Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Two hundred words are not enough to express what needs to be said with regard to the range of issues raised by this report, given the tragic and complex situation in the occupied Palestinian territories. We would like, however, to highlight the following points:
- The report overlooks the Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people and the Israeli authorities’ flagrant disrespect for international law;
- It omits to mention the EU’s part in the collapse of the Palestinian Authority (PA), by joining in the boycott against the PA since 2006, a boycott that remains in place despite all the efforts made and agreements reached to set up a Palestinian government of national unity. The creation of the ‘temporary international mechanism’ was not aimed at preventing the collapse of the Palestinian institutions, and nor did it prevent the worsening humanitarian crisis facing millions of Palestinians in the occupied territories.
- The report overlooks the worsening situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, which is the result of 40 years of Israeli occupation – with the connivance of the USA and its allies – and its policy of not recognising the legitimate and inalienable right of the Palestinian people to an independent, sovereign and viable state, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions.
Bairbre de Brún, Mary Lou McDonald and Eva-Britt Svensson (GUE/NGL), in writing. The EU and the international community bear a heavy responsibility for the current tragedy in Palestine. Their failure to bring pressure to bear on Israel, the impunity afforded to the Israeli authorities, their refusal to talk to democratically elected politicians and their sanctions against the Palestinian authorities have led us to where we are today.
The EU must now grasp the political responsibility by opening political dialogue with all relevant actors in Palestine – in Gaza as well as the West Bank. We have to help the Palestinian people by engaging in dialogue with the specific intention of aiding the establishment of a unified, viable and secure Palestinian state.
For these reasons we have decided to abstain on this report.
Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE-DE), in writing. – (SK) The Barcelona Process is gaining in importance and bringing about concrete results. Similarly, progress has recently been seen in all sections of the Euromed Parliamentary Assembly. The most heart-warming progress was achieved in the political section, of which I am also a member.
The MEDA Program we voted on is the key financial instrument of the EU for implementation of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. It supports the measures accompanying reforms in economic and social structures by our Mediterranean partners, aimed at the closing the existing gap between the two sides of Mediterranean region.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not only the root cause of many military and civilian deaths. It also brings pitiable and insurmountable economic and social conditions to a section of Palestinian society. In recent days we have witnessed bloody conflicts between the Hamas and Fatah movements, and the escalation of violence in the Palestinian territory. It is necessary that the financial aid provided under the MEDA program, flowing to eight other countries in addition to Palestine, should not end up in the hands of extremists from the Hamas movement, but instead in the hands of the intended recipients, which is to say poverty-stricken Palestinian citizens.
Athanasios Pafilis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) The EU financial support to Palestine proposed by the report moves in the same direction as the interventionist imperialist policy in the area as a whole. It is the reverse side of the policy of freezing aid to the Palestinian people, as a punishment for choosing a government, through democratic and indisputable elections, which is not to the EU's liking. Now there is a proposal to again start giving financial support to the 'new government' appointed by President Abbas, which it approves of. The EU imperialists, in close cooperation with the USA and Israel within the framework of the 'New Middle East' plan, are exploiting the tragedy of the Palestinian people which they themselves created. They are using financial support as a means of blatant coercion, as a tool for intervening in the intra-Palestinian conflict. In reality, they are pouring oil on the flames in order to exacerbate the clashes and divisions, so as to bend the heroic resistance of the Palestinian people and of the other peoples in the area and impose their criminal plans.
The Greek Communist Party opposes the use of this support as a mechanism for imperialist intervention and that is why it voted against the report. It expresses its solidarity and demands humanitarian and financial support for the Palestinian people without terms and conditions, an end to the barbaric Israeli occupation and the creation of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) Whenever the theme of this report is addressed, the question that inevitably arises is what purpose EU funding for Palestine should serve and what strategy should be followed in this regard. There are three fundamental axes that should always form part of this response: first, that of supporting the people, second, that of encouraging the creation of a future Palestinian state underpinned by democracy and respect for human rights, and third, that of promoting peace.
The outcome of investigations carried out by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) have, thus far, not exactly been reassuring. ‘On the basis of the information available to date in the press release of OLAF, no conclusive evidence of support of armed attacks or unlawful activities financed by EC contributions to the Palestinian Authority was found’. However, ‘there are consistent indications to support the hypothesis that it cannot be excluded that some of the assets of the Palestinian Authority may have been used by some individuals for other than the intended purpose’.
EU support must be visible, recognisable and effective in achieving these objectives. Unfortunately, there can be no certainty that this has been the result of our initiatives. It should also be acknowledged that, overall, the EU’s role in the region has been positive.
Andreas Mölzer (ITS), in writing. (DE) The notion of exchanging a certain amount of the information contained in criminal records is undoubtedly to be welcomed, particularly in sensitive areas such as paedophilia, but also in order to increase arrests of drug dealers and other criminal organisations.
However, it must not result in respectable citizens being treated as criminals because of a minor entry in their criminal record. As the case of files on hooligans has shown, being found close to events is often enough to justify inclusion in the blacklist. It is also dangerous to apply the process wholesale to sensitive areas, if only for reasons of data protection, which is why I was unable to vote in favour.
Javier Moreno Sánchez (PSE), in writing. (ES) Like the other members of the Spanish Socialist Delegation, I am voting in favour because I do not wish to see the legislative procedure referred to in the report paralysed and because I agree with the result of Parliament’s consultation, as approved by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.
Nevertheless, by means of this explanation of vote, I wish to protest at the choice of rapporteur, Mr Díaz de Mera, who was accused and fined for contempt of court after refusing to cooperate with the Court trying the alleged perpetrators of the horrific attacks of 11 March, the worst terrorist attack to have taken place on European territory, which was carried out while he was Director of Police. In view of the seriousness of his conduct, the judge has begun the preliminary procedures with a view to presenting a plea to the European Parliament.
I therefore believe that Mr Díaz de Mera’s contempt of the Court and the content of his statements are not compatible with his being the European Parliament's rapporteur for reports on judicial and police cooperation between the Member States and the fight against terrorism, and they affect Parliament's credibility.
Athanasios Pafilis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) The directive on exchanges of information extracted from criminal records is yet another blow to the rights of inviolable privacy and personal data protection of the citizens of the EU. It makes provision for the transmission of information extracted from the criminal records not only in the Member States of the EU, but also in third countries, and not only in connection with criminal proceedings instituted against an individual, but also for any purpose. The directive contains no substantive measure for protecting personal data relating to this information. It blatantly infringes the national legislation of the Member States and of our country and the international conventions which provide that information for the purpose of convicting a person is absolutely confidential and may only be transmitted within the framework of criminal proceedings against him or in the very specific and limited circumstances provided for under the law. In this way, the harmonisation – in a reactionary direction – of the penal systems of the Member States is being further promoted, with the ultimate aim of formulating a single penal code in the EU which will restrict and abolish fundamental individual rights and political freedoms, while at the same time removing from the Member States one of the crucial elements on which their national sovereignty is based.
Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This resolution tabled by the Committee on Development is both relevant and highly significant. A few examples demonstrate what has been known for a long time, which is that the policies and measures actually pursued often run counter to the stated objectives.
The committee makes the point that, with regard to the Regional Strategy Document 2007-2013 and the Multiannual Indicative Programme for Asia proposed by the Commission, and taking account of the regulation establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation, which stipulates that 'the primary and overarching objective of cooperation under this Regulation shall be the eradication of poverty in partner countries and regions in the context of sustainable development', it is impossible to understand, for example, how ‘in the area of support to the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the stated objectives of the 'institutional support and region-to-region dialogue' programme include 'support[ing] possible ASEAN-EU Free Trade Agreement negotiations and implementation' and 'rais[ing] the visibility of EC contribution to ASEAN'. It is hard to see how this proposal can be squared with the primary objective of eradicating poverty in the context of official development assistance.
Richard Seeber (PPE-DE). – (DE) Mr President, the Austrian ÖVP delegation abstained from the vote on this report because we feel that this falls under subsidiarity and that decisions should be taken by the regional, local and national authorities. This is undoubtedly a tragedy for the individuals involved. However, the decision-making process should not be transferred to Brussels for political reasons. It should remain in the hands of the relevant local authorities.
Hélène Goudin and Nils Lundgren (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) We understand that there may be considerable problems within the construction sector in Spain and that situations may arise in which unsuspecting people buy properties in good faith which, it subsequently emerges, the construction companies had no legal right to build. These are, however, problems that can and must be solved within the legal framework of the Member State concerned. There is no reason to introduce any legislation at EU level in order to deal with these issues.
Bruno Gollnisch (ITS), in writing. – (FR) You want to make the so-called ‘legal’ trade in what you call traditional weapons more ethical, and ban it according to criteria relating to their probable use (terrorist acts, human rights violations, aggravating or triggering conflicts, etc.). This is certainly a laudable intention.
But at the same time, and for several years, the European Union has repeatedly been shaken by a debate on whether to lift the arms embargo on China. That country is still a communist dictatorship, where there are still laogai, forced labour, persecution of Christians, the subjugation of the Tibetan people, etc.
In this context, your vague desire appears at best hypocritical, and at worst cynical.
Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Last December, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution starting the process towards the creation of an Arms Trade Treaty. The resolution enjoyed the support of 153 countries, with the USA the only UN Member State to vote against the creation of the Treaty.
According to the 2007 Annual Report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute – and as highlighted by our group – worldwide military spending reached USD 1 104 billion at current prices, that is to say, 3.5% up on the 2005 figure. What is more, between 1997 and 2006, the amount rose by 37%.
In the context of this very dangerous increase, incidents have occurred that illustrate how the illegal arms trade has risen dramatically. Take, for example, the alleged payment of over GBP 1 billion in bribes by BAE Systems, with the consent of the British Defence Minister, to the Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan.
It must also be said that the arms trade regulation will have more teeth if accompanied by a process of multilateral, reciprocal disarmament, and in particular the dismantling of vast nuclear arsenals.
Athanasios Pafilis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) The Greek Communist Party abstained from the vote on the joint resolution by the political groups (Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats, Socialist Group in the European Parliament, Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, Union for Europe of the Nations Group and Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left) on the establishment of common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional weapons because:
• it considers it incalculable hypocrisy, at a time when between 1997 and 2006 military spending increased by 37% globally, with the countries of the ΕU (France, Britain and Germany) in the top five exporters of conventional weapons, that no mention is made of this;
• it is at the very least naïve to call for 'rules' from multinational arms companies which are responsible for moving and selling conventional weapons, including to organised crime, which is also the field for their international purchases. Moreover, for every export they know both the companies and the countries in which they are established;
• we cannot sign alongside parties and political groups which support the development of the arms industry, whose governments have armed in the past and who are today still arming reactionary regimes and paramilitary and militaristic organisations and trying to make out that they are the archangels of international rules and disarmament;
• we will not help to create the illusion among the people that the imperialists and their companies will accept 'fair rules'. For them, the criteria for exports of and the trade in arms are their political interests and profit.
Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) I wholeheartedly endorse the content of this resolution. Countries have a right and a duty to defend their populations and to guarantee peace on their territory and the integrity of their borders. Illegal and irresponsible trade that flouts decent standards of behaviour is one of the main factors fomenting conflicts, wars and death. The arms trade, which lacks an international code of conduct that would bring to book those responsible, is something that we must be consistent and proactive in condemning, in the future, of course, but also right now. The fact that we do not yet have a code at international level should not water down the stance of EU Member States and our allies, nor make us less demanding. There are values on which one must not compromise.
Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE-DE). – (SK) In substance, juvenile delinquency is an alarming phenomenon due to its mass scale. We have witnessed the growth of a number of crimes committed by children under 13 years old. Unfortunately, statistics show that these crimes are becoming crueller. Reasons for juvenile delinquency are surely multi-factorial, for example, socio-economic conditions, the environments where youth gather, family and school, the gang milieu, improper friends, and the early abuse of alcohol and all kinds of drugs.
I would like to praise the fact that, unlike in the recent past, the adopted document finally stresses the absolutely indispensable role of a close family, in which the father and mother devote sufficient time to their children. Otherwise, in the formation of their personalities, children will lack any role models in their own family. At last, the recommendation has been given that the Member States should furnish adequate support for families and parents. I am also appealing to all stakeholders to speak up and restrict the constant display of excessive violence, pornographic scenes, and scenes showing drug consumption in the mass media. Such images also appear on Internet sites or in generally available videogames. I am glad to see that the way forward is not only through repression of negative phenomena but, first and foremost, through primary prevention.
Frank Vanhecke (ITS). – (NL) Mr President, I have voted against the Batzeli report because, as I see it, this House is once again refusing to face reality, it misjudges the causes of crime among young people and is, by and large, offering incorrect solutions. In particular, this House remains positively blind to the disproportionately high level of crime among young immigrants and particularly young Muslims, even though it is a phenomenon that is clearly prevalent in all European Member States. When explanations are given, they only refer to all kinds of socio-economic factors, while cultural elements are also clearly part of the mix, as is evidenced by the findings by Marion van San, the Dutch expert, on this subject matter.
Solace is once again being sought in all kinds of necessary – I have to admit – social and preventive measures, while judicial and repressive measures are left untouched; it should be clear to everyone that desperate situations call for desperate measures.
Jan Andersson, Göran Färm, Anna Hedh, Inger Segelström and Åsa Westlund (PSE), in writing. (SV) It is important to analyse the Member States’ different experiences of youth crime and to disseminate good practice. However, this can be done within the framework of already existing structures at national level, as well as at Community level. We therefore voted against paragraph 33 on setting up a European Juvenile Delinquency Observatory.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We abstained from the final vote on the report because our most important proposals were not included. These were as follows:
- considers that the values enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child of 20 November 1989 must be promoted.
- stresses the importance of (initial and permanent) training for magistrates working with minors, in this case delinquents, and the placement of specialists in other areas in youth courts, in order that they can take action before it is too late.
We feel that the rights of the child should be promoted and given greater visibility, and believe that strong action must be taken when it comes to juvenile delinquents, for example by suspending the implementation of youth behaviour plans, which should involve the individual in question and his or her parents or guardians.
Given that, in most cases, there are social and economic factors underlying juvenile delinquency, living standards for families must be improved in such a way that they pay more attention to children and young people.
We therefore advocate investing in prevention and not in legal proceedings, which is the line taken by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats. Although they did not entirely achieve their objectives they did succeed in making the original report worse.
Bruno Gollnisch (ITS), in writing. – (FR) Despite a few flashes, the rapporteur seems to be a follower of the culture of excuse and to be convinced that only society is guilty of the crimes suffered by its members. He thus delivers analyses and proposals that are at the very least surprising.
It borders on the absurd, with ‘tertiary prevention’ (sic!) reserved for known offenders, or ‘an up-to-date approach to conflict management at school’. Those Members who understand what that means should go and apply this ‘approach’ on the ground, in place of the admirable teachers who go to work every day with the fear of being hit or even stabbed for a misinterpreted look or bad mark!
It is verging on lunacy when it talks about management of ‘juvenile delinquency, moving towards decriminalisation, depenalisation and a lessening of the jurisdiction of courts and other institutions’? Sic again?! A crime that is no longer a crime if it is committed by a minor! A murderer who would no longer be punished because he is under 18!
Whatever you think, the best kinds of prevention cannot work without penalties, otherwise society will become a jungle in which the weakest are the first victims.
Astrid Lulling (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) Given that juvenile delinquency is a major problem in all Member States, it would be disastrous for the EP to send the wrong signal.
Two themes in this report are crucial:
1) The lessening of the jurisdiction of courts and other institutions in the justice system for juveniles.
This system has existed since 1991 in a Member State, and youth magistrates recently demonstrated outside their court because the system is a ‘failure to help people in danger’.
The ombudsman for children in that country made the following comment: ‘the authorities are sending a message of powerlessness, impunity and abandonment to young people’.
Fortunately, the lessening of the jurisdiction of courts was not maintained.
2) The issue of ‘penalties’ has once again become a major theme in the European political discourse.
The opinion of the ESC on juvenile delinquency also placed an emphasis on the pillars for an effective response to juvenile delinquency of prevention, judicial and extra-judicial measures, rehabilitation, integration and social re-integration.
I was able to vote in favour of this report because our amendment, which is along the same lines, was adopted.
We should ask ourselves whether it is the job of the European Parliament to give instructions to the Member States on how to organise their criminal systems.
The creation of a new European observatory on juvenile delinquency is not necessary. Modern communications mean that it is easy for the national observatories to network with each other.
Viorica-Pompilia-Georgeta Moisuc (ITS). – Propunerea de intrare în vigoare a Tratatului Constituţional, cu precizarea de numire în funcţie a unui ministru de externe şi a unui aparat diplomatic corespunzător, mi se pare hazardată în situaţia în care acest Tratat a fost respins de unele state europene, iar în statele nou intrate în Uniune nici măcar nu a fost pus în discuţie.
Lipsurile grave în privinţa respectării drepturilor şi libertăţilor omului, în special în ţările terţe, cu care Uniunea are relaţii speciale, mi se par a fi tratate global şi generalizant, problema fiind mult mai complexă. Un exemplu: ignorarea totală a acestui lucru în zona Transnistria este o chestiune minimalizată în raport. După părerea mea, situaţia drepturilor omului în Transnistria ar necesita ea însăşi o dezbatere aparte, pentru că este vorba de un focar de insecuritate la frontiera de est a Uniunii Europene.
Combaterea corupţiei în statele Uniunii Europene, nu numai în statele terţe, trebuie văzută şi urmărită atent, deoarece se petrec alunecări periculoase chiar în sânul comunităţii europene, ce trec cvasi-neobservate. Un exemplu: în România au fost puşi sub acuzare şi urmărire penală, pentru însuşire de sume mari de bani, fals şi uz de fals, o serie de membri ai actualului guvern, dintre care şi unii membri ai ungurilor din România, cetăţeni români. Reacţia guvernului de la Budapesta a fost promptă: a cerut oficial explicaţii guvernului român pentru aceasta, politizând acţiunea Parchetului General. Este un gest nu numai reprobabil, dar şi de amestec făţiş în treburile interne ale unui stat vecin, membru al Uniunii Europene. Este motivul pentru care noi am supus acest raport unui vot negativ.
Frank Vanhecke (ITS). – (NL) Mr President, the Klich report is, in my eyes, yet another report in which Parliament simply chooses to ignore the will of the majority of French and Dutch people expressed democratically in their referendums, and continues to implement sections of this European Constitution in a very backhanded way. It is, as I see it, unacceptable and undemocratic that people should openly insist on the passerelle clause being activated, and I quote: ‘in step with the constitutional process’.
Moreover, it is equally unacceptable that people should insist on the introduction of qualified majorities in the areas of migration and integration. I think the individual Member States and peoples are entitled to a right of veto and should be able to remain in charge of their own labour market. Whilst this may all be very European, it is certainly not democratic.
Bruno Gollnisch (ITS), in writing. – (FR) What if our external borders are sieves? Let us open them up to even more immigration that we will describe as ‘legal’ or ‘chosen’ or ‘relaxing visa policy’. What if the terrorists have set out to destroy our Western societies, out of hatred for their political foundations and values? Let us threaten to ostracise the States that support them and concentrate on the most important thing: a common definition of terrorism at the UN! The families of the victims of the attacks in London and Madrid will appreciate this semantic definition. What if our police services are collapsing under the absurd and bureaucratic demands of Europol? Let us give it the power to give them even more futile orders and give its bureaucrats the power to expedite investigations.
Let us think clearly: by destroying the internal borders of the European Union without strengthening the external borders, the creation of the area of ‘freedom, security and justice’ has encouraged the explosion of illegal immigration, trafficking and cross-border crime, and made our States more vulnerable to terrorism.
So yes, cooperation and solidarity in these areas are essential, but they must be in the context of intergovernmental cooperation between States with borders that are nationally defined and controlled.
Carl Lang (ITS), in writing. – (FR) Having failed to construct an ‘area of freedom, security and justice’, the real haven of peace that Europe should have become after the ratification of the Schengen agreements, Brussels is worrying about its ‘external dimension’.
Europe wants to export its democratic values and its principles of the rule of law based on respect for human rights and the existence of sound institutions.
All of this is highly commendable. But what are the real methods that it is proposing? Eternal propaganda in favour of the developing world, immigration and Europe.
The report therefore asks us to activate the passerelle clause in Article 42 of the Treaty, which would bring the provisions concerning judicial and police cooperation and illegal immigration within the Community framework. The Member States would then be bound by decisions adopted by a majority of other States, even if they did not accept them.
The creation of a European ministry for foreign affairs, a proposal that was put forward in the Constitutional Treaty, which was itself rejected by French and Dutch referendums, is once again on the agenda. So once again we are talking about taking a little more of the Member States’ sovereign powers away and giving them to Brussels. What this report proposes is not more democracy but even more subservience.
Athanasios Pafilis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) The report promotes the implementation of a more aggressive foreign policy against nations and peoples and a more autocratic and repressive policy within the EU.
1. It calls for the enactment of the European Constitution, which is formally and materially dead, so that it can be safeguarded even further through the application of reactionary, anti-democratic laws in the name of terrorism. It is typical that the anti-fascist demonstrations in the Baltic countries are referred to as 'violent, radical tendencies among the Russian minorities'. It also calls for:
• repressive mechanisms at European level to be made more effective;
• all aspects of policy (military, economic, civil) to be used in order to exercise blatant coercion and thereby subjugate peoples and countries;
• cooperation with the USA to be strengthened;
• any differences between the Member States to be limited by taking a stand of 'the EU with one voice'.
2. In the field of international relations and dealings it adopts an American recipe for exporting internal law and converting it to international law by laying down unacceptable 'democracy', 'terrorism' and 'human rights' clauses, even in trade, thereby overturning basic principles of international law. It appoints itself as the inquisitor for human rights and democracy, trying to institutionalise the principle of 'whoever is with me'; in other words, whoever does not accept capitalism is an adversary.
3. In voting in favour of the report, the New Democracy and PASOK parties have shown that they are two sides of the same coin and have joined forces in order to strengthen the EU and establish the new imperialist order.
Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) The most recent Commission communication on this issue advocates a strategy that is coherent and that is drawn up in conjunction with the countries of origin of immigration, in particular illegal immigration. This is the right approach and one that we support. At the same time, as an integral part of this policy, channels must be created to facilitate legal immigration, by publicising the potential risks and consequences of illegal immigration, and by making legal channels simple and transparent.
This approach also involves investing in creating jobs, in conjunction with these countries. Otherwise, while there is destitution on one side and the attraction of job opportunities on the other, there will always be immigration, and the process of immigration will be pursued illegally if there is no other way to enter the country.
Lastly, there is also the need, of course, to renew and strengthen cooperation with Mediterranean countries, due – albeit not exclusively – to immigration.
Philip Claeys (ITS). – (NL) Mr President, I am not exaggerating when I say that this House, with its approval of the Roure report, is fundamentally undermining the freedom of opinion, as enshrined in various international agreements. In this respect, the Roure report goes much further than all these previous ideological reports supporting one-way racism, which this House appears to have a patent on. Indeed, with the unconditional support for the dangerous framework decision, this House is in favour of making the expression of opinions and convictions a criminal offence in a way that is reminiscent of totalitarian regimes.
‘Every opinion’ – and I quote verbatim from the report – ‘that could bring about illegal behaviour, will from hereon in be punishable in every European Member State’. Accordingly, any deviation from the prevailing political discourse on immigration, national identity and Islamisation will be nipped in the bud. The spirit of Voltaire’s tolerance, so exquisitely expressed in the phrase ‘I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it’, is being desecrated by European officialdom. This Europe is far more dangerous than the imaginary ogre it claims to be fighting. This Europe is a danger to democracy.
Bruno Gollnisch (ITS), in writing. – (FR) On 19 April, the European Ministers of Justice reached a political agreement on combating racism in Europe with great difficulty. It is a new legal instrument that will restrict freedom of expression even further.
In this respect we would like to thank the Member States who put up some resistance to the adoption of this text, who believe that limiting freedom of expression is not the way to combat racism. They are Great Britain, Italy, Ireland and some Scandinavian countries.
Freedom of expression is a fundamental freedom. It may only be limited by civil law in cases of invasion of private life, libel or inciting people to commit a crime.
Why is such a text relevant or appropriate at this time? At a time when Europe’s borders have disappeared, causing an explosion of illegal immigration and cross-border criminality, is it not more urgent to ensure the security of the European people in their own territory than to worry about penalising expressions that are allegedly racist?
Finally, I would like to highlight the curious lack of condemnation of the crimes of Stalin or of the Armenian genocide in this text. Only the crimes of Hitler and crimes that are recognised by international courts (Srebrenica, Rwanda) are listed. This text is aiming to restrict freedom, and it is untimely and sectarian. We shall vote against it.
Andreas Mölzer (ITS), in writing. (DE) In law, everyone is equal: but some are more equal than others. Currently, migrants in the EU appear to enjoy a certain degree of freedom. Not only does ill-conceived consideration for other mores mean that individuals are released without charge, but the media also fail to report on criminality and racism among migrants. The do-gooders are still churning out indignation, with long demonstrations and loud calls to combat racism.
On the government side, the racism card is played to get rid of disagreeable opponents. National parties with strong ties to their country are banned under the pretext that they are racist merely because they quote official government statistics about above-average crime rates among immigrants. This should not be allowed in a democracy. Multi-cultural idealists are intent on taking us at full speed towards the safety barriers, and the proposed framework decision on combating racism is another step on the road towards a totalitarian state. Someone needs to grab the handbrake, which is why I voted against Mrs Roure's report.
Andrzej Jan Szejna (PSE), in writing. (PL) I am voting in favour of the adoption of the report by Mrs Roure entitled ‘Combating racism and xenophobia: progress in the negotiations on the framework decision’.
Racially motivated crimes remain an ongoing problem in all Member States. It is estimated that over nine million people become victims of racially motivated crime every year. At the same time, the significant differences between legal provisions on combating racism and xenophobia in European Union Member States make it impossible to combat these incidents effectively at cross-border or European level.
Accordingly, clear political support should be given to the Europe of citizens and the framework decision adopted so as to provide strong protection for fundamental rights. In this connection, a sound legal framework aimed at combating racism and xenophobia should also be developed by facilitating the swift adoption of the horizontal directive on combating discrimination pursuant to Article 13 of the Treaty on European Union, providing for effective, proportional and deterrent penal sanctions.
Zita Pleštinská (PPE-DE). – (SK) Mr President, I would first like to join all those greeting you on your name day today. The problem of refugees bears not only on critical regions such as Malta. Refugees are living among us as well. My country – Slovakia – is predominantly a transit country for foreigners forced to flee armed conflicts. Many of them have found their new homes here and asserted themselves in the labour market.
Referring to discussions on the report on asylum, practical cooperation and the quality of decision-making in the common European Asylum System prepared by our colleague Hubert Pirker, I would like from the bottom of my heart to express my gratitude to the Council for Migrants and Refugees of the Conference of Bishops of Slovakia, and to praise their sensitive and exemplary approach to the resolution of the extremely difficult situation of refugees.
The discussions on Hubert Pirker’s report are taking place in European Parliament on June 20, in other words the very day that has been declared the World Day of Refugees by the United Nations General Assembly. I take this as a symbol of the solidarity of the European Parliament with the Member States that are struggling to resolve the difficult situation of refugees. I am grateful to the rapporteur for this report, which I supported with my vote as a step towards achieving a common asylum system in the EU. It is an excellent foundation for decisions that need to be swift, secure and just for all concerned.
Frank Vanhecke (ITS). – (NL) Mr President, even though I think that we in this House have already seen a lot in terms of reports, I have the impression that where refugee policy is concerned, the Pirker report beats them all. What does this report say, word for word? It says that a forward-looking common asylum policy is based on, and I quote ‘the obligation to admit asylum seekers and the principle of sending them home not being an option’. This is not only pure nonsense from a legal and international law point of view, it also sends out an entirely wrong political message.
As I see it, a truly forward-looking asylum policy should first and foremost address the reception of genuine asylum seekers in the region and on the continent of the asylum applicants themselves. They can only be received in strictly monitored centres and only those who, following rigorous scrutiny, are recognised as genuine refugees can possibly be received in a country of the European Union for a little while. Crucial in such policy is, of course, the list of safe countries. I regret that, in this respect, the Pirker report is going completely the wrong way, something which we have grown accustomed to, unfortunately, in this European integration process.
Philip Bradbourn (PPE-DE), in writing. Conservatives are completely opposed to a common asylum system for the European Union. It is the sovereign right of a Member State, especially when outside the Schengen accords, to determine its own asylum and immigration policies. For this reason the Conservatives have voted against this report.
Jörg Leichtfried (PSE), in writing. (DE) I am in favour of a common, pro-active EU asylum policy.
This asylum policy should be built on the obligation to allow asylum seekers entry and to respect the principle of non-refoulement. I am also voting in favour of a fairer distribution of the burden between Member States, a common database of countries of origin and information campaigns in the countries of origin and transit.
I support the introduction of a common asylum procedure at EU level by 2010 and the creation of a single status for those individuals who are entitled to seek asylum or subsidiary protection.
Andreas Mölzer (ITS), in writing. (DE) The only commendable point in the report is the plan to conduct information campaigns in the countries of origin. I voted against the proposal, because as long as the United Kingdom accepts 12% of all applications from refugees and Sweden rubber stamps 91% of requests, we will never be able to agree. We cannot tackle asylum shopping with harmonised EU regulations when asylum rights are abused to avoid the legal immigration rules and when our processes are drawn out by pointless appeals, even where there are no grounds for granting asylum.
As long as it is still possible to throw away one's papers, say the magic word, asylum, and remain in the EU for years, there will always be plenty of ways for thieves to stay on the move or go to ground. The only way to tackle this abuse is to only accept asylum applications made in reception camps outside the EU's borders.
Athanasios Pafilis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) The report reflects and maps the hostile policy of the EU towards immigrants and refugees. It avoids talking about the causes which generate the waves of immigrants and refugees: the imperialist wars and interventions by the EU, the USA and ΝΑΤΟ and the plundering exploitation of the wealth-producing resources of countries and peoples throughout the world. Thousands of immigrants and refugees are drowning on the maritime borders of the ΕU and being kept in 'concentration camps' in the countries of the ΕU, under conditions which are a disgrace to human civilisation. The images of absolute misery and barbaric treatment of immigrants and refugees which the European Parliament mission encountered a few days ago in the holding centres in Samos and Athens are a typical example. The Greek Government granted asylum to 39 people (0.84%) out of 4 624 applicants. The situation is similar in the other Member States of the ΕU. The report, with the measures for a European repatriation procedure and a list of 'safe third countries', basically promotes the abolition of asylum, while its proposals for the application of monitoring systems and biometric databases within the framework of a joint asylum system deals with refugees with repressive means. It exacerbates the drastic situation of refugees in the EU, thereby revealing in all its majesty the inhumane and barbaric nature of this imperialist Union and its exploitative capitalist system.
Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) The number of asylum seekers rises daily throughout the EU.
Many people’s desperation has led to tragic consequences.
It is vital for the EU to establish shared rules that will help prevent a repetition of such situations and will lay the foundations for mutual assistance between Member States, given that the pressures they face vary, often according to their geographical location.
The establishment of a common European asylum system should be based on three major axes: the introduction of a uniform procedure, the sharing of information about countries of origin and closer cooperation among the Member States in order to help those Member States that are under particular pressure. Close ties between the Member States’ authorities must therefore be encouraged, with the ultimate aim of improving the quality of the decision-making process, which needs to be quicker, fairer and more reliable. Only in this way will we be able to accomplish the goal of a common asylum system by 2010.
Martine Roure (PSE), in writing. – (FR) The European Union has always insisted that the deadline for establishing a common asylum system by 2010 should be maintained. Improving the quality of decisions should bring the policies of the Member States closer together in order to arrive at this common system. Improving the quality of the decisions taken should allow people needing protection to enter the EU safely and to have their applications properly examined.
We must fight the tendency of some people to think that improving decisions on asylum will reduce the number of asylum applications. The common asylum policy must, above all, protect people and guarantee the right to asylum and the principle of non-refoulement according to the Geneva Conventions. I also reject any attempt to externalise asylum applications. This is why I tabled and voted in favour of amendments to the list of safe third countries. I find it worrying that the Commission is considering this list in the absence of codecision for the European Parliament and without awaiting the decision of the European Court of Justice, which we have referred to on this point.
Carl Schlyter (Verts/ALE), in writing. (SV) Despite the fact that I am opposed to a common asylum policy which – and all experience indicates this - undermines the rights of asylum seekers, I am abstaining from voting because the proposed improvements do not, in spite of everything, justify rejection.
Bruno Gollnisch (ITS), in writing. – (FR) I would like to make a few comments on this report.
It is certain that in terms of digital commerce, consumers are in a weak position. This is particularly true in the case of eBay: you have to trust your correspondent, for example if you are buying, to send the product to you, whether you ordered it in your own country or abroad.
There are some tools, such as PayPal, which are supposed to make this type of transaction safe, but they are not very practical or easy for the average person to use. Something needs to be done to increase consumer confidence in e-commerce, which is a vast, expanding sector.
But we should also be very careful not to over-regulate this market and not to create excessive confidence among consumers. We must always keep in mind that there is such a thing as what we call the ‘informed and responsible consumer’, who can himself find out information about the product, and, if problems occur, make use of the existing legal instruments.
Consequently, I think that improving the quality of the existing instruments (for example, the legal guarantee) and informing consumers about them is the first objective that we should set ourselves, before creating new consumer protection laws.