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December 20, 2010

Since the beginning of his work at the European Parliament, MEP Leonidas Donskis has signed and this way expressed his support to about twenty written declarations initiated by his colleagues MEPs. Declarations address a wide range of problems: violations of human rights worldwide, environmental protection and culture, transport and energy, healthcare and SME business.
Each MEP or a group of MEPs can propose written declarations addressing various EU related subjects. If a written declaration during three months gets support from more than a half of MEPs, it becomes an official position of the EP and subsequently urges other EU institutions or EU Member States to take relevant actions. MEPs submit a wide variety of written declarations, which often become a solid starting point for debates on certain problems or changes of EU legislation.

Of course, not all written declarations are supported by more than a half of MEPs as it depends on the importance of a problem addressed across the EU as well as on efforts to inform MEPs about a submitted declaration. These efforts often include actions by various organisations, hearings and exhibitions on the subject. Even if a declaration is not supported by an adequate number of MEPs, it often raises awareness among MEPs and the public, and draws the attention of media to the problems addressed.

It is common practice at the European Parliament that NGOs, lobby groups and individuals also push for the support to a certain declaration. Various organisations and individuals from Lithuania ahave also started urging Lithuanian MEPs to support specific declarations. „Caritas“ of Archbishopric of Vilnius, for example, drew the attention of Lithuanian MEPs to a written declaration on EU homelessness strategy, which was initiated by MEPS fromthe United Kingdom, Poland, Denmark, France, and Portugal and urged the European Commission to address the problem of homeless people. "In Lithuania, the problems of homeless people have started to be recognized only now. There no exact numbers of homeless people, however, it is estimated that there are up to 15000 homeless individuals", - says the organisation in its letter. Due to the important subject and wide support from NGOs, the declaration was supported by almost four hundred MEPs and became an official EP position, which was subsequently sent to other EU institutions and members of the national parliaments.

Individuals, too, contribute to the solution of problems that worry them. Members of the European Parliament represent their voters, therefore, they have an obligation to consider problems important to them. Reactions from citizens are useful to MEPs as they provide with information on certain issues, which sometimes remain aside due to busy work schedule. A diver from Lithuania, for example, invited MEP Leonidas Donskis to sign a written declaration on support for strengthening the European Union ban on shark finning by transferring his own letter as well as an appeal from a programme "Aware", which unifies divers from Lithuania seeking to protect water biodiversity. In addition, he provided with statistics on support of MEPs from other countries to this declaration. So far, more than 420 MEPs have supported this declaration, which is more than required for it to be adopted.

These trends from Lithuanian organisations and voters to get involved in the information of MEPs on written declarations are quite recent, therefore, it is worth to note, that written declarations remain in force for three months which are dedicated for assuring the required number of signatures. MEPs can sign written declarations during plenary sessions which take place once a month. Therefore, it is important that MEPs are informed about a written declaration as soon as it is ready to sign as they need time to direct attention to it, to explore a problem addressed by it and take a decision regarding the signature.

During the second year in the office, MEP Leondas Donskis has supported written declarations among others on the need to address violations of human rights in Tibet, Iran, Kosovo, the USA and the EU, on cancer research, on increased EU support on grassroots sports, on animal and nature protection, on reducing bureaucracy for small and medium business, associations, and insurance funds, on measures for the protection and conservation of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Leonidas Donskis has also supported a declaration on the development of rail transport infrastructure in the Baltic region, which was initiated by Lithuanian, Latvian and Polish colleagues.

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What do you think?
Which of the activities of L. Donskis at the European Parliament proved to be the most effective?
Activities in the field of human rights
Work with Eastern Partnership and post-Soviet countries
Support of the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the EU

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