Rules on prosecuting and punishing fraud against the EU budget were voted by the Budgetary Control and Civil Liberties committees on Thursday. In amendments to a draft anti-fraud law, MEPs clearly defined the offences for which member states would have to introduce criminal penalties, such as fraud, passive and active corruption, money laundering or dishonest bidding for public procurement contracts. Fraud costs the EU budget an estimated €600 million each year.
The ultimate owners of companies and trusts would have to be listed in public registers in EU countries, under updated draft anti-money laundering rules approved by the Economic Affairs and the Justice and Home Affairs committees on Thursday. Casinos are included in the scope of the draft rules, but decisions to exclude other gambling services posing a low risk are left to member states.
Binding rules on search and rescue to clarify how border guards serving in Frontex sea operations should deal with migrants and where they should disembark them were approved by the Civil Liberties Committee on Thursday. The rules were informally agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators on 11 February.
The European Parliament should withhold its consent to an EU-US trade deal unless it fully respects EU citizens’ data privacy, says an inquiry report on US National Security Agency (NSA) and EU member states surveillance of EU citizens, approved by the Civil Liberties Committee on Wednesday. It adds that data protection rules should be excluded from the trade talks and negotiated separately with the US.
The priorities of the Greek Council Presidency are being outlined to the various parliamentary committees by Greek ministers, from 16 to 23 January. This text will be updated daily.
Clandestine migrants from the EU to Turkey or Turkey to the EU would have to be returned under an EU-Turkey “readmission” agreement signed by both parties on 16 December and endorsed by the Civil Liberties Committee on Wednesday. The return rule would apply not only to EU nationals and Turks, but also to third-country nationals who enter either the EU or Turkey via the other.
"We need the US authorities to put an end to current discrimination whereby European citizens have lower levels of privacy rights than US citizens, including less privacy protection in US courts. It would have been good to have a more reassuring message on these issues with more clarity on future reform", said lead MEP in Parliament's inquiry into mass surveillance of EU citizens, Claude Moraes, on Friday, reacting to US President Obama's proposed changes to NSA surveillance practices.
The European Commission must "immediately" set up a new system to monitor all EU member states' compliance with EU values and accession criteria, says a resolution voted by the Civil Liberties Committee on Monday. MEPs also criticise violations of the basic rights of migrants, national minorities, persons with disabilities and women.
EU countries will have to allocate more funds to improve their asylum systems and the integration of migrants under an EP-Council deal backed by the civil liberties committee on Thursday. The new Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund for the next 7 years sets minimum amounts to be spent on asylum and integration policies. MEPs also endorsed the new Internal Security Fund, aimed at improving police cooperation, border surveillance and crime prevention.
"Most governments are beneficiaries of Snowden's choice" to reveal the mass surveillance programmes by the NSA, said Glenn Greenwald, the former journalist of the Guardian who published the information on the NSA mass surveillance, at a Civil Liberties Committee inquiry hearing on Wednesday. The consequences of the revelations, the economic espionage by the US and the protection of whistle-blowers and journalists were among the topics raised by MEPs.