Answer – Health crisis in the pig sector – E-000089/2016

A summary of the epidemiological situation for animal diseases in the EU for 2016(1) and for previous years(2) can be found on the Commission’s webpage. The classical swine fever situation has shown a positive trend during the past few years with only one Member State having notified this disease in wild boar in 2015. However, African swine fever (ASF) affects currently five Member States and it is difficult to speculate on the future evolution of both of these diseases given their trans-boundary nature and the challenges related to the required coordination of efforts with neighbouring non-EU countries. It is reminded that in the case of ASF the virus strain is the same as that found in Russia.

While there is an ongoing dispute settlement case under the World Trade Organisation against Russia for the ban imposed on EU live pigs and pig products allegedly for ASF reasons, the Commission continues its efforts to achieve a mutually acceptable solution, in the respect of the international trade norms. Ongoing bilateral negotiations between the EU and Russia may allow the immediate resumption of trade of affected commodities not covered by the Russian embargo (e.g.: offal, fat and lard). To this end, the Commission submitted proposals and on many occasions expressed its readiness to discuss any concerns the other side might have. Unfortunately, Russia has so far not agreed to enter into discussion for an EU-level solution to the ban.

Read more

Borsa İstanbul’s Opening Bell Once Again Rings For Gender Equality

A bell-ringing ceremony was held at Borsa İstanbul on March 8, 2016 like last year, in cooperation with the UN Global Compact, United Nations Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Unit (UN Women), World Federation of Exchanges (WFE)Women in ETFs, Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative (SSE)and International Finance Corporation (IFC) in order to raise awareness on gender equality and empower women in economy. 

In her speech, keynote speaker First Lady Emine Erdoğan said, “Principles such as having more women on company boards and fair treatment of men and women in the business world herald a better world”. 

Dr. Sema Ramazanoğlu, Minister of Family and Social Policies, said, “Societies that fail to offer equal opportunities to women cannot develop”. 

34 Stock Exchanges from all over the world, including Borsa İstanbul, are hosting bell-ringing ceremonies in the first week of March.

In order to raise awareness on gender equality and empower women economically, UN Global Compact, United Nations Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Unit (UN Women), World Federation of Exchanges (WFE), Women in ETFs, Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative (SSE) and International Finance Corporation (IFC) have jointly organized events under the title “Ring the Bell for Equality” at stock exchanges of the world during the first week of March since 2015, prior to the International Women’s Day. 

This year, 34 stock exchanges from all over the world, from Australia to Toronto, Ghana to Italy, and London to Hong Kong will take part in the event. “Ring the Bell for Equality” at stock exchanges event series started at Nairobi Stock Exchange on March 3 this year. Event series will conclude with a ceremony at Bursa Malaysia on March 11.

A founding member of the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative (SSE), Borsa İstanbul hosted the bell-ringing ceremony in 2016 for the second time to attract the attention of the Turkish business world and the other actors of the capital markets. The bell-ringing ceremony was realized at Borsa İstanbul Foyer at 09:15 on Tuesday, March 8, 2016. First Lady Emine Erdoğan, Minister of Family and Social Policies Dr. Sema Ramazanoğlu, Borsa İstanbul Chairman Dr. Talat Ulussever, Borsa İstanbul CEO Tuncay Dinç, UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Representative to Turkey Ingibjörg Gísladóttir, IFC Turkey Country Manager Aisha Williams, Koç Holding CEO Levent Çakıroğlu, SUTEKS Group Chairwoman and WEPs Business Advocate Nur Ger, and Turkish Businesswomen Association High Advisory Council Chairwoman Demet Sabancı Çetindoğan rang the bell for gender equality.

First Lady Emine Erdoğan, Minister of Family and Social Policies Dr. Sema Ramazanoğlu, Borsa İstanbul Chairman Dr. Talat Ulussever, UN Women Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Representative to Turkey Ingibjörg Gísladóttir, IFC Turkey Country Manager Aisha Williams, Koç Holding CEO Levent Çakıroğlu, SUTEKS Group Chairwoman and WEPs Business Advocate Nur Ger delivered speeches after ringing the bell.

First Lady Emine Erdoğan said, “Leaders of our business world that develop corporate policies supporting gender equality in the society is a hope for the future. I would like to wholeheartedly congratulate the leaders that have signed the seven Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs). Principles such as having more women on company boards and fair treatment of men and women in the business world herald a better world”. Erdoğan underlined that; however insufficient, Turkey has registered numerous significant developments for empowering women in the last decade, and added that the amendments in article 10 of the Constitution in 2004 and 2010 envisage gender equality. First Lady went on to say:

“The fact that a “Commission for Equal Opportunities for both Genders” was established in 2009 indicates the political determination in this area. Such arrangements lead to significant results in terms of empowerment of women. With regard to the place of women in the business world, women employment has increased from 20.8 percent to 27.5 percent in the last decade. Women’s participation in the work force increased by 8.3 points. By the same token, thanks to positive discrimination for women entrepreneurs, the guarantee ratio of 75 percent is planned as 85 percent for women. All of these will add to the effectiveness of women in the business world. Governments’ legal arrangements in the recent years are important. To cite an example, the unpaid leave period due to birth is now taken into consideration for seniority in civil service. Part-time employment due to birth and extension of paternity leave are also arrangements that will make women’s lives easier. Certainly, all of these practices will lead to results only through the support and high level of awareness of men. At this point, I would like to invite the leaders of the business world for more proactive approaches. As a nation, we are struggling to protect and extend the gains we have secured, and eliminate problems. This struggle, as you are aware, gives its fruits. We have made significant progress in favor of women. I do hope that we will improve further hand-in-hand with our nation”.

Minister of Family and Social Policies Dr. Sema Ramazanoğlu congratulated women for the International Women’s Day and said in her speech, “I hope for a world where all kinds of discrimination have ended, and where women have a place in the economic and cultural life”. Ramazanoğlu emphasized that societies that fail to offer equal opportunities to women cannot develop, and went on to say, “Today, we have rung Borsa İstanbul’s opening-bell for women, for equality, for fairness. I do hope that the whole world hears this voice. Let this voice be that of women entrepreneurs, women employees. Let it be the voice against violence against women. Let it be the voice of the mothers of our martyrs. I hope that through Borsa İstanbul, particularly the United Nations hears us. I would like to present my heartfelt gratitude to the esteemed First Lady and esteemed President for their efforts on women’s rights. I am also grateful to Borsa İstanbul managers for being the voice of women”.

Borsa İstanbul Chairman Dr. Talat Ulussever said, “I would like to express that increase of woman presence in the business world is one of the issues that Borsa İstanbul attaches great importance to. Borsa İstanbul opens its doors for various partnerships in the business world, and is now hosting this event, which is vital for the “bond”, even “partnership” between women and men. We have recently witnessed many significant developments for this partnership in our country. To give an example, women participation in the work force increased from 23 percent in 2004 to around 30 percent today”.

UN Women Designated Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia and Turkey representative Ingibjörg Gísladóttir thanked Borsa İstanbul for hosting the event and said, “Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is a precondition for Sustainable Development as reflected in a new Sustainable Development Goal on gender equality and provisions for women’s empowerment in other goals. The aim is to end discrimination and violence against women and girls and ensure equal participation and opportunities in all spheres of life. This year on International Women’s Day, the UN is calling for a “Planet 50-50: Step It Up for Gender Equality”. This is an urgent call to all humanity to say no to discrimination and violence against women, say no to gender inequality.”

Director IFC Turkey Aisha Williams said “As IFC, we are aware of the gain of gender equality in the managin boards for the companies. Companies which have gender equality show better corporate governance and they became more competative, innovative and sturdy. Therefore, gender equality in the commissions is not just taking more women to the commissions for us. We are decisive to support diversity as a strong way for  company dynamics and performance developments. Therefore, we discuss about diversity with our business partners and search for increasing diversity opportunities in managing boards together.

Koç Holding CEO Levent Çakıroğlu said“The precondition for Turkey’s progress in ensuring gender equality is the empowerment of women in economic life. In addition, when we look at the examples in the world we see that women’s greater participation in economic life has the power to boost economic growth and development. Gender equality is one of the top issues in the global business world’s agenda in recent years. This is not a coincidence, of course. Research shows that business world gains as much from equality as the broader society. Thus, many companies manage this issue by integrating it into their business strategies. Gender equality is not considered a separate project but it is seen as an opportunity to strengthen fundamental abilities such as profitability, creativity, and innovation. As you know, we started in this path with the leadership of our late Chairman Mustafa Koç.  He was one of the great supporters of this cause and one of the 10 opinion leaders of UN Women in the world. The work we started last year will continue in the coming years, in the same pace. We will carry the flag we inherited from Mustafa Koç to the furthest point possible because as he expressed “A society without women is a society without future”.

SUTEKS Group Chairman of Board and WEPs Business Spokesperson Nur Ger said in her speech “Today, reputation of the countries is determined by the rate in development indexes, not by their economical size.  Rate of a country’s in Gender Equality in Society Index is one of the most important indicators. UN’s initiative “Women Empowerment Principles”, invites the leaders in the business world to support women to get strong in all areas in the community. Because, only then economical development of the countries, increase in the competitiveness strength and wealth of community will be possible. We say that, “Give support for the gender equality in society. By this, your institution will become stronger and our country will be in clover.”

New Women Empowerment Principles (WEPs) signatories were announced

Following the ceremony, which is a part of the call of UN Women to all UN member countries to speed up the gender equality endeavors, improve the women’s and young girls’ rights, and ensure gender equality by 2030, the new signatories of Women’s Empowerment Principles  (WEPs) was announced and a photo session was held. Borsa İstanbul was among the new WEPs signatories this year and Borsa İstanbul CEO Tuncay Dinç together with the other new signatories received greetings at the stage.

“Women Empowerment Principles” (WEPs) is one of the most important global initiatives of the private sector aimed at empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors and throughout all levels of economic activity. The Women’s Empowerment Principles Platform is the product of the collaboration that was established in 2010 between UN Women and the UN Global Compact and offers the private sector the key points that they must take into consideration for gender equality in work places, markets and in the society in general. WEPs requests business world leaders to clearly guarantee 7 principles toward creating company policies that will enhance social gender equality. WEPs has more than 1,000 signatories worldwide by the end of 2015; and Turkey ranks as the 4th country in terms of the number of WEPs signatories, standing at 83.

The new signatories include AccorHotels Türkiye, AYGAZ, Borsa İstanbul, ÇİMSA, Danone Hayat İçecek ve Gıda, Danone Nutricia Anne Bebek Beslenmesi, Deloitte Türkiye, Doğuş Grubu, Emek Hukuk Bürosu, Enve Enerji,  Erkunt Sanayi A.Ş., Erkunt Traktör, EY Türkiye, Garanti Emeklilik, İnci Holding, ING Bank Turkey, Ka Mühendislik, Kapital Medya Hizmetleri A.Ş., LAV, Multinet Teknoloji A.Ş., Multinet Up, MV Holding, NURUS, Orka Holding, Penti, Rönesans Holding, SAP Türkiye, Şekerbank, Spring Nearest Manufacturing Company, Unilever Türkiye, Ünlü & Co, Vodafone Türkiye and Zenium Technology.

About the Partner Organizations

Borsa İstanbul
Borsa İstanbul, with historical roots going back to 1873, is a diversified regional exchange in Turkey, providing trading, settlement, custody and registry services for equities, derivatives, fixed income & repo, precious metals and Islamic finance products. The Company operates under a single umbrella, following its de-mutualization and incorporation in 2012, and successful completion of horizontal integration (via the acquisition of the derivatives and gold exchanges), and of vertical integration (via control of the two domestic post trade firms), shortly thereafter.

Through its markets, Borsa İstanbul offers corporates, investors and traders in the region a broad range of financial products suited to their needs, and efficient access to extensive capital markets. Post trade and depository services are offered by its majority-owned subsidiaries of Takasbank (Istanbul Settlement and Custody Bank) and MKK (The Central Securities Depository). Borsa İstanbul calculates 360 indices that measure and benchmark equity and fixed income markets in Turkey. Borsa İstanbul is a shareholder in the Sarajevo, Baku, Kyrgyz, and Montenegro Stock Exchanges, as well as LCH. Clearnet.

For further information, please visit Borsa İstanbul at and follow us on Facebook (, and Twitter (

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. Working with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, we use our capital, expertise, and influence, to create opportunity where it’s needed most. In FY15, our long-term investments in developing countries rose to nearly $18 billion, helping the private sector play an essential role in the global effort to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information,

The Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative
The SSE is a peer-to-peer learning platform for exploring how exchanges—in collaboration with investors, regulators, and companies—can encourage sustainable investment and enhance corporate transparency, and ultimately performance, on ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) issues. The SSE is convened by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the UN Global Compact, the UN Environment Program Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), and the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).  For more information on specific exchanges’ sustainability efforts, how to become a Partner Stock Exchange, and further opportunities to advance the integration of sustainability within capital markets, visit

UN Global Compact
The United Nations Global Compact is a call to companies everywhere to align their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and to take action in support of UN goals and issues embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals. The UN Global Compact is a leadership platform for the development, implementation and disclosure of responsible corporate practices. Launched in 2000, it is the largest corporate sustainability initiative in the world, with more than 8,000 companies and 4,000 non-business signatories based in over 170 countries, and more than 85 Local Networks.

UN Women
UN Women is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. UN Women supports UN Member States as they set global standards for achieving gender equality, and works with governments and civil society to design laws, policies, programmes and services needed to implement these standards. UN Women also coordinates and promotes the UN system’s work in advancing gender equality. To learn more at:

Women in ETFs
Women in ETFs is (WE) is the first women’s group for the ETF industry. Founded in January 2014, WE is a non-profit organization that brings together 1,700 members, including women and men, in chapters in major financial centers across the United States, Canada, EMEA and Asia Pacific to further the careers of women by leveraging our collective skill and ambition.  WE achieves this by organizing events at our chapters globally that support our goals of education, networking, and philanthropy,  The three major objectives for WE are:  1.  CONNECT:  Create opportunities for professional advancement of women by expanding connections among women and men in the ETF industry.  2.  SUPPORT:  Offer guidance for the current and next generation of women in ETFs.  3.  INSPIRE:  Provide forums for education and idea sharing across the industry and beyond.  Visit us at to learn more, join, or sponsor.  Follow us on Twitter @WomeninETFs and LinkedIn.

World Federation of Exchanges
The World Federation of Exchanges is the trade association for the operators of regulated financial exchanges. With 64 members from around the globe, the WFE develops and promotes standards in markets, supporting reform in the regulation of OTC derivatives markets, international cooperation and coordination among regulators. WFE exchanges are home to nearly 45,000 listed companies. WFE statistics database covers more than 350 indicators and 70 years of data from exchanges worldwide.

About the Women’s Empowerment Principles

Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs)
In 2010, the UN Global Compact, in partnership with UN Women, launched the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs)– seven Principles for business on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace, and community. The WEPs provide a ready-made platform to mobilize corporate action and catalyze partnerships and collaborations that have the potential to deepen and accelerate impact. The WEPs are endorsed by over 1140 companies from over 50 countries.


Read more

Motion for a resolution on Freedom of Expression in Kazakhstan – B8-2016-0349

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Kazakhstan, in particular that of 17 April 2013 on the human rights situation in Kazakhstan,

–  having regard to the EU-Kazakhstan Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement of 21 December 2015,

–  having regard to the Joint Press Release of the EU and Central Asia Ministerial Meeting of 21 December 2015 in Astana,

–  having regard to the remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini following the signature of the EU-Kazakhstan Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement on 21 December 2015,

–  having regard to the statement of OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic on 25 September and 26 December 2015,

–  having regard to Freedom House’s classification of Kazakhstan’s press as being “not free” in the “Freedom of the Press 2015” report and of its internet as “not free” in the “Freedom of the Net 2015” report,

–  having regard to art. 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

–  having regard to art. 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

–  having regard to Rules 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  Whereas the relations between the EU and Kazakhstan are of increasing importance, with Kazakhstan being the first Central Asian partner having signed an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the EU; whereas this agreement will strengthen political dialogue between the EU and Kazakhstan and serve to promote mutual trade and investments but also, and this importantly puts a strong emphasis on democracy and the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms and sustainable development as well as civil society cooperation;

B.  Whereas Kazakhstan is a major energy supplier for the EU and the EU is willing to cooperate on further expanding energy ties; whereas the EU has consistently worked with Kazakhstan on its WTO accession path which has now resulted in the completion of negotiations to join the World Trade Organisation; whereas it is important that Kazakhstan start to follow the rule of law and uphold its international obligations, guarantee legal certainty for EU companies operating in Kazakhstan and protection of their investments;

C.  Whereas in 2014, the courts closed the independent newspapers Pravdivaya Gazeta and Assandi Times which constitutes unacceptable breach of freedom of speech and media pluralism;

D.  Whereas the general situation with regard to freedom of expression has deteriorated considerably in recent years with several Kazakh journalists and bloggers currently held under custody or sentenced to prison for pursuing activities that are in accordance with international law and human rights;

E.  Whereas Gyuzyal Baydalinova and Yulia Kozlova are under criminal investigation after publishing articles that connect a private bank controlled by the government to corruption in the building industry and both risk sentences up to 7 years;

F.  Whereas Vladimir Kozlov, journalist, democratic opposition activist and human rights defender, remains imprisoned and serves 4th year of his 7,5 years sentence;

G.  Whereas the Almalinskii District Court in Almaty sentenced Ermek Narymbaev to three years in prison and Serikzhan Mambetalin to two years and is now under house arrest for posts on social media platforms which the authorities deemed were describing the Kazakh nation in “provocative terms”, containing signs of “inciting national discord” and “offending the honor and dignity” of the Kazakh nation;

H.  Whereas the head of the journalists’ union Seitkazy Matayev has been accused of theft and tax evasion, is under house arrest and risks up to 12 years in prison;

I.  Whereas the freedom of movement of the blogger Bolatbek Blialov has been severely restricted, for showing media interviews on YouTube commenting on a range of topics, including critique of Russia’s policy towards Ukraine;

J.  Whereas the upcoming parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan on March 20, 2016 should be preceded by guaranteeing freedom of expression in the society to be considered free and fair;

K.  Whereas other parties should be allowed to be registered for the upcoming parliamentary elections;

1.  Deeply regrets that overall respect for democratic standards, human rights and fundamental freedoms has further deteriorated in Kazakhstan in recent years;

2.  Condemns the continued persecution of independent and/or critical media, journalists and bloggers; condemns the Kazakh authorities’ use of politically motivated accusations and the common practice of extracting false confessions by threatening with long prison sentences;

3.  Calls on the Kazakh authorities to act in accordance with its international obligations, respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of expression, media and assembly; reminds Kazakhstan of its OSCE commitments to democratic reforms and of its ambition as a candidate for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council in 2017-2018;

4.  Reiterates that EU enhanced relations with Kazakhstan are linked to concrete human rights improvements; reminds the Kazakh authorities that the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the EU puts a strong emphasis on democracy, rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms in Kazakhstan;

5.  Calls for a repeal and annulment of the politically motivated previous and current court cases, sentences, judgments and sanctions against Gyuzyal Baydalinova, Yulia Kozlova, Serikzhan Mambetalin, Ermek Narymbaev, Seitkazy Matayev, Bolatbek Blialov and Vladimir Kozlov;

6.  Strongly urges the Kazakh authorities to abolish the use of politically motivated charges against critical journalists, independent media and private citizens expressing their points of view; urges the Kazakh authorities to initiate urgent legal reforms to remove disproportionate administrative and criminal penalties for media activities, as recommended by the EU, the UN and the OSCE; calls on Kazakhstan to amend its legislation and remove from the Criminal Code the disproportionate articles used to restrict freedom of expression and to charge journalists;

7.  Strongly urges Kazakhstan to amend its restrictive public assembly law that is regularly used to fine and jail peaceful protesters;

8.  Calls on Kazakhstan to amend its court system so that the proceedings in the cases of journalists would be public and that there would be no harassment during the proceedings;

9.  Calls on the VP/High Representative and the EEAS to closely monitor developments in Kazakhstan, to prioritise the promotion of democratic transformation and respect for human rights in Kazakhstan and to offer assistance where needed and asked for;

10.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Member States’ governments and parliaments, the President, government and parliament of Kazakhstan, and the Parliamentary Assemblies of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Read more

Shock after closure of iconic Derry store Austins

The store has been operating for close to two centuries and is reportedly the oldest independent department store in the world.

The firm said the business was no longer sustainable in the long term.

Fifty-three staff members are losing their jobs as a result.

The shutters came down on the iconic department store on Tuesday.

Politicians and business leaders have expressed their dismay at the news.

SDLP leader and Foyle MLA Colum Eastwood has said the closure of the city centre landmark is a “shock to local retailing and our thoughts are with the staff affected by its closure”.

“I will immediately be in contact with all relevant authorities to ensure that the staff are given all the support and help they require as they come to terms with today’s news and as they begin the search for new employment.  

“A struggling economy will always result in a struggling retail sector. Derry’s economy is struggling and the sudden closure of Austins is testament to that.

“The failure of the Executive to properly invest in the West has left a legacy of economic stagnation and the impact of this has been felt by the staff of Austins today. The closure of Austins is sorely symbolic of this failure.”

Foyle DUP MLA Gary Middleton has expressed his sadness, saying Austins “is part of the fabric of Londondery”.

“The business has served generations of people in the city and beyond, and I am saddened to hear that it has gone into liquidation,” he said.

“Some of the staff who work in the shop contacted me this morning when they arrived for work and found the shutters were down. It is obviously very distressing for them, particularly given they had no prior warning.

“If there is anything which can be done either to assist the company, and particularly to help those staff who face a very uncertain time, then I will do all in my power to help.”

The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) has said Austins shutting up shop is big loss to the independent retail sector.

Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “This is truly dreadful news that one of oldest independent retailers in Europe is to close its doors after 186 years of trading in Londonderry”

“This is not just a loss for Derry, but to Northern Ireland’s independent retail sector as whole.

“Austins was very much a destination retailer for Derry City Centre and its closure will result in less footfall for the surrounding local traders. Our thoughts are with the fifty three Austins staff and their families at this difficult time.”

He added: “It underlines the need for the NI Executive and Derry & Strabane Council to have a coordinated strategy to address the many challenges facing Londonderry City Centre and its traders”

Read more
1 1,386 1,387 1,388 1,389 1,390 1,393