Europe day to day
Brussels -- In January of this year, the European Commission urged Member States to act according to a decision which allowed the prescription-free sale of ellaOne, a contraceptive with an abortifacient effect. As a result, many countries – among them Germany – took this as a sign that any legislation which foresaw its sale only on the basis of a medical prescription should be abolished. However, the Commission this week clarified that there is in fact no obligation for Member States to do so.
What happened? In November 2014 the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended that ellaOne be made available across Europe as an emergency contraceptive without a prescription. EllaOne is one of two ‘morning-after-pills’ available on the European market and, since its launch in 2009, was available only with a prescription in EU Member States.
The European Parliament Platform for Secularism in Politics (EPPSP), whose Advisory Board is composed of 11 different European NGOs, met November 12 to set their objectives for the next five years of the new legislature. Calling for a “right to secularism” was defined as one of its top priorities.
In the ideal world of the European secularists – who think liberal democracy is constantly under threat from religion – citizens who are believers would not have the same right as other citizens to engage in public debate. They would be silenced. And European secularists would consider this democratic progress, freedom or even political neutrality. They argue that the political sphere must be ‘protected’ from all religious belief which continues to influence democracy and human rights. Furthermore, according to those who militantly advocate for a Europe free from religion, it is the Vatican – with its “huge powers” – that is the main threat to modern secular society.
Yesterday, the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) together with the Italian Presidency of the Council of the EU (all 28 Member States) held a conference in Brussels on ‘Tackling sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination’. With more than 200 representatives from the 28 Member States and civil society organizations in attendance, the high-level conference pushed for stronger sanctions -- including criminal ones -- against such ‘discrimination’.
But the conference’s agenda was based entirely on the unreliable results of the FRA’s survey on discrimination against LGBTI, which has been much criticized during the past year -- in the media and by many Brussels-based NGOs – because of serious flaws in its design. At yesterday’s conference, despite more questions from the floor about its methodology -- and the rather ideological and unscientific nature of the entire survey – these remained unanswered.