Senator Alice Mary Higgins says rights and solidarity must be ‘priority’ in next chapter for EU. Encourages people across Ireland to participate in crucial public consultation on Europe’s future

En Cofoe Document Social Media Square Picture 4
En Cofoe Document Social Media Square Picture 4

Senator Alice-Mary Higgins is one of four Oireachtas delegates to the Conference on the Future of Europe, an eight month process that hopes to shape the next chapter for the EU. Speaking at a plenary of the Conference last Saturday, Senator Higgins highlighted:

“On so many issues like equality and environment, people have been speaking up for some time and institutions have been slow to hear. Too often civil society voices have felt drowned out by corporate lobbies.”


“This process is a chance to listen to not just the ideas but to the priorities of EU citizens. Human rights are a priority. The EU’s role in driving forward workers’ rights, women’s rights, disability rights, LGBT rights is something people are proud of and that they care about. When rights and solidarity were pushed aside under austerity that damaged trust. We need to strengthen that now through a new Social Progress Protocol and through an EU that steps up and shows leadership on international rights, including the rights of refugees and the new right to a healthy environment. The EU should not be blocking a TRIPS waiver on global vaccine access.”

Senator Higgins also noted  
“Action on climate, biodiversity and the SDGs by 2030 is a clear priority for citizens across Europe, and that will require major public investment, just transition and strong policies. Those policies, including an exit from fossil fuels, must not be undermined or chilled by corporate courts, that can choose to ignore the European Court of Justice. This is also a rule of law issue.” 

Concluding her speech in Strasbourg, Senator Higgins emphasised that 
“The conversation on Europe’s future must be deeper and much more diverse. These are the decisions we make about how we live together and how we protect our future life on this shared planet and in this shared EU and in each of our communities.”

Senator Higgins is calling on people across Ireland to help shape these important decisions.
“The Conference on the Future of Europe could be an important turning point for the EU. The political, economic, social and environmental issues agreed at EU level affect all of our lives. It is vital that people and organisations concerned about these issues make their voice heard via the Conference’s digital platform or by organising an event of their own, online or in person.”

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Senator Higgins joins EPF colleagues in calling on governments to ensure sexual and reproductive rights are protected during the COVID-19 emergency

Even during a crisis, women have sexual and reproductive healthcare needs which cannot wait. Governments should be supporting access to essential SRHR services - unfortunately some are actively using this as a chance to block it. As a member of the the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights, I have been pressing governments across Europe to actively support access to SHRR in their own countries and across the wider world. Last week we produced a report on ’Sexual and Reproductive Rights during the COVID-19 pandemic’ which described how many women and girls are being left without essential medical services such as contraception and abortion care, HIV and STI testing, reproductive cancer screenings, and adequate pre and post-natal healthcare.

An IPPF survey showed 5.633 community-based care clinics closing across 64 countries, with African countries being the most heavily impacted. EU member states should be giving humanitarian and health support and including SHRR. In terms of particularly time-sensitive healthcare such as abortion, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Portugal have made provisions for remote support of medical abortions, while Poland and Romania seem to be using this crisis to undermine women’s access to rights and reproductive healthcare.

Amid this crisis we have also seen a huge increase in sexual and gender-based violence, an issue that all governments must address head on.