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The EU systemDue to its parliamentary structure, the European system presents several specificities and possibilities for action in relation to the United Nations system.

The EU system

Due to its parliamentary structure, the European system presents several specificities and possibilities for action in relation to the United Nations system.

To be a Docip volunteer involves putting one’s skills at the service of indigenous delegates during their participation in the UN arena.

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The European institutional system

There is no thematic distribution between the different services and institutions in the EU; each one operates on all the subjects according to its means of action. Thereby, in order to use all the means of action and multiply the prospects for a successful conclusion to your claims, any action in the EU should aim at all the services and institutions.

The European Parliament

The European Parliament has, with the Council of the EU, legislative authority in the EU.

The European deputies (MEP) have many tools at their disposal to act on the processes, whether it is in a formal or informal way. The deputies do not have the power of legislative initiative. They are not eligible to propose new regulations but, in practice, the Parliament has such production that your requests will find most of the time their place in an existing process.

Once informed by you, a European deputy can decide to propose a modification of the reports, directives or regulations under preparation so that these take into account your problems. The European deputies can also adopt urgent resolutions to report violations quickly.

This parliamentary structure offers you a lot of flexibility in your actions; the support of only one deputy can be enough to achieve your requests.

The members of the European Parliament divide the work by splitting into specific commissions on the basis of thematic areas (foreign affairs, human rights, civil liberties, development, budgetary control, etc.). It will be important to identify the relevant parliamentary committees in order to reach the deputies most concerned by your requests. Here is a summary of the information. Keep in mind that the Committees have an EU-internal and/or EU-external competence.

Futhermore, the European Parliament has delegations of MEPs in charge of the work on a country or on a specific international body. When you try to identify the relevant actors for your problem in the EU, the members of the appropriate delegation on your country will be privileged interlocutors.

Aside from the purely legislative framework, it should be stressed that the European deputies have a powerful moral authority and are likely to draw the attention of the media. They have a great freedom of action, are subject to no State or social order. Moreover, the deputies go on mission in the whole world. Do not hesitate to invite them in your community so that they can see the situation on the ground for themselves.

When a little political pressure is necessary to take action, the deputies are particularly decisive actors.

The European Commission

The European commission is the executive body of the EU. It proposes legislation and implements the Union's policies and budget.

The Commission is made up of 28 commissioners (one for each country of the EU) including the president and the vice-presidents. They lead the Commission, each one in a specific field.

The Commission is divided into several "directorate-generals" (DGs) and services. The officials of DGs have a mandate that is either thematic or geographical. Here is a summary of the information. Such information is useful when you identify the relevant actors for your issue. Keep in mind that the DGs have an internal and/or external competence to the European Union (EU).

The Council of the EU

The Council of the EU play an important role since it negotiates and adopts the legislative acts with the European Parliament and coordinates the policies of the Member States, in particular in the economic, cultural, and social domains. It is in charge of EU foreign policy that it defines and implements and it also concludes the international agreements.

The Council of the EU is directly related to the Member States and gathers the ministers and members of the European governments. Its political support is decisive.

In the process, give priority to one or two Member States likely to be interested in your requests. These States will be able to encourage the Council of the EU to take into account your requests or, more modestly, not to block your actions.

The European External Action Service (EEAS) works in close cooperation with the Council of the EU. Therefore, to inform it of your problems will allow to take them up to the level of the Council.

The European External Action Service (EEAS)

The European External Action Service (EEAS) is an institutional body of the EU, placed under the authority of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The EEAS could be seen as a European diplomatic service.

In Brussels, the EEAS is composed by civil servants in charge of specific themes and geographical specialists. Besides, one of its units is exclusively devoted to the protection of human rights.

Abroad, the EEAS operates 139 delegations and offices worldwide, through which pass the European actions on the ground. The mission of a Head of Delegation is comparable to that of an ambassador.

If you come from a third country of the EU, these delegations will be key interlocutors for you. First of all, the delegations are responsible for relaying to the EU local information and in particular human rights violations. You should know that the delegation members are required to receive the members of the civil society to hear their requests. Therefore, before approaching other bodies of the Union, do not hesitate to come into contact with the delegation located in your country.

Moreover, the Head of Delegation plays a political role as he negotiates directly in the name of the EU with the countries or international institutions of his area.

From a more practical point of view, the EU delegations, located in all the geographical areas of the world, will undoubtedly be for you easier to access than the institutions in Brussels.

Other European or national actors

According to your situation, some other bodies may turn out to be very helpful. For example, the intervention of the European Court of Auditors on the budgetary problems; the action of the European Economic and Social Committee regarding conflicts between employers and employees; the seisine of the Court of Justice of the EU to punish violations and deficiencies of the European institutions and Member States; the requests of the European Ombudsman can be decisive to the successful outcome of your action.

EU main documents relating to Indigenous Peoples

Below you will find the main European documents relating to indigenous peoples. For more information please see our online resource centre. The European Union, which represents 28 states, all of which are members of the United Nations, also recognises and applies the various legal instruments of the UN that protect the rights of indigenous peoples.

Communication from the Commission to the European Council of 27 May 1998 on a partnership for integration: a strategy for integrating the environment into EU policies

The European Commission Working Document of May 1998 entitled "On support for indigenous peoples in the development co-operation of the Community and Member States" establishes the objectives of supporting indigenous peoples' rights and integrating the concern for indigenous peoples as a cross-cutting aspect of human empowerment and development co-operation. It advocates for the full and free participation of indigenous peoples in all stages of the project cycle and that their participation in development activities should include elements such as prior consultation, their consent to envisaged activities, their control over activities affecting their lives and land, and the identification of their own priorities for development.

November 1998 Council Resolution of Development Ministers of the European Union Member States

The ensuing November 1998 Council Resolution of Development Ministers of the European Union Member States welcomes the Working Document and recognises that "cooperation with and support for the establishment of partnerships with indigenous peoples is essential for the objectives of poverty elimination, sustainable development of natural resources, the observance of human rights and the development of democracy". The Council further acknowledges that development cooperation should contribute to enhancing the right and capacity of indigenous peoples to their "self-development". It equally confirms that this includes the right to object to projects, in particular in indigenous peoples' traditional areas, and compensation where projects negatively affect the livelihoods of indigenous peoples.

Report from the Commission to the Council of 11 June 2002. Review of progress of working with indigenous peoples

In November 2002, Council Conclusions recalls the 1998 Council Resolution commitments and invites the European Union to pursue their implementation. The Commission and Member States were invited to ensure coherence, including through the establishment of dedicated focal points in the Commission and Member States, and coordination in multilateral fora as well as training of personnel on issues related to human rights and democratisation in general and to indigenous peoples in particular. Indigenous peoples' issues were to be mainstreamed into the EU policies, practise and work methods. This includes a call for the inclusion of an analysis of their political, social, economic and cultural situation within partner countries in Country Strategy Papers and for impact assessments of EU development co-operation policies, programmes and projects on indigenous peoples. It further states that indigenous peoples should be able to fully and effectively participate at all stages of the project cycle (programming, identification, planning, implementation and evaluation) and provides for capacity building of organisations representing indigenous peoples. The Council also decides to integrate the concerns of indigenous peoples in political dialogues with partner countries as an integral part of the human rights clauses of the different co-operation and association agreements.

UE annual report on human rights and democracy in the world in 2015 (20 june 2016)

The report underlines that 2015 has been a year of challenges for the EU and the international community at large, it describes the EU human rights approach to conflicts and crisis, how the EU addresses the main human rights and democracy challenges worldwide, and how human rights are mainstreamed throughout EU external policies, including trade and development cooperation.

An integrated European Union policy for the Arctic (2016)

In 2014, the Council and European Parliament asked the Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to develop an integrated policy on Arctic matters, and to develop a more coherent framework for EU action and funding programmes. This policy is focus on climate change, environmental protection, sustainable development, international cooperation and the participation of local stakeholders.

The Council conclusions on indigenous peoples, 15 May 2017 and the Joint Staff Working Document - Implementing EU External Policy on Indigenous Peoples (2016).

The Council adopted conclusions on indigenous peoples, recalling that the EU is founded on values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities.

The Council underlines the importance of addressing discrimination and inequalities based on indigenous origin or identity as well as the importance of actions taken to address the threats to and violence against indigenous peoples. The Council also highlights the crucial importance of further enhancing opportunities for dialogue with indigenous peoples at all levels of EU cooperation.

These conclusions follow the joint staff working document "Implementing EU external policy on indigenous peoples" published by the High Representative and the European Commission in October 2016. The joint staff working document identified ways for the EU to strengthen its support to indigenous peoples through existing external policies and financing.

The new European Consensus on Development (2017)

The 2017 European Consensus for Development offers a common development vision for the EU and constitutes a comprehensive common framework for European development cooperation. It integrates the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. In doing so, it aligns European development action with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the international community in September 2015.