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Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou (born 15 April 1953) is a Greek politician.

Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou was born in Zakynthos. She is a member of the European Parliament and in particular the EPP-ED Group (Group of the European People's Party and European Democrats - New Democracy. In January 2007 she was elected first vice-President of the European Parliament.

Contents

General Information

Rodi Kratsa was born and brought up at the island of Zakyhthos, in Greece. Her family had a great appreciation of education and culture. Zakynthos, a crossroad of influences and cultures, broadened her conception of a multicultural identity and an open-minded society.

She studied Sociology (specialising in political sociology) at the University of Geneva (Switzerland), where she formed her visions for her later action. Switzerland, as an international center gave Rodi the opportunity to make herself familiar to the global problems and challenges. Her postgraduate studies followed at the Institute of European Studies of the same University where she completed her research. She has also participated in the activities of the European Culture Centre in Geneva, of which she is today a member of Βoard. With this rich in European and cultural experiences background, she developed actions and initiatives since her early university years, concerning the promotions of “Europe of citizens” and the European vision of justice, equity and dialogue of cultures in Europe and between Europe and the rest of the world.

In 1999 she was elected member of the European Parliament and was re-elected in 2004. She was elected First Vice President of the European Parliament in January 2007.

Her main responsibilities as a Member of the European Parliament for the period 2004-2009:

- Member of the Committee on Transport and Tourism

- Member of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality

- Member of the Committee on Budgetary Control and

- Member of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA).


As Vice-President, Rodi Kratsa is responsible for promoting the Euro- Mediterranean Cooperation including through the Euro-Mediterranean Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA). She also holds the Presidency of the High level Group on Gender Equality, a group responsible for the planning and application of gender equality and diversity issues and policies within the administration of the European Parliament as well as within the parliamentary work and activities of all bodies. As a Vice President Mrs. Kratsa has competence in the areas of the Conciliation Procedure among the different EU organs, in cases where the Council of the European Union does not approve the amendments of the European Parliament under the co-decision procedure, a key procedure for the democratic structure of the EU. She also participates in the Audit Panel, a group responsible for the follow up of the Internal Audit System of the Parliament in order to control and verify the internal audits carried out regarding the financial management of the General Directions of the Parliament and in order to adopt the recommendations and actions needed.

Her specific actions in the areas of competence are as follows.

Maritime affairs

Since 1999, Mrs Kratsa has been involved with the affairs of the Committee on Tourism and Transport of the European Parliament, among other obligations. Especially since her re-election as an MEP, Mrs. Kratsa has been dynamically involved in the area of shipping and maritime affairs. Coming from a country like Greece, which possesses 16% of the global merchant fleet and undoubtedly constitutes the first shipping power of the international shipping industry, Mrs Kratsa has demonstrated great initiative and increasing sensibility on maritime issues at European and international level and especially in the areas of competition and security for persons, goods and the environment. At the same time, she attaches great importance to keeping the political entities as well as the public opinion informed with regard to the challenges and the potential of shipping. For these reasons, this year, a European Maritime Day (20th of May) was established at her own initiative, following her proposal and procedure which dates two years back. Through this initiative, Mrs. Kratsa seeks to raise awareness of the importance of the European maritime sector for the European economy as well as to highlight its fundamental role for sustainable development, social and territorial cohesion, competitiveness and more jobs.

Moreover, Mrs. Kratsa has been particularly active in pushing for a more effective and well implemented legislative framework on several areas of shipping, like on:

- maritime pollution, the imposition of legal sanctions and compensation, and on

- maritime safety (chairing the EP delegation on the discussion for an EU Third Maritime Safety Package) and the fight against terrorism on the high seas.

She has also constituted a key player in building cooperative relationships among the different partners, as the International Maritime Organization (I.M.O.), the EU and its Member States. Moreover, she has been specifically involved, pushing for better results, in areas as:

- the competition in maritime transport (revision of rules for international maritime trade). As rapporteur, Mrs Kratsa underlined that it is essential to respect free competition law, to strengthen the competitiveness of the European economy and maritime fleet and also to take into account existing legal and operational arrangements in other regions (USA, Australia, Japan) since any rearrangement of Europe's carrying capacity may have a destabilising effect worldwide.

- the power of member states to ratify the 2006 Unified Convention of Maritime Employment of the International Labour Organisation. Mrs Kratsa stressed that such ratification helps safeguard the basic employment and social rights of seafarers, together with a decent standard of living, maritime career advancement and further as well as high quality training. Mrs Kratsa notes the significance of the adoption of this International Convention in order to ensure a similar and satisfactory level of working conditions for seafarers, especially for countries not having a sufficient legislation on the matter.

- the education and training of the seafarers. In the framework of a report regarding the European Union directive on the minimum level of training of seafarers, Mrs Kratsa as rapporteur underlined that such as directive has to contribute to improving their level of knowledge and skills and to providing greater guarantees of safety and prevention of accidents and maritime pollution. Mrs Kratsa highlighted as well, the acute need for seafaring skills and maritime expertise not only at sea but also ashore, as the seafaring profession is a key gateway to a multiplicity of interesting appointments in shore-based maritime activities. Moreover, such a modern career should permit a more balanced professional and familial life in order to be more attractive to women.

- the market access to the port services and the community ports policy. Mrs Kratsa expressed many times the view that ports are important not only for maritime, river and modal transport in Europe and international trade, but also as economic axes, sources of employment and a force for population integration. In view of its objectives of boosting the competitiveness of maritime transport and providing high-quality modern services, European ports policy should promote the following four principles: safety - swift service - low cost - respect for the environment.

- the system of the carriage of goods,

- the maritime transport of short distance,

- the European Action Plan for road safety,

- the system eCall and the common system for granting driving licences,

- the information of passengers of air transports for the identity of the real carrier and the notification on security from member states (black list of companies of carriage by air) as well as

- the new perspectives and challenges for a vibrant and sustainable European tourism in European and international level.

In addition, within the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership, Mrs. Kratsa has particularly highlighted the role of the modern maritime transports as well as the key role of the ports in this respect. Mrs. Kratsa, in her capacity of Vice-President of the EP responsible for the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, will be in charge of the organization in November 2008 of the activities regarding common challenges and initiatives on the maritime industry as well as transports and ports development in the Mediterranean, as a key region for the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation and international trade.

Women's Rights

Rodi Kratsa has been active in promoting the situation of women in Europe but also in championing their rights in the rest of the world.

At European level

Since 1999, Rodi Kratsa has been a full Member of the European Parliament's Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality. Both within and beyond the mandate of the said Committee, the sphere of her political activity ranges from the situation of women in rural areas to the gender mainstreaming in EU external relations and peace building. Her parliamentary and extra-parliamentary work is characterized by a constant commitment in women's empowerment, pluralism and cross-field political action on national and international level, without nevertheless losing its focus on certain key issues.

Conscious of the special challenges that immigrant women face today and of the particular attention that policymakers should thus pay to their needs, Rodi Kratsa presented in 2005 the Women's Rights Committee opinion on the links between legal and illegal migration. In 2006, she was the rapporteur on "women's immigration: the role and place of immigrant women in the European Union" (2006/2010(INI)). She has maintained her vested interest in this key topic, especially as regards the management of increased migratory fluxes in the EU and the role and activities of the European External Borders Agency (FRONTEX).

Rodi Kratsa has given particular attention to the situation of women in rural areas of the EU. She has been Parliament's rapporteur in the light of the mid-term review of the common agricultural policy in 2003 and has followed up on the issue with her interventions in Parliament's 2007 synonymous report. In this regard, throughout her work in the Women's Committee, she has repeatedly highlighted the need for a revised legislative framework providing for independent social and pension rights for women assisting with farming.

Based upon her own experience as a founding and active member of national and international NGOs, Rodi Kratsa has constantly promoted the empowerment of the civil society and women's organisations in particular. She was Parliament's rapporteur on co-decision procedures pertaining to EU grants to equality organisations twice: in 2003 "on the establishment of a Community action programme to promote organisations active at European level in the field of equality between men and women", and in 2005 on "Gender equality: Community framework strategy and grants to organisations active at European level".

Rodi Kratsa has been also carefully monitoring the situation of women in candidate countries for EU accession, in view of the 2004 enlargement. In 2001, she presented the Women's Rights Committee's opinions on the membership applications and progress in negotiations of Malta and Lithuania. In 2001, she also reported on the state of preparedness for EU membership of Romania. Furthermore, in 2001 and 2003, she reported on the stabilisation and association process in South East Europe.

At international level

Having a strong commitment to the promotion of peace, democracy and prosperity in the Mediterranean, Rodi Kratsa has taken several initiatives for the promotion of women's rights and gender equality in the Euro-Mediterranean region. These initiatives have launched the promotion of policies and actions in favour of women's issues in the European Union as well as in the Mediterranean partner countries.

Her main accomplishments in the field of promotion of gender equality include the proposal of the instauration of the First Regional MEDA Programme to promote the participation of women in economic life. In 2006, she reported on the evaluation, implementation and control of the MEDA programme and of the financial support to Palestine.

In the framework of the Euro-Med Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA), she proposed the creation of an Ad-Hoc Committee for Women’s Rights in the Euro-Med Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA); her proposal was adopted by the plenary of the EMPA and until the summer of 2008 she served as the Vice-President of the Ad-Hoc Committee. During the meeting of the Ad-Hoc Committee in Tunis, on the 16th March 2007, Rodi Kratsa proposed the idea to establish a "Euro-Med Woman of the Year Prize" to be awarded annually to the southern and northern organization or individual deemed to have made, in cooperation with other Mediterranean actors, the greatest contribution to promoting the rights of women. This proposal was adopted in the final resolution of the Ad-Hoc Committee.

In 20 November 2001, she organised a Public Hearing for the Committee on Equal Opportunities and Gender Equality of the European Parliament on the "Euro-Mediterranean partnership and the promotion of women's rights and equal opportunities". In 2002, she was rapporteur of Parliament's own initiative report on “the policy of the EU towards the Mediterranean countries for the promotion of women’s rights and equal opportunities in these countries”.

Endorsing the global interactive networking of women as a necessary tool for their empowerment, she hosted the European launch of the International Knowledge Network of Women in Politics (iKNOW Politics) on 3 March 2008 in the European Parliament in Brussels. Already lauded as the premier network for women political leaders and activists, iKNOW Politics is a virtual forum providing officials, candidates, political parties, practitioners, activists, and other stakeholders with access to resources and expertise, and a space to share and apply information on women in politics. Five institutions, IIDEA, IPU, NDI, UNDP and UNIFEM, have combined their resources and expertise to create iKNOW Politics. The European launch of iKNOW Politics was also addressed by Secretary Madeleine K. Albright.

Rodi Kratsa participates in the Women Leaders' Working Group. Created in 2006 by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in order to ensure that women's empowerment issues are international priorities, the Working Group is composed of female Heads of State, Ministers and high-ranking officials from across the globe. Rodi Kratsa participated in the last meeting of the Working Group in June 2008 in Athens on "Women in the Middle East", in which Secretary Rice was represented by Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, her Senior Advisor for women's empowerment.

Rodi Kratsa enjoys a privileged partnership with key women policymakers and stakeholders in the Arab world and Israel. Since 2000, Rodi Kratsa has maintained a permanent contact and cooperation with many political and civil actors in Mediterranean countries and especially with the Women's Committee of Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union in order to promote a platform of dialogue and common action. She has proposed the organisation of a joint meeting in the European Parliament exploring possible avenues of cooperation and common action. On March 2003, on the occasion of the International Day for Women, Mrs Kratsa organised a Conference in Athens on the "Euro-Arab dialogue of women" with the participation of the President of the Women's Committee of the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union, Mrs Bahia Hariri and several other personalities of Mediterranean and Arab States.

Mrs Kratsa participates since 1999 in the activities of different parliamentary delegations and official visits in Mediterranean countries (Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon). She has undertaken personal initiatives in order to establish contact with local stakeholders and NGOs and to promote gender equality and cooperation between North - South (Women's International Peace Movement - Egypt, Centre de la Femme Arabe pour la Recherche et la Formation - Tunisia, CREDIF: Centre d´ information, d'études, de documentation et d'information - Tunisia, International Women's Forum - Morocco, ISESCO : Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural organisation - Morocco).

She has participated in different conferences on the promotion of gender equality in the Mediterranean and has published several relevant articles both in European and Middle-East press.

Rodi Kratsa is currently drafting the Women's Rights Committee's opinion on gender mainstreaming in the external relations of the European Union, and in peace building and nation building.

International and Euro-Mediterranean cooperation

Mrs. Kratsa has always been particularly active in strengthening cooperation, peace and prosperity in the Mediterranean region and beyond, in the international scene.

She has held important meetings towards this end with key actors in European and non-European countries, engaging in discussions on global problems and strengthening international cooperation at the international level.

In relation to the Mediterranean region, Mrs. Kratsa has demonstrated rare commitment. She has participated in the “Beirut Spring” (March 2005) and was present as an observer at the first free and fair elections of Lebanon in 2005, following the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister and friend Rafik Hariri. She has always maintained special diplomatic contacts with the Lebanese Government as well as with the Hariri Foundation, even after the end of the war. She also constitutes a vigorous participant in the works of the “Club de Monaco”, a group of politicians, diplomats and researchers established by Prince Rainier of Monaco and currently enjoying the support of Prince Albert II of Monaco, which aims at the exchange of ideas on the problems of the Mediterranean region. Moreover, Mrs. Kratsa cooperates with the German-based political foundation Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, an institution whose objective is to offer political education and handle educational and scientific research projects around the world, in order to embark on a joint promotion of democratic practices in the social and political life of the Mediterranean people.

Her devotion to the promotion of peace, prosperity, justice and equality in the Mediterranean region and her intense and tireless efforts for the promotion of the Euro-Mediterranean relations as well as the promotion of equal opportunities policies in the European Parliament and in the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly, were officially marked and recognised with her designation through the vote of members of a network of 37 countries as the winner of the 2007 Anna Lindh Euro-Med Award for the Dialogue between Cultures under the theme “Women and men hand in hand for gender equality”. The award was offered to her by the Egyptian former United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali.

She now constitutes the official EPP-ED responsible Member for the relations between Lebanon and the EPP-ED Group and participates in the budgetary committee that controls the provision of financial support to the Occupied Palestinian Territories. She has held several visits to different countries of the region, like Morocco, Tunisia, Syria, Israel and Palestine, Egypt and Jordan.

Especially after her election as 1st Vice-President of the European Parliament in 2007, and assigned the responsibility for the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation, including the Euro-Mediterranean Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA), she has been even more dynamically involved with the Euro-Mediterranean affairs. In the framework of EMPA, Mrs. Kratsa is coordinator of a pioneer contact group that is being set-up in relation to the progress on the Euro-Mediterranean University (EMUNI).

Civil Society

Rodi Kratsa has, even much earlier before her political career, been enthusiastically present in the civil society.

She has demonstrated leadership in this area with the founding of or her personal involvement in such organisations. Founding member (1987) and current President (Brussels 2000) of the International Association for the Promotion of Women of Europe, a non-profit non-governmental women’s organisation that established and runs the “Women of Europe Award”, she has been remarkably devoted in the advancement of the association’s work as well as in the development of a network for the women involved in this initiative. She constitutes a founding member (1988) and current President (1990) of Club de Rhodes, a non-profit association-think tank, formed in the island of Rhodes, Greece under the auspices of the Award, which consists from European women members of the International Association who have a common goal to encourage women’s engagement in European integration.

Mrs. Kratsa has also demonstrated support for civil society within the framework of her membership of the European Parliament. She has been a founding member of various intergroups - groups of the European Parliament created at the initiative of MEPs from different political groups on a specific issue chosen with the cooperation of civil society as a topic worth deeper analysis and with the aim to promote the relevant policies. In particular, Mrs. Kratsa has founded integroups on issues specific to islands, on tourism, social economy, conservation and sustainable development, disability, family and childhood as well as on the francophonie and cultural diversity.

Furthermore, Rodi Kratsa has acted in support of vulnerable groups in Greece, like immigrants, people suffering from AIDS, rural population and in particular farmers, as well as homeless people and children. Mrs. Kratsa has often hosted such groups in the European Parliament for an official and more effective exchange of views. Rodi Kratsa has shared and followed-up on the issues and challenges brought forward by those people, achieving, in many cases, the mainstreaming of their concerns in European and national policies. Mrs. Kratsa also participates as a member of the Board and the Scientific Committee of the Child and Family Foundation (Athens), a Greek non-profit organisation which safeguards the rights of the child in the family and in social life and protects the solidity of the family, as a unique and significant safe place for the development of healthy and happy children. Mrs. Kratsa is also member of “ELPIDA” (“Hope”), also a Greek non-profit association which hosts children with cancer and provides medical and financial support for their therapy.

Mrs. Kratsa’s activities in civil society do not stop here..they are much ampler and include her participation as founder and President of the European Centre of Communication and Information (Athens 1989) - a non-profit organisation for the purposes of supporting European integration and cultivating a European conscience to the people, especially the young ones, giving the EU the legitimacy needed in the heart of the European citizens. She is also a current Board member of the European Centre of Culture established in Geneva, a city with which she holds a very close relationship as it is so dear to her from her years spent there as a university student. This Centre envisages the promotion of the common cultural links among European populations.

Other actions of Rodi Kratsa in civil society matters date years back since her first steps in the political arena. Mrs. Kratsa has been a founding member of even more initiatives; the Greek part of the Union of European Federalists as well as of the Greek Committee for the European Movement (elected Vice-president), speaking the voice of young people and acting in support of “more and stronger Europe” for the increasing prosperity of its citizens. Moreover, back in 1999 she was widely voted for as a member of the Municipality Council of Athens.

Mrs. Kratsa has always had strong presence in a number of international and regional meetings of UNESCO concerning education, the promotion of women and the cultural heritage as well as in numerous other European and international organisations.

Ηοnorary Distinctions

The hard, systematic and determined initiative of Rodi Kratsa in a wide array of sectors makes her an endless source of inspiration. This has been recognized officially in several occasions when she has been awarded for her contribution to the advancement of different areas of work.

In October 2008, she was voted for as WISTA Personality of the Year for her contribution and actions on maritime affairs in conjunction with her overall activities, by all member countries of WISTA International. WISTA International is an international organization for women in management positions involved in maritime transportation business and related trade worldwide, made up by an ever growing number of National WISTA Associations worldwide. Her candidancy was chosen and widely supported by the National WISTA Association of Greece, WISTA Hellas.

In 2007, she was given the Anna Lindh Euro-Med Award for the Dialogue between Cultures (2007) under the theme “Women and men hand in hand for gender equality” by theAnna Lindh Foundation, the main organ for Euro-Mediterranean dialogue consisting of a network of 37 organizations from 37 countries (27 EU Member States and 10 Mediterranean States). She was voted for by all members for her devotion on peace, prosperity, justice and equality at the Mediterranean region as well as her efforts for the promotion of the Euro-Mediterranean relations focusing on the promotion of equal opportunities policies in the European Parliament and in the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly.

In September 2008, Mrs. Kratsa was also proclaimed “A Knight of the Holy Sepulchre” by His Beatitude the Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, being given the Award “Bearer of the Cross”, for her contribution to the work of the Patriarchy, her action for the furtherance of its cooperation with the European institutions in Brussels and in Israel and Palestine as well as her involvement in the protection of the rights of Christians in the Middle East.

Earlier awards include:

- the “Chevalier de l’ Ordre national de la Légion d’ Honneur” ("Knight of the Legion of Honour") by the President of the French Republic in 2004 for her vision, participation and contribution to the European integration

- the XENIA International Exhibition of the Tourism Industry Award (2006, Greece) for her contribution to Greek and European tourism, given by the then Minister and the Secretary General of the Greek Ministry for Tourism Growth

- an award by the then Mayor of Athens, Dimitrios Avramopoulos, for her initiatives for European integration and her European action as a whole back in 1997

Rodi Kratsa has also received several other special honorary distinctions by many international, European and national organizations and authorities, including by several women’s organisations like Soroptimist International.

Family

She is married to former Member of Greek Parliament and former Minister of Transports and Communications of New Democracy party, Apostolos Kratsas. They have two children, George, who studied law in London and Paris, specialises in European competition law (LSE University) and is now a PhD candidate, and Constance, who studied law and economics in London and specialises in trade and company law (UCL University). Both of them attended the 2008 summer courses on International Business and Marketing (Constance) and Economics (George) at Harvard University, Cambridge Massachusetts (USA).

References

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