BRUSSELS, June 26 (KUNA) -- As heads of the European Union's (EU) member states gather Thursday and Friday in Belgium , the human rights organization Amnesty International has urged them to ensure that human rights form the bedrock of EU internal and external policies and practices.
Today afternoon the EU leaders will gather in the north western Belgian city of Ypres for a commemoration to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War and then they will have an exchange of views on the strategic agenda for the Union in the coming years.
"EU member states must not lose sight of their human rights commitments. The Strategic Guidelines offer the Union a chance to show a bolder vision of what can and must be achieved in terms of protecting human rights at home and abroad," said Iverna McGowan, Director of Programmes at Amnesty International's EU Office, in a statement.
Amnesty called on the EU member states to make sure that human rights protection form the basis of work outlined in the Guidelines. But any undertakings made this week will only carry weight if they are followed up with concrete actions, it said.
The statement noted that in the EU today, "violence against women remains pervasive and groups including migrants, Roma people ...are targets of widespread discrimination and violence. Border control measures expose migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers to serious harm and often result in loss of life."
"This has to change," it stressed.
On Friday, in Brussels, the EU leaders will discuss the agenda for growth, competitiveness, jobs, and energy issues. They will also decide on the candidate for the President of the European Commission.
EU leaders will on Friday sign Association Agreements with Georgia and Moldova and the signature process with Ukraine on the Association Agreement will be completed.