Procedure : 2007/2639(RSP)
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Document selected : B6-0425/2008

Texts tabled :

B6-0425/2008

Debates :

Votes :

PV 25/09/2008 - 7.3
CRE 25/09/2008 - 7.3
Explanations of votes
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Texts adopted :

P6_TA(2008)0458

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION
PDF 121kWORD 66k
17.9.2008
PE413.273
 
B6‑0425/2008
further to Questions for Oral Answer B6‑0006/2008 and B6‑0007/2008
pursuant to Rule 108(5) of the Rules of Procedure
by Gérard Deprez
on behalf of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs
on the annual debate on the progress made in 2007 in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ) (Articles 2 and 39 of the EU Treaty)

European Parliament resolution on the annual debate on the progress made in 2007 in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ) (Articles 2 and 39 of the EU Treaty) 
B6‑0425/2008

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 2, 6 and 39 of the Treaty on European Union and Articles 13, 17 to 22, 61 to 69, 255 and 286 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, which form the main legal basis for the development of the EU and the Community as an area of freedom, security and justice,

–  having regard to Oral Questions B6-0006/2008 and B6-0007/2008,

–  having regard to Rule 108(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas Member States have prime responsibility for ensuring freedom, security and justice for their citizens; whereas, however, following the entry into force of the Treaty of Maastricht and, even more, that of the Treaty of Amsterdam, the European Union is required to contribute to the achievement of these same objectives, bearing in mind the expectations of European citizens as regards the protection of fundamental rights and the application within the Union of the principles of the rule of law and sincere and effective cooperation between its Member States;

B.  whereas the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty is an essential and urgent condition for ensuring that the EU is an area of freedom, security and justice (AFSJ) as it contains fundamental improvements to the legitimacy and effectiveness of EU action,

C.  whereas the comments made both at the preparatory meeting of 26 November 2007 with the national parliaments(1) and during the most recent debate in plenary on 31 January 2008 underlined the importance of laying thorough groundwork for the transition to the new legal framework that will result from the ratification of the Treaty signed in Lisbon on 13 December 2007(2), which amends the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and establishes a Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

D.  aware, however, that the establishment of a genuine AFSJ is far from having been completed and still faces major difficulties and obstacles, as confirmed in the Commission's third report on the implementation in 2007 of the Hague Programme (COM(2008) 373, SEC(2008) 2048, SEC(2008) 2049),

E.  regretting that, as this report stresses and notwithstanding the adoption of a number of major measures, the programme established by the Hague European Council in 2004 is seriously behind schedule and, in particular, that

   there is still a serious lack of mutual trust and, above all, solidarity between Member States, especially as regards policies on legal and illegal immigration and judicial and police cooperation in criminal matters,
   these problems also affect the phase of transposition of the few measures adopted since 'an insufficient level of achievement was evident in the following areas: Visa Policy, Sharing of Information among Law Enforcement and Judicial Authorities, Prevention of and the Fight against Organised Crime, Management of Crises within the European Union, Police and Customs Cooperation and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters',

F.   noting that the Member States themselves mention these problems in the context of their preparatory work for the future programme of the AFSJ for the period 2010-2014 (see the reports of the Future Group - Doc 11657/08, the Home Affairs Group - Doc. .../08 and the Justice Group, as well as the contributions of other Member States submitted to the Council and the Commission), recognising that the existing 'acquis' in the field of European Home Affairs which was developed step by step is necessarily unstructured and therefore difficult to explain to European citizens; noting that it is sometimes hard to understand even for specialists and that some of these instruments overlap and the legal basis for some actions can be found in different acts; noting, finally, that it is becoming increasingly difficult and time-consuming to monitor the proper implementation of European Union directives by as many as 27 Member States,

G.  convinced, however, like the Council, that the European Union has no other choice but to insist on implementing the AFSJ, 'which touches the core of the national constitutional orders', and that 'Member States have a special interest in maintaining a dialogue with each other' as much as with the European institutions,

H.  convinced that, in this transitional phase towards the conclusion of the ratification of the new Treaty, it is necessary to adopt before the end of 2009 certain general measures which, while drawing their inspiration from the Lisbon Treaty, could still be adopted under the present Treaties in full compliance with Article 18 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, and which could reduce the adverse effects of the problems mentioned above; whereas these would include measures to:

   take account of the institutions' procedures, structures and decisions, and of the principles and objectives set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights, proclaimed in Strasbourg on 12 December 2007(3),
   promote decision-making transparency at European and national level, in particular in connection with the AFSJ, in accordance with the recent judgment of the Court of Justice on legislative transparency (Turco case),
   effectively involve the national parliaments in the establishment and implementation of the AFSJ, including as regards assessment of these policies in the other Member States and by European agencies,
   ensure respect for the primacy of Community law over EU law (Article 47 TEU) in the conclusion of international agreements, especially in the case of sanctions affecting nationals of third countries or where European citizens are liable to be discriminated against (visa waiver); the European Parliament should systematically be associated in the conclusion by the EU of international agreements relating to judicial and police cooperation in criminal matters,
   strengthen sincere cooperation and solidarity between Member States in implementing policies and measures taken by the EU by strengthening and democratising the mutual assessment mechanisms already provided for in Schengen cooperation and in the fight against terrorism,
   initiate enhanced cooperation under the first pillar where the required unanimity is impossible to achieve (see the case of the proposal on divorce),
   go beyond the as yet embryonic and uncertain nature of initiatives conducted by the agencies set up by the European Union and cooperation with national administrations,
   set up a genuine communication policy enabling European citizens to be better informed of initiatives established at European and national level and to become familiar with the relevant European and national authorities which they can contact without prejudice to court action with regard to aspects liable to affect citizens' fundamental rights,

placeI.  whereas, during this transition period, it is all the more important, in the interests of European citizens, to take account of the improvements the new Treaty brings in terms of:

   the protection of fundamental rights, as laid down in the Charter of Fundamental    Rights proclaimed in CityplaceStrasbourg on 12 December 2007(4),
   the judicial control exercised by the Court of Justice, including on legislation    pertaining to police and judicial control,
   the democratic control resulting from the extension of codecision by the European    Parliament and from the involvement of national parliaments in the European    lawmaking process and in the assessment of its impact, including with regard to    policies linked to the area of freedom, security and justice,

J.  regretting that, under the present Treaties, European citizens' means of redress vis-à-vis AFSJ measures are still more limited than in other areas of EU activity, that the Court of Justice's powers are limited, in particular in the area of judicial and police cooperation in criminal matters and that, in addition, some Member States still restrict dialogue between European and national courts in this area; calling on the Council to postpone the adoption of any measure which might affect fundamental rights until the period after the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty,

1.  Calls on the European Council, the Council and the Commission to:

   (a)initiate as from now the process of determining priorities for the forthcoming AFSJ multiannual programme for the period 2010-2014, on the basis of an ambitious and coherent approach, going far beyond ministerial thinking, and drawing its inspiration from the objectives and principles laid down by the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which the institutions proclaimed in Nice in 2000 and again in Lisbon on 12 December 2007;
   (b)join the European Parliament in its dialogue with the national parliaments on the priorities for the period 2010-1014, taking into account the problems encountered in implementing the Tampere and Hague programmes, the work carried out within the Council and the European Council's initial strategic indications regarding immigration, asylum and integration; this initial phase of dialogue should be completed at the European Parliament’s 2008 annual debate and lead subsequently to a Commission communication, on the understanding that it will be up to the newly elected European Parliament and the European Council to adopt the final programme at the appropriate time;
   (c)agree with Parliament a list of texts/proposals that could or should be adopted as a matter of priority before the Treaty’s entry into force and, at any rate, before the end of the present term;
   (d)make progress in negotiations on proposals for police and judicial cooperation (which will be subject to codecision) by seeking a political agreement with    Parliament, and ensure that, once this agreement is in place:

   either the formal adoption is postponed until the entry into force of the new Treaty,
   or the Council adopts the decision/framework decisions in question under the current Treaty, while agreeing to re-adopt them under the new Treaty, which would enable the Court to exercise full judicial control; should a political agreement already have been reached beforehand, Parliament could agree not to re-open negotiations on the substance, as is the case in the adoption procedure for official codification(5);

2.  Proposes the following as priorities regarding areas subject or to be subject to codecision/ assent during the transition period:

in the area of fundamental rights and citizenship

–  defining more transparent criteria at EU level, in particular where EU measures might undermine guarantees protected under the constitutions of the Member States (Article 52 of the Charter and Article 8 of the ECHR) and revising European measures censured by the Court of Justice (see cases PMOI, SISON and others, T-253/04, Case T-229/02, on black lists),

–  systematically taking account of the impact on fundamental rights of European legislation and national implementing measures, in particular with regard to the fight against terrorism, taking account of the replies recently sent to the Commission in this area by the Member States,

–  initiating the preparatory dialogues for the negotiating mandate for the EU’s accession to the ECHR (Article 6(2) TEU),

–  revising the programme of activities of the Fundamental Rights Agency, taking account of the priorities indicated by the institutions, and in particular by Parliament, in the area of judicial and police cooperation and respect for EU principles (Article 7 of the TEU) (see the interinstitutional declaration adopted at the time of adoption of the founding regulation),

–  putting forward a legislative proposal to restrict direct and indirect discrimination affecting the movement of European citizens, access to justice in a country other than the country of origin and consular and diplomatic protection in third countries (Article 20 TFEU),

–  submitting a proposal concerning the transparency and confidentiality of information and documents handled by the EU institutions,

–  submitting a proposal concerning data protection (providing for the consolidation of measures that currently vary according to pillar), in response to concern about the rapid erosion of data protection standards in the European Union, with particular reference to inadequate standards of protection for transatlantic data transfers and urging the Council to adapt the Framework Decision on Data Protection in the Third Pillar in line with Parliament's recommendations,

–  strengthening the internal structures of institutions responsible for protecting fundamental rights in the EU, in particular within the Council (conversion of the Council’s Ad hoc Working Group on Fundamental Rights and Citizenship into a Standing Group, as proposed by the Slovenian Presidency),

–  strengthening, through administrative cooperation (Article 66 TEC), the dialogue between the Member States, mutual knowledge of legal systems, the activation of the dialogue procedure to involve the national parliaments and the European Parliament, in particular where difficulties arise in the implementation of European strategies and measures affecting the AFSJ,

regarding the European judicial area

–  revising the legislative proposal on the rights of individuals in criminal procedure (Article 69e TFEU),

–  submitting a proposal on the rights of victims of crime and terrorism (Article 69e TFEU),

–  improving mutual recognition among the Member States both of measures taken in absentia and of evidence (Article 69e TFEU),

–  interconnecting criminal records,

–  revising the status of Europol, Eurojust and the European Judicial Network in the light of the new legal basis,

regarding border protection

–  adopting appropriate measures to ensure the full entry into use of SIS II and the entry into force of the decisions linked to the Prüm Convention,

–  strengthening Frontex and assessing the impact of the Commission’s new proposals for border controls,

–  strengthening Frontex's information on the agreements signed by the Agency with third countries and on the evaluation reports on joint operations, and ensuring that border checks are respectful of human rights; amending the Agency mandate to include sea rescuing operations,

–  establishing structured cooperation between Frontex and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to simplify the operations involved, taking into account the protection of human rights,

regarding migration and asylum

–  swift and ambitious action by the Commission and the Council to push placeEurope's forward-looking strategy on:

   olegal migration: the forthcoming legal migration package (Blue Card Single Application procedure, seasonal workers, and the Intra-Corporate Transferees and remunerated trainees proposal as well as others),
   oillegal migration: proposals including sanctions and an EU resettlement scheme,
   oasylum: implementation of Phase II, including revision of the Directive on minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing refugee status and the Directive on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection and the content of the protection granted, and the establishment of a European Asylum Support Office,
   odevelopment of a Community policy on migration and asylum based on the opening up of channels for legal migration and on the definition of common standards for the protection of migrants and asylum seekers' fundamental rights in the EU,
   oinclusion, within European decisions and framework decisions, of all provisions established by the International Convention on the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 18 December 1990,
   oa proposal concerning the right of long-term residents to vote at European and local elections, a right which could help the social, cultural and political integration of migrants;

3.  Welcomes the proposal for the completion of the anti-discrimination package and urges Council to act in the spirit of the Lisbon Treaty and incorporate Parliament's recommendations;

4.  Considers that, from now on, the national parliaments and civil society should be involved in a structured manner in drafting these legislative measures and in evaluating these policies in the Member States; asks the Commission and the Council, with this aim in mind, to re-examine with Parliament the networks, agencies and instruments that would assess the impact of AFSJ policies and to aid closer interaction with European civil society;

5.  Stresses that the new Treaty, once ratified, will recognise Parliament’s role in the conclusion of international agreements concerning AFSJ policies; asks, in this context:

   to be consulted in good time on all agreements with third countries that will not       have been concluded by 31 December 2008,
   to receive regular updates on the negotiations under way,

   as a matter of urgency, that a debate be held on the external dimension of the AFSJ as the EU is creating de facto police and justice cooperation with third countries, notably the US, by means of bilateral agreements on a range of issues, thereby circumventing formal democratic decision-making procedures and parliamentary scrutiny;

6.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States, and to invite these parliaments to submit their comments, suggestions and proposals by 15 November 2008, in time for the December 2008 annual debate on the AFSJ.

(1)http://www.europarl.europa.eu/document/activities/cont/200801/20080117ATT19095/20080117ATT19095EN.pdf
(2) Text available at: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/showPage.asp?id=1296&lang=en
(3) Text: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/JOHtml.do?uri=OJ:C:2007:303:SOM:EN:html
(4) Text: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/JOHtml.do?uri=OJ:C:2007:303:SOM:EN:html
(5) Paragraph 4 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 20 December 1994 on the accelerated working method for official codification of legislative texts, OJ C 102, 4.4.1996, p. 2.

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