Parliament will vigorously fight the plan, agreed by Home Affairs Ministers on 7 June, to change the legal basis for evaluating the working of the Schengen visa-free area, pledged President Martin Schulz in his opening speech. The switch was sharply criticized by almost all political groups, as an attack on EU citizens' basic rights. He also warned Serbia's President Tomislav Nikolic against rewriting history and drew attention to the trials of Sakharov prizewinners Leyla Zana and Asmaa Mahfouz.
Danish Justice Minister Morten Bødskov will be in Parliament on Tuesday morning at 09.00 to explain the change in legal basis to Treaty Article 70, which assigns Parliament a less prominent decision-making role on the evaluation of how Schengen rules are implemented. His statement will be followed by contributions from political group speakers, added the President.
Mr Schulz reported that in a telephone conversation with Mr Bødskov and acting EU Council President Prime Minister Thorning-Schmidt, he had stressed that the European Parliament would vigorously fight any attempt to strike at the basic freedoms of EU citizens.
Mr Schulz had written to Serbia's newly-elected President Tomislav Nikolic to congratulate him on his election, but also to point that attempting to rewrite history is unacceptable. The Srebrenica genocide and crimes against humanity were internationally recognised, not least by the International Court of Justice, he noted, adding the hope that Serbia would "not leave the path of regional reconciliation, as it would otherwise leave the path towards Europe".
Trials of Sakharov prizewinners
Mr Schulz demanded a fair trial and appeal process for Sakharov prizewinner Leyla Zana, who had been sentenced on the basis of Turkey's anti-terrorism legislation. Turkey has signed the European Convention on Human Rights, and the European Parliament expects it to abide by it, he said, adding that during his official visit to Turkey, two weeks before, Ms Zana had thanked him for Parliament's unwavering support.
Another Sakharov Prize winner, Egypt's Asmaa Mahfouz, would begin her appeal against a prison sentence on 17 June, noted Mr Schulz, adding that he had written to foreign policy High Representative Catherine Ashton to ask her to ensure that the EU ambassador to Cairo would be present.
Mr Schulz announced that:
Mr Eric Andrieu had replaced Mr Kader Arif (S&D, FR)
Mr Jean-Jacob Bicep had replaced Mr Pascal Canfin (Greens/EFA, FR)
Mr Karim Zeribi had replaced Mr Vincent Peillon (S&D, FR)
Mr Eric Banki had replaced Janos Ader, and
the credentials of Ms Minodora Clivetti had been verified by the Legal Affairs Committee.