Migration, child marriage and food waste were the topics that topped the agenda of the last plenary session of the EU Parliament before a short Easter break. MEPs discussed new proposals for the EU’s migrant return policy and further elaborated on the issues of human rights, women’s rights, and child marriages.
According to the United Nations Population Fund, child marriage is a human rights violation. Despite laws against it, the practice remains widespread and it is estimated that in developing countries one in every three girls is married before reaching age 18. One in nine is married under age 15. The underlying reasons for child marriage are often persistent poverty and gender inequality. Child marriage has negative consequences on girls’ health and lives, limiting their future prospects. Girls forced into child marriage often get pregnant while still teenagers, increasing the risk of childbirth and pregnancy. To deal with these issues, The Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality held a joint hearing with the aim to formulate an EU agenda.
EU policymakers also discussed the return of migrants without the right to stay in the European Union as the European Commission came up with reforms to the existing rules on their return. They included more financial support for EU countries, improving the exchange of information and the conclusion of negotiation on readmission deals with African and Middle Eastern countries. The Commission is also working hard on partnerships with countries of origin and transition but insists on ensuring that all persons who do not need international protection are returned humanely and swiftly.
Regarding food waste, the EU is looking into ways to cut food waste by 2030. It is estimated that about 88 million tons of food are wasted annually in the EU, with associated costs estimated at 143 billion euros. MEPs reminded that wasting food is both unethical and uneconomic but it also constitutes a depletion of the environment of limited natural resources.