Democracy cannot live without free, diverse and independent media. Journalists and media actors across the globe hold states, government officials, corporations and society at large accountable for their actions. But far too many among them face threats and attacks simply for carrying out their work, while the perpetrators of these attacks often act with total impunity.
The European Parliament has endorsed today the initiative to tackle marine litter at its source, targeting the 10 plastic products that most often end up in the oceans, as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear.
On the European and World Day against the Death Penalty, the Council of Europe and the European Union (EU) reiterate their strong opposition to capital punishment in all circumstances and for all cases. The death penalty is an affront to human dignity. It constitutes cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and is contrary to the right to life. The death penalty has no established deterrent effect and it makes judicial errors irreversible.
Sixty-eight years ago today, French foreign minister Robert Schuman proposed a joint authority to oversee French and German production of coal and steel, launching an ambitious and remarkable project which has shaped the course of European history and redefined Europe's place in the world.
This project – of peace, of partnership, of shared values and solidarity – is far from over.
In 1948, after the devastating Second World War, which brought painful divisions in Europe and occupation for many European countries, the international community committed to define, promote and protect human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights that we celebrate on 10 December has enshrined these shared principles and has had a profound influence on the development of the world. But still, almost seventy years on, we are far from the full respect of these commitments all over the world, and we recognize that all states must do more in this respect.
On the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, the European Union commends the work of journalists in uncovering abuses of power, shining a light on corruption and human right violations, and questioning received opinion, often putting themselves at risk of intimidation, violence and death. An independent and free media is the basis of a participatory and pluralist democracy, and a tool to make governments accountable for their actions.