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Snippet Contents:

They are caught in this no man's land between Syria, Israel and Palestine. If we are committed to defending human rights, there is a need to consider the people who are living there. As I said, we met them recently and heard about the situation on the ground for people there. Some 95% of the Syrian population was transferred or displaced, so there is only 5% left. A city and over 300 villages and farms were destroyed. There are 23,000 Israeli settlers living on these lands, with the remaining Syrian population in only five villages. There are plans for the construction of further settlements which are illegal under international law. It is a fertile land with plenty of water, but the Syrian population in those villages pay up to four times more than the Israeli population. Oil exploration is going on and we can wonder to whose benefit that is going to be. There are also the remnants of the landmines from both the 1967 war and previous wars. I hope this is an area that could be addressed when there is an opportunity to do so at EU level.
One other question is that of multilateral EU funding and the lack of transparency regarding some aspects of that funding. While we know the total amount, there is a need for more transparency. We know about the European Development Fund and know that the EU development co-operation budget saw an increase, as did the European trust fund, but there are questions about exactly where all of this is going.
We had statements on Catalonia yesterday and certain aspects are very clear. One is in respect of the Catalonian culture, language and identity. The second is an acknowledgement of the very heavy-handed tactics of the central government in dealing with the peaceful protests and with the democratic right to vote. The third is the need for dialogue to resolve these issues. The question is whether the EU will provide that space and support for the dialogue and engagement.
Last Sunday in Geneva, at the World Parliamentary Forum, there was a call for parliamentarians to support the establishment of the UN binding treaty on transnational corporations and human rights. This is very opportune, given our own report on human rights and business is coming some time in November. The EU has stated its commitment to human rights. The UN Human Rights Council established a working group to develop this legally binding international instrument on transnational corporations and business enterprises in respect of human rights. The aim is to put an end to the global loopholes so all companies are accountable when it comes to human rights and worker rights. This will be major because we see so much unregulated globalisation, especially in the poorest parts of the world. Again, will the EU be a supporting voice in this regard, given labour rights are being violated? The EU could be an active voice in this UN process. That would be part of the tax justice agenda in order to stop the illicit flows and profit shifting which deprive the poorest countries in the developing world of the revenue which they need for food and health. It is almost as if the EU is at times soothing its conscience in its development aid budget and not looking at the other aspects of tax loopholes and workers' rights. I see the next meeting of the leaders is about culture and education, which would be an interesting issue to debate here in the next while.