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Четвъртък, 19 април 2012 г. - Страсбург Редактирана версия

10. Присъединяване на ЕС към Конвенцията за защита на правата на човека и основните свободи (разискване)
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  Presidente. − L'ordine del giorno reca la discussione sulle dichiarazioni del Consiglio e della Commissione sull'adesione dell'UE alla CEDU.

 
  
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  Morten Bødskov, formand for Rådet. − Fru formand! Kære medlemmer! Kære kommissær Kallas! Tak for muligheden for at deltage i debatten om den europæiske menneskerettighedskonvention. Det følger som bekendt af Lissabontraktaten, at EU tiltræder den europæiske menneskerettighedskonvention. EU's tiltrædelse af konventionen er et meget vigtigt skridt for beskyttelsen af menneskerettighederne i EU. Sagen er derfor særdeles vigtig for EU som sådan, ligesom den er vigtig for det danske formandskab for Rådet. Jeg ved, at sagen selvfølgelig også er meget vigtig for Europa-Parlamentet. Det fremgår bl.a. af erklæringen af 30. maj 2010, hvori Parlamentet udtrykker sin klare støtte til EU's tiltrædelse til den europæiske menneskerettighedskonvention. Jeg er personligt glad for, at Parlamentet på ny har understreget sagens vigtighed ved at sætte den på dagsordenen her på mødet i dag. Jeg vil derfor gerne igen takke for denne lejlighed til at drøfte sagen, og jeg ser selvfølgelig frem til at høre jeres synspunkter om emnet.

Først vil jeg dog gerne bidrage lidt med status for arbejdet med sagen i Rådet. Siden Kommissionen i juni 2010 fik mandat til på vegne af EU at føre forhandlingerne med Europarådets medlemsstater om EU's tiltrædelse af den europæiske menneskerettighedskonvention, er der blevet arbejdet hårdt for at sikre fremdrift i sagen. Som I ved, har Kommissionen på vegne af EU forhandlet med Europarådets medlemsstater. Kommissionen har i den forbindelse været i løbende kontakt med den relevante arbejdsgruppe i Rådet med henblik på at sikre, at der kan opnås en fælles holdning blandt EU-medlemsstaterne til udkastet til tiltrædelsesaftalen. Forhandlingerne mellem Europarådets medlemslande og Kommissionen blev foreløbigt afsluttet i juni sidste år med et udkast til tiltrædelsestraktat.

Imidlertid var der ikke den nødvendige enighed i Rådet om udkastet til tiltrædelsesaftalen. Siden oktober sidste år er der derfor blevet arbejdet intensivt på at udarbejde et kompromisforslag. Bekymringerne hos enkelte medlemsstater har navnlig vedrørt menneskerettighedsdomstolens kompetence i klagesager i forhold til den fælles udenrigs- og sikkerhedspolitik. Et andet krav, der har været genstand for indgående drøftelser, er EU-medlemsstaternes stemmerettigheder i Europarådets ministerkomité. Derudover indeholder kompromisforslaget en række præciseringer om, at EU ikke er en stat, men en international organisation.

Som bekendt vil Rådets afgørelse om EU's tiltrædelse skulle træffes med enstemmighed. Vi har i formandskabet derfor arbejdet hårdt for at udarbejde et kompromisforslag, som har kunnet imødekomme de bekymringer, som har været rejst. Med henblik på at fastholde fremdriften i disse meget vanskelige forhandlinger har formandskabet valgt at sætte sagen på dagsordenen på rådsmødet her i næste uge. Det er vores forhåbning, at det i lyset af de politiske drøftelser i Rådet - altså i næste uge - vil være muligt at få genoptaget forhandlingerne med de øvrige Europarådslande i Strasbourg i den nærmeste fremtid.

Vi vil under det danske formandskab fortsat arbejde for at sikre fremdrift i forhandlingerne om aftaleudkastet, og vi vil selvfølgelig i denne forbindelse gøre vores yderste for at nå til en fælles EU-holdning til teksten.

 
  
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  Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission. − Madam President, honourable Members, Minister, the Commission is strongly committed to the EU’s rapid accession to the European Convention on Human Rights. In July 2010 the Commission opened technical negotiations on behalf of the Union with a group of fourteen experts appointed by the Steering Committee for Human Rights of the Council of Europe.

The draft accession agreement is based on five basic principles: accession will be neutral regarding the powers of the Union and its institutions; accession will preserve, as much as possible, the existing convention system; accession will be neutral regarding Member States’ obligations under the Convention; accession will not affect the autonomous interpretation of Union law; and accession will be on an equal footing with other parties to the Convention.

The agreement introduces a ‘co-respondent mechanism’ to apply where Member States implement Union law and where the applicant before the European Court of Human Rights challenges that law. In such cases the Union may participate in proceedings before the Court. If the Court concludes that there is a violation of the Convention, the Union will be bound by the judgment and must change its law.

The agreement also ensures the possibility of a prior involvement of the Court of Justice, allowing the European Court of Human Rights to assess the compatibility with the relevant Convention rights of the provision of Union law which is called into question.

The institutional rules of the accession agreement are very important. Firstly, a judge will be elected with respect to the Union at the European Court of Human Rights, with the same status and duties as the judges elected with respect to any other party to the European Convention of Human Rights. Secondly, the European Parliament will have the right to participate in electing all 48 European Court of Human Rights judges. Thirdly, the EU will have a voting right in the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in Convention-related matters.

There will be adequate safeguards to ensure that the Committee of Ministers can effectively exercise its supervisory functions under the Convention, even when the EU and all Member States are obliged to vote in a coordinated manner.

Finally there will be a flat-rate Union financial contribution to the expenditure related to the functioning of the Convention, borne by the budget of the Council of Europe.

The results reached so far come very close to the position expressed by the European Parliament in its own-initiative report of 18 May 2010. Since September 2011, the draft accession agreement has been discussed by the special committee designated by the Council. Some Member States have requested changes to the draft agreement. Good progress has been made in solving the issues raised and I would like to thank the Polish and Danish Presidency for their work on this.

I would like to stress that the amendments envisaged preserve the overall architecture and balance of the draft accession agreement. The Commission, as the EU negotiator, will base itself on the orientations suggested by the special committee when negotiating the amendments to the draft agreement with the non-EU states of the Council of Europe.

 
  
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  Kinga Gál, a PPE képviselőcsoport nevében. – Tisztelt Elnök Asszony! Miniszter Úr! Biztos Úr! Kedves Képviselőtársaim! Üdvözlöm a Tanács és a Bizottság által kifejtett álláspontot, amelyből az derül ki, hogy az emberi jogi egyezményhez való uniós csatlakozás, illetve az arról szóló szerződés szövege olyan irányba halad, hogy az hozzáadott értéket jelentsen majd az európai polgárok számára, hiszen ezt kérte a tárgyalások megkezdése előtt a jelentésem is a Bel- és Igazságügyi Bizottság részéről, amely jelentés számos eleme tükröződik a szerződésben. Külön meg kell köszönnöm a Bizottságnak azt, hogy rendszeresen tájékoztatta a képviselőket a tárgyalások állásáról és kifejthettük a véleményünket, az észrevételeinket megtehettük.

A hozzáadott érték, a hatékony jogérvényesítés szempontjait érvényesíteni kell a szükséges kompromisszumok meghozatala során is. Ugyanakkor nem ajánlom az európai polgárok körében a túlzott elvárások gerjesztését sem. Nagyon fontos a pontos információ, hogy miről is szól majd ez a csatlakozás, hiszen ha nem, akkor az szintén az uniós intézményekbe vetett bizalmat kezdené ki. A csatlakozási szerződéssel kapcsolatos kompromisszumkeresés közben azért ne feledkezzünk meg az érem másik oldaláról, a kezdetektől hangsúlyozott Strasbourgi Bírósági reformról, és annak szükségességéről. Én bízom benne, hogy a tegnap megkezdődött brightoni konferencia olyan válaszokat fog adni a felmerülő problémás kérdésekre e reformot illetően, ami megnyugtató lehet minden fél számára.

A csatlakozás csakis akkor lehet sikeres, ha valóban erősíti az eddig is működő európai intézményeket, illetve a tagállami igazságszolgáltatási rendszereket, mindazon létező eszközt is, amelyekkel a polgárok jogainak érvényesítését segítik elő, nem csak elviekben, de a mindennapi gyakorlatban egyaránt, és egy ilyen eszköznek látjuk ezt a szerződést.

 
  
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  Enrique Guerrero Salom, en nombre del Grupo S&D. – Señora Presidenta, señor Ministro, señor Comisario, tengo que empezar mi intervención expresando dos agradecimientos: un agradecimiento a la Comisión, que acaba de reconocer que ha negociado o se ha basado en un informe aprobado por este Parlamento, agradecimiento que hago extenso al señor Kremer, que ha presentado siempre ante la Comisión de Asuntos Constitucionales el estado de la situación en que se encontraba la negociación, y un agradecimiento al Consejo por el hecho de que haya puesto interés en este tema y lo lleve a la próxima reunión del Consejo la semana próxima.

A partir de este agradecimiento doble, tengo que plantear las siguientes preguntas: ¿Por qué estamos debatiendo este asunto ahora en el Parlamento? ¿Por qué lo hemos incluido en el orden del día? Porque estamos profundamente preocupados por la situación de bloqueo en que se encuentra en el seno del Consejo.

Este es un acuerdo que beneficia a los ciudadanos europeos, a los que les otorgará, cuando se apruebe, un grado de protección de sus derechos mayor que el que en estos momentos les garantiza la propia Unión, y son los ciudadanos europeos los que se están viendo limitados en la defensa de sus derechos porque el proceso no avanza en el seno del Consejo.

Ha habido muchas negociaciones entre la Comisión y el Consejo, y se han desbloqueado los temas fundamentales. Quedan dos, como ha señalado el Presidente del Consejo: el asunto relativo a la política exterior y también el otro asunto al que se ha referido sobre la eficacia de la posición común de los miembros de la Unión Europea en las decisiones del convenio.

Pero afrontemos los problemas con ánimo de resolverlos; no los utilicemos como instrumento de bloqueo para que no avance el proceso. Hace ya más de dos años que se aprobó el Tratado de Lisboa y va siendo hora de que también se aplique en este punto.

 
  
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  Renate Weber, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Madam President, colleagues, I am glad we are having this debate today. I am hoping for an open and public debate on the EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights and on the so-called reform of the European Court of Human Rights, as the two issues are closely connected.

Regarding the EU’s accession to the European Convention, today we are in a situation of being in violation of the Treaties, particularly of Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union, which makes accession binding. The file is stuck in the Council due to the objections of the UK Government and partially of the French Government.

Concerning the so-called reform of the European Court of Human Rights, the UK Chairmanship of the Council of Europe is now – as we speak – holding a conference in Brighton, where several proposals are being discussed. I cannot stress enough how worried the European Court of Human Rights, the NGOs and human rights defenders are about some of these proposals. If accepted, these counter-reforms would severely diminish the rights of the victims of human rights violations.

More than 60 MEPs have signed an appeal on these issues, which I have promoted in the European Parliament, and many national MPs have done the same.

Let me also express concern about the fact that these two issues are being dealt with without any transparency. The Council examines session documents that are not accessible to the public and do not even appear on the registers. This is a violation of the Regulation on Access to Documents.

The Brighton Conference drafts are accessible only because of leaks. Neither the public nor NGOs have been consulted. This is not the way we should deal with fundamental rights issues in Europe. I think it is time for the Commission and the Council to make this clear to all Member States.

I appeal to the UK Government to change its position and to let the EU apply the Lisbon Treaty obligations, and I trust that my colleagues here will do their utmost to ensure that this happens.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR), blue-card question. – Madam President, why should the British public, or the French public for that matter, have any faith in a court which has judges from countries like Russia (witness the Khodorkovsky case) who are clearly not independent, and countries like Ukraine (witness the Tymoshenko case), where the judiciary is clearly not independent? Some of these judges have no judicial training – they are political appointees. Why should these foreign, unelected and unaccountable judges be able to decide on matters of our own national security and our criminal justice system in the United Kingdom? I am afraid there is no confidence in the integrity of this Court. It needs to be reformed and its powers need to be reined in. I am very sorry, but that is the feeling of most of my constituents.

 
  
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  Weber, Renate (ALDE), blue-card answer. – Madam President, I think that my colleague is actually making a mistake and confusing the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg with the national courts in Russia, in Ukraine and in the other countries.

I think there is a huge difference between the two. If someone knows how the European Court of Human Rights functions, they understand that there is always the possibility of having the right decision. So far the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, which was literally applied also by the Luxembourg Court of Justice, has proved that it was a very good court with very sound decisions.

 
  
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  Barbara Lochbihler, im Namen der Verts/ALE-Fraktion. – Frau Präsidentin, sehr geehrter Herr Minister Bødskov, sehr geehrter Herr Kommissar Kallas! In Brighton wird diese Woche über die Zukunft des Europäischen Menschenrechtsgerichtshofs debattiert und entschieden. Zweifellos stärken einige der geplanten Reformen das europäische Menschenrechtssystem. So wäre es zu begrüßen, wenn diejenigen Staaten, die die Straßburger Urteile nicht umsetzen, künftig konsequenter bestraft würden. Die im Entwurf der „Brighton Declarations“ skizzierten Fortschritte können aber nicht darüber hinwegtäuschen, dass Großbritannien seinen Vorsitz im Europarat zu nutzen versucht, um den Einfluss des Gerichts massiv zu schwächen.

Wenn – wie geplant – nationale Gerichtshöfe einen größeren Ermessensspielraum bei der Interpretation der europäischen Menschenrechtskonvention erhalten, droht dies die Rechtsprechung aufzuweichen. Innerhalb Europas könnten sich unterschiedliche Menschenrechtsstandards durchsetzen. Zudem zielen die geplanten Reformen augenscheinlich darauf ab, den Bürgerinnen und Bürgern weniger Möglichkeiten an die Hand zu geben, individuell bei den europäischen Richtern zu klagen.

Die Mitgliedstaaten sind daher aufgerufen, sich entschieden gegen diese versuchte Schwächung zu stellen, die auch eine Schwächung des gesamten Menschenrechtssystems bedeuten würde. Außerdem hat sich die Europäische Union mit dem Vertrag von Lissabon verpflichtet, der EMRK beizutreten. Herr Minister Bødskov hat darauf hingewiesen, dass das Parlament bereits vor zwei Jahren gefordert hat, dies auch umzusetzen, und deshalb ist es höchste Zeit, sich ganz entschieden an diese Arbeit zu machen.

 
  
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  Ashley Fox, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Madam President, I am proud that the United Kingdom was one of the founding members of the European Convention of Human Rights. This was designed to protect fundamental human rights – the right to life, the right not to be tortured and the right to a fair trial. The Convention has noble aims and my group supports them, but we do not support the conduct of the European Court of Human Rights. Far too often the Court departs from its role of upholding fundamental rights and interferes with how democratic governments govern themselves. The recent decision to prevent the UK deporting Abu Qatada is one example. The demand of the Court that prisoners be given the right to vote is another.

Such judicial activism brings the Court into disrepute. It must be reformed, with most cases dealt with at national level and national courts given a greater margin of appreciation for making decisions.

My group is committed to protecting human rights, but we do not believe that the EU should sign the Convention. Given that every Member State is already a signatory to the Convention, what benefit is there in the EU signing as well? It seems to me that the chief beneficiary is the EU itself, which gets to use its new legal identity granted by the Treaty of Lisbon.

This is an opportunity for the EU to strut on the world stage and make very little difference to human rights – and what difference it does make will be negative. We will have two courts adjudicating within the EU, introducing competing jurisdictions which will only complicate matters. It also raises the issue of the EU itself having a role in any future reform of the Court of Human Rights. Involving the EU is a recipe for ensuring that no further reforms ever take place. I would urge colleagues here, and in Westminster, to think again before granting the EU more influence that we will live to regret.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Andrew Duff (ALDE), blue-card question. – Madam President, I wonder if Mr Fox would recall that the accession of the Union to the ECHR is a formal provision of the Treaty of Lisbon? The clause does not permit any discretion in this issue. It says that the Union shall accede to the ECHR.

Does he now wish to put the Union, and especially the United Kingdom, in breach of the Treaty of Lisbon?

 
  
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  Ashley Fox (ECR), blue-card answer. – Madam President, I would remind Mr Duff that the Treaty of Lisbon was ratified without a referendum in the United Kingdom – as was promised by the Prime Minister Gordon Brown – and therefore my position is that we should seek to amend the Treaty so that this obligation no longer exists.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Nicole Sinclaire (NI), blue-card question. – Madam President, my colleague Mr Fox alluded to the fact that there are already 27 signatories to the Convention and that this would just be a pruning exercise – or rather a preening exercise – by the European Union. Would he not agree with me that this is a further stage of federalisation and that in the 2010 Conservative manifesto it was stated that it would repeal the Human Rights Act, which was brought in by the Labour Party?

Now, if this was actually signed, it would mean that they would not have the power to do so. Is this not another massive transference of sovereignty that his party will allow to happen?

 
  
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  Ashley Fox (ECR), blue-card answer. – Madam President, I am fully aware of the commitment given in the Conservative Party manifesto. Regrettably we did not win the general election. We are part of a coalition and this is a policy of the coalition government of which the European Conservatives and the British Conservatives do not approve.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Sarah Ludford (ALDE), blue-card question. – Madam President, painful as it is to have family disagreements in public, will Mr Fox recognise that in the briefing distributed yesterday to UK MEPs it was said that the UK Government – and of course that is led by your prime minister Mr Cameron – is fully committed to EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights? The benefits of such accession are that it will close the gap in human rights protection in the EU, as applicants will for the first time be able to bring a complaint before the Strasbourg court directly against the EU for alleged violation of Convention rights (which you should applaud), enable the EU to defend itself directly before the Strasbourg court, create legal certainty, and so on.

So are you telling us that you refute the view of a Conservative-led government?

 
  
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  Ashley Fox (ECR), blue-card answer. – Madam President, I did not distribute any briefing yesterday. That was the briefing of the British Permanent Representative; they do not speak for me and they do not speak for my group – they speak for the coalition government. We are a Conservative party and we have a different policy on this issue which we believe is far more in tune with the British people.

 
  
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  Gerard Batten, on behalf of the EFD Group. – Madam President, last year I wrote to David Cameron urging him to oppose the EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights. The coalition government replied that they were obligated to accede to it and that in any case it would not change the existing situation regarding the UK.

EU accession to the ECHR is required under Article 6(2) of the Lisbon Treaty. Mr Cameron could have given the decision to the British people by honouring his promise, indeed his cast-iron guarantee, of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

He reneged on that promise after the Labour Government had ratified the Treaty. But treaties are ratified by acts of parliament, and any act can be repealed. If he had wanted to, he could have repealed the ratification act and then submitted Lisbon to a referendum of the people. Instead he betrayed his promise and his guarantee turned out to be worthless.

Now the government tells us not to worry anyway, because it makes no difference. But this is not true either. Britain could not opt out of or reform the Convention even if it wanted to, because we are bound by the Lisbon Treaty. As usual the Tories betrayed Britain. Now they are in denial about the consequences of that betrayal. They had a solution and they did not use it.

Now the only solution is the one advocated by the UK Independence Party, which is for Britain to leave the European Union.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Jörg Leichtfried (S&D), Frage nach dem Verfahren der blauen Karte. – Frau Präsidentin! Ich wollte mich jetzt einmal einmischen, damit das nicht eine rein britische Diskussion wird. Herr Batten, ich mache mir langsam Sorgen. Ich muss das ehrlich sagen. Aus Ihren früheren Wortmeldungen weiß ich, dass Sie Großbritannien nicht in der Europäischen Union haben wollten. Jetzt habe ich gehört, Sie wollen Großbritannien auch nicht bei der Europäischen Menschenrechtskonvention haben. Wenn Sie etwas nachdenken, wollen Sie Großbritannien in Zukunft dann vielleicht auch nicht in der UNO haben. Glauben Sie nicht, dass es langsam – wenn Sie sich durchsetzen würden – sehr einsam um Großbritannien würde und dass das Großbritannien insgesamt ganz massiv schaden würde? Das glaube ich nämlich!

 
  
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  Gerard Batten (EFD), blue-card answer. – Madam President, I have never advocated that Britain should leave the United Nations, which is a properly-constituted international body.

It has always been my view, and it has been the policy of my party, that Britain should leave the European Convention on Human Rights and that we should repeal the Human Rights Act 1998. So I think I and my party have been entirely consistent in that.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat, au nom du groupe GUE/NGL. – Madame la Présidente, nous sommes quelques-uns dans cet hémicycle à considérer que les droits de l'homme sont des valeurs fondamentales non seulement pour l'Union européenne et ses citoyens mais pour l'ensemble de l'humanité.

La CEDH, comme la Déclaration universelle des droits de l'homme, sont nées des horreurs de la deuxième guerre mondiale pour protéger les citoyens, y compris contre la dérive des États et de leurs gouvernements. Les pays de l'Europe occidentale ont été particulièrement touchés. Ils ont longtemps été pionniers en la matière.

Or, depuis quelques années, notamment depuis les attentats du 11 septembre 2001, le respect des droits de l'homme dans ces pays régresse. Les arrêts de la Cour européenne des droits de l'homme sont là pour le montrer. Un nombre croissant d'États membres sont de plus en plus régulièrement condamnés.

L'adhésion de l'Union européenne à la CEDH est dès lors un symbole et nous voyons bien que pour un certain nombre d'États membres, l'article 6 du traité n'était qu'un chiffon de papier. Il y a les débats sur ce qui relève du droit européen et ce qui relève des droits nationaux et il y a la question de la compatibilité entre la Charte européenne des droits fondamentaux et la CEDH, certains États membres cherchant à réintroduire les réserves qu'ils ont mises dans la Charte dans les débats sur l'adhésion à la CEDH, alors que tous les États membres sont parties à la Convention. Donc où est le problème?

Il y a ceux qui disent que l'adhésion de l'Union européenne ne doit pas mettre en cause les compétences de la CJUE. Pour avoir participé à de nombreuses rencontres avec les juges de cette cour, je ne vois pas non plus où est le problème. La CJUE intègre les droits fondamentaux dans sa jurisprudence depuis 1970. L'intégration de la Charte des droits fondamentaux dans le traité, comme l'adhésion à la CEDH, vont l'aider à mieux faire respecter les droits fondamentaux.

D'autres encore s'inquiètent des compétences de la CEDH au-delà du territoire de l'Union européenne. Mais c'est sa nature et j'oserais dire que c'est au moment de l'intégration de l'article 6 qu'il fallait poser ces questions. En réalité, le problème est que certains États membres cherchent à mettre en cause le contenu même de la CEDH et le rôle de la Cour européenne et, pour cela, ils sont prêts à tout.

Sur ces bancs, nous sommes un certain nombre qui défendons une conception universelle et indivisible des droits de l'homme. Nous refusons le "deux poids, deux mesures" en matière de droits de l'homme. Nous pensons que pour être crédibles dans les combats qu'ils prétendent mener au niveau international en faveur des droits de l'homme, l'Union européenne et ses États membres doivent commencer par balayer devant leur porte.

Oui, l'adhésion de l'Union européenne à la CEDH est un symbole et toutes les tergiversations actuelles sont symptomatiques des dérives de certains États membres en ce domaine. Ces États membres qui n'ont de cesse de s'affranchir de leurs obligations en matière de droits de l'homme. Ce n'est pas la Cour qui a évolué, contrairement à ce que j'ai entendu, c'est le respect des droits fondamentaux par les États membres.

Depuis bientôt deux ans, on nous parle d'adhésion rapide. Il est temps de passer aux actes.

 
  
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  Nicole Sinclaire (NI). - Madam President, as a MEP I deal with constituency issues on a daily basis: issues where EU law affects people’s daily lives, either directly or indirectly.

I am here to tell you that there is one deeply flawed law that, above all others, damages British life and puts our lives in daily peril. It is the Human Rights Act. It is a rotten law that Britain loathes.

Human rights are worth protecting, and I am vocal in the protection of human rights. The Human Rights Act, however, was created in Britain by the Labour Party, which, despite warnings, was reckless as to the consequences.

However, this EU-backed – and soon to be enshrined – law is now routinely and regularly abused by those who can cause havoc in civil society. Terrorists, criminals and illegal immigrants, with and without cats.

More often than not, judges who apply human rights law decide that those rights trump those of the majority: decent, honest, hard-working British people. The case of Abu Qatada is attracting media attention. The human rights law, by allowing Abu Qatada to dodge deportation to Jordan, has inflamed the British public. Simply, the Court of Human Rights leaves Britain unable to defend its interests.

In a recent survey, 75% of British people said they think that the act should be scrapped altogether. It is the Lisbon Treaty that allows the EU to sign up to the ECHR, which further imprisons the British public, who never got a chance to say no through a referendum.

Let me tell you, the British public are shouting aloud: ‘No to the human rights law! Release us from these shackles’.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Michael Cashman (S&D), blue-card question. – Madam President, would Ms Sinclaire take a correction? Sadly the British Labour Party did not invent human rights. They introduced the Human Rights Act, which gave the British public the right for British courts to intervene in these matters. Would she agree with me that, if the UK took her line and withdrew from the European Union, the rest of Europe would breathe a sigh of relief?

 
  
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  Nicole Sinclaire (NI), blue-card answer. – Madam President, not as big a sigh of relief as the British public would! Yes, Mr Cashman, I agree with you. The Convention on Human Rights was actually written by British lawyers in the early 1950s. It was the Labour Party that signed the Human Rights Act, which enshrined it in British law. That was in 1998.

What it actually did was to empower every court, from the most minute up to the Supreme Court (no longer the House of Lords), to apply these human rights, and the judges have taken political jurisprudence. They have not gone along with the public or the elected government. That has to be wrong. In a democracy it should be the will of the people that reigns supreme.

If you talk about human rights, Mr Cashman, I want to point out one Labour politician, our High Representative Catherine Ashton – a Labour Party card-carrying member – who refused to do anything about the corrective rape of lesbians in Palestine. That is a disgrace.

 
  
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  Carlo Casini (PPE). - Signora Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, l'articolo 6 va attuato, e va attuato presto, perché è un obbligo giuridico che ci è imposto. La commissione che ho l'onore di presiedere ha lavorato celermente – ringrazio l'onorevole Guerrero Salom e ringrazio i colleghi che hanno lavorato – è stato istituito anche un gruppo di contatto fra l'Assemblea parlamentare del Consiglio d'Europa e il Parlamento europeo, credo che questo contatto dovrà essere ancora ripreso, l'invito al Signor ministro e al Signor Commissario è ormai quello di accelerare i tempi e concludere.

Non nascondo i problemi, che non sono di ordine strutturale, li abbiamo già risolti tutti quelli di ordine strutturale si può dire, ci sono certamente problemi di carattere sostanziale e procedurale, ma non possono essere risolti se non attraverso la pratica, una volta che l'Unione avrà aderito alla convenzione.

Dal punto di vista sostanziale c'è un fenomeno particolare. Che io sappia, è l'unico caso al mondo in cui una dichiarazione, un atto giuridicamente vincolante sui diritti dell'uomo si inserisce all'interno di un contesto territoriale in cui c'è un altro atto giuridico, che è la Convenzione del Consiglio d'Europa, all'interno della quale vi è la Carta dei diritti fondamentali dell'Unione europea. Questo pone qualche problema, certamente, oltretutto di carattere procedurale, perché chi avrà l'ultima parola?

Questo è il grande problema, ma non lo possiamo risolvere ora. Intanto aderiamo, la soluzione verrà fuori dalla giurisprudenza, probabilmente sfruttando il principio che la Corte europea dei diritti dell'uomo esige, prima di essere adita dagli interessati, che tutti gli altri strumenti di ricorso siano stati attuati. In questo senso la Corte europea dei diritti dell'uomo potrebbe essere l'ultima istanza, anche dopo la Corte di giustizia.

(L'oratore accetta di rispondere a una domanda "cartellino blu" (articolo 149, paragrafo 8 del regolamento)).

 
  
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  Jo Leinen (S&D), Frage nach dem Verfahren der blauen Karte. – Herr Kollege Casini, würden Sie mir zustimmen, dass die EU, wenn sie dem Menschenrechtsgerichtshof beitritt, sich dann auch für eine bessere Ausstattung des Gerichtshofs in Straßburg einsetzen muss? Wir wissen, dass die Richter völlig überlastet sind und schlechter ausgestattet sind als die Richter in Luxemburg. Die EU sollte – und da frage ich Sie, ob Sie zustimmen – dafür sorgen, dass sie die gleichen Arbeitsbedingungen, die gleichen Standards, die gleiche Ausstattung haben, denn dann können wir auch auf gute Urteile hoffen. Würden Sie sich dafür einsetzen, dass das Parlament und die EU eine bessere Ausstattung des Gerichtshofs in Straßburg unterstützen?

 
  
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  Carlo Casini (PPE), Risposta a una domanda "cartellino blu". – Signora Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, credo di essere d'accordo, non sono in opposizione con quello che ha detto l'onorevole Jo Leinen. Nella misura in cui abbiamo la competenza per poterlo fare e per poterlo proporre, credo che la mia commissione debba tenere conto di questa istanza.

 
  
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  Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D). - Señora Presidenta, si este debate está teniendo lugar es porque estamos ante un doble mandato. Para empezar, un mandato del Tratado de la Unión Europea —según el Tratado de Lisboa— no es una sugerencia. ¡No! Señala un mandato de conclusión de la incorporación de la Unión Europea al Convenio Europeo de Derechos Humanos. Pero también estamos ante un mandato de negociación que vincula a la Comisión, para que haga realidad la ejecución de ese mandato.

Las razones son muy buenas, y es que el Convenio Europeo de Derechos Humanos, tal y como ha sido interpretado por el Tribunal Europeo de Derechos Humanos que lo garantiza, ha contribuido de manera sustantiva a una cultura jurídica de alcance europeo que ha mejorado la vida de los millones de europeos que han visto satisfechas sus demandas ante el Tribunal Europeo de Derechos Humanos, cuando habían agotado las instancias judiciales que les garantizaban los derechos fundamentales de sus propios ordenamientos internos.

Somos conscientes de que esto plantea dificultades. Llevamos mucho tiempo de negociación ya. Va siendo hora de que ejecutemos ese mandato y lo llevemos a cumplimiento.

El Tribunal Europeo de Derechos Humanos de Estrasburgo y el Tribunal de Justicia de la Unión Europea en Luxemburgo deberán dialogar y esto, sin duda ninguna, será una cuestión compleja. Pero, lo que está claro es que esto enriquece la protección jurídica de los derechos de ciudadanía de los ciudadanos europeos y que, por tanto, es el momento en que la Comisión debe emplearse a fondo para resolver, con el Consejo, los obstáculos que continúan interponiendo algunos Estados miembros, para que los ciudadanos europeos vean finalmente satisfecho este mandato que está en el Tratado de Lisboa.

No existe ni un solo país que no haya visto mejorada la atención a los derechos humanos garantizados por el Convenio como consecuencia de la jurisprudencia del Tribunal Europeo de Derechos Humanos y, en la medida en que haya una injusticia que haya podido ser reparada por la jurisprudencia del Tribunal Europeo de Derechos Humanos, hay que concluir que el mandato tiene pleno sentido y ya va siendo hora de que lo llevemos a cumplimiento.

 
  
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  Andrew Duff (ALDE). - Madam President, the Union’s accession to the ECHR was the quid pro quo for the decision to make the Charter of Fundamental Rights binding. It now falls on all 27 Member States to bring that agreement to a successful conclusion – not least Britain, which used to be the pioneer and the advocate of fundamental rights but unfortunately now seems to be suffering from acute withdrawal symptoms.

The British are specifically demanding unanimity for Council decisions concerning the ECHR post-accession. This distorts the logic of the Treaty of Lisbon and weakens the role of the Commission in representing the Union inside the Committee of Ministers. Could I remind the Presidency of the Council that this Parliament must also grant its consent to the final agreement? I can assure you from the ALDE Group that if we are not entirely satisfied that the internal rules follow the logic of Lisbon, it is extremely improbable that we will be inclined to grant our consent.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR), blue-card question. – Madam President, would Mr Duff accept that the Treaty of Lisbon was objected to by the Conservative Party in opposition? We inherited it in a coalition government with your party, Mr Duff. We do not particularly like a lot of its content and therefore politics is the art of the possible. If we can find ways of obstructing certain dislikeable bits of it, why can we not do that?

It is perfectly obvious that there are other parts of the Treaties which other countries do not implement when they feel it is in their national interest. I think of the euro for instance. Sweden is obliged to join the euro; it has never done so. It has always maintained its right to stay out politically even though not juridically.

Surely, as a British citizen, you would respect the right of the British Prime Minister to use all legal instruments available within the Council to delay the day for as long as possible, given the fact that the European Court of Human Rights is deeply unpopular now in the United Kingdom?

 
  
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  Andrew Duff (ALDE), blue-card answer. – Madam President, I cannot speak on behalf of the Conservative Party, but I am astonished that such a party – the party of Winston Churchill – now seeks to block binding the Union to the provisions of the European Convention of Strasbourg. That seems to me to be completely flying in the face of Conservative Party history and indeed ideology.

I would like to ask Mr Tannock and his colleagues: why are you so frightened of UKIP that you are playing to the right-wing gallery?

 
  
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  Jean Lambert (Verts/ALE). - Madam President, I think that some of this debate is profoundly depressing when we are talking about how to keep the European Union out of human rights provisions. This is about accession to the European Convention, the European Court, rights for all within the European Union. It closes the gap which is there at the moment and which leaves EU legislation and actions outside the European Court of Human Rights. So the purpose of the Convention, the purpose of the Court, is that it requires governments to meet certain standards – just as many of us want it to require the EU to meet certain standards and to call governments and other authorities to account.

Now there may be judgments from the European Court that we do not like. There are some that I am not too happy about. But the whole point is that it is not a pick-and-mix. You do not simply take those judgments that you like and put them into practice, while with others you simply say: I did not like the judges who made that. If you do not like the judges, argue for the reform and training of the judges, and then when you are making those arguments, also remember that a lot of court findings are against countries such as Russia and Ukraine, the very places we have heard complaints about.

This is about the rule of law, within a human rights context; about how governments and other authorities respond to being held to account. That is something I want to see brought in for the European Union, not left outside.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  William (The Earl of) Dartmouth (EFD), blue-card question. – You talk about pick-and-mix. Do you accept the European Court of Human Rights offers no defence for British citizens being carted off by means of the European Arrest Warrant to the very harsh judicial and prison systems of the former Communist states in Eastern Europe? Do you accept that the European Court of Human Rights offers no defence to that at all?

 
  
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  Jean Lambert (Verts/ALE), blue-card answer. – Maybe this would be an argument for actually having the European Union within the European Court of Human Rights framework? Then you could actually bring those cases there, could you not?

 
  
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  Tomasz Piotr Poręba (ECR). - Pani Przewodnicząca! Myślę, że na tej sali nie ma nikogo, kto uznałby, że Unia Europejska nie powinna wspierać ochrony praw człowieka, jednakże w przypadku przystąpienia Unii do konwencji mamy – i mam osobiście – pewne wątpliwości co do sensowności takiego posunięcia, takiego kroku.

Po pierwsze, chciałbym się dowiedzieć, jakie są gwarancje, że nie spowoduje to zwiększenia swoistej konkurencji między obydwoma trybunałami. Już teraz pomiędzy Strasburgiem i Luksemburgiem są spory kompetencyjne, co powoduje pewne utrudnienia.

Inną ważną kwestią jest skala finansowego wsparcia, jakiego Unia udzieli Europejskiemu Trybunałowi Praw Człowieka. Należy też pamiętać o tym, że każde państwo członkowskie Unii Europejskiej podpisało już konwencję. Jaka zatem będzie wartość dodana przystąpienia do niej całej Unii Europejskiej? Jaki to będzie miało wpływ na wewnętrzny system prawny każdego z państw unijnych? Mam niestety wrażenie, że jedynym celem, jaki przyświeca temu pomysłowi, jest podkreślenie statusu Unii Europejskiej jako ważnego gracza na arenie międzynarodowej.

 
  
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  Philip Claeys (NI). - Ik denk dat het heel belangrijk is dat wij ons er bij de toetreding van de Europese Unie tot het Europees Verdrag voor de rechten van de mens van bewust zijn dat er zich een aantal problemen zullen voordoen, wanneer wij steeds meer een aantal bevoegdheden, een aantal vrijheden van de lidstaten zullen overdragen aan het Europees Hof voor de Rechten van de Mens in Straatsburg.

Steeds vaker doet zich het probleem voor dat er zaken die volledig zijn beslist, die een volledige rechtsgang hebben gekend in een lidstaat, door een beroep terechtkomen bij het Europees Hof voor de Rechten van de Mens, hetgeen dus eigenlijk neerkomt op een soort gouvernement de juges, van een aantal rechters die aan niemand verantwoording schuldig zijn en die zich radicaal keren tegen het beleid dat op een democratische manier in de lidstaten is uitgestippeld en waardoor men dus een strenger restrictief immigratiebeleid onmogelijk wordt gemaakt. Zelfs een strijd tegen het terrorisme wordt meer en meer gecompromitteerd door de houding van deze rechters. Ik verwijs in dit verband naar het geval Aboe Katada in Engeland; daaraan moet paal en perk worden gesteld en dit moet door het Europees Parlement op de voet worden gevolgd.

 
  
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  Roberto Gualtieri (S&D). - Signora Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, mi unisco ai ringraziamenti alla Commissione e alla Presidenza del Consiglio, ma questo dibattito è opportuno e importante soprattutto perché siamo di fronte a due inaccettabili violazioni della lettera e dello spirito del trattato di Lisbona.

La violazione della lettera, come è già stato ricordato da molti oratori, riguarda il boicottaggio dell'adesione dell'Unione europea alla Convenzione europea per la salvaguardia dei diritti dell'uomo, che è chiaramente stabilita dal trattato di Lisbona e che costituisce un complemento essenziale all'adozione della Carta dei diritti fondamentali. La violazione dello spirito del trattato riguarda invece il progetto attualmente in discussione a Brighton di emendare la Convenzione, riducendo in misura inaccettabile le possibilità di appello dei cittadini.

Si tratta di proposte davvero paradossali, non solo perché il protocollo 14 ha già riformato significativamente le procedure della Corte, ma anche perché, più in generale, risolvere il problema dei troppi casi pendenti riducendo le possibilità di ricorso è come combattere un'epidemia chiudendo le porte degli ospedali.

Il problema non sono i troppi ricorsi, il problema sono le troppe violazioni dei diritti in Europa ed è di questo che dovrebbero occuparsi i governi. Il Parlamento europeo è quindi molto preoccupato e molto vigile e ritiene assolutamente importante una reazione che impedisca questo tipo di riforme che sono in discussione a Brighton.

 
  
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  Sarah Ludford (ALDE). - Madam President, I have already affirmed the full commitment of the UK Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government to EU accession to the Convention. I certainly speak for all Liberal Democrat ministers, parliamentarians and members. I think I have sufficiently refuted the suggestion by British Labour MEP Richard Howitt, whom I see in his place, in a debate two days ago that LibDems were somehow apologists for Tory hostility to the Strasbourg Convention and Court. But before I leave the intra-British debate, for which I apologise to other colleagues, I must remind Labour MEPs that their former Justice Secretary Jack Straw utterly failed to stand up for human rights, and once called the Human Rights Act a ‘villain’s charter’ in remarkably similar terms to Ms Sinclaire, whom Mr Cashman rightly criticised.

I also want to express complete British LibDem support for strengthening the European Court of Human Rights. The Brighton Conference currently taking place – and I share Renate Weber’s dismay at the lack of transparency – must enhance the ability of the Court to issue robust and authoritative judgments. But the Court does need streamlining and relieving of its huge backlog. National courts must do the heavy lifting of implementation of the Convention, and that is why the Convention needs to be incorporated and remain incorporated in domestic law, as in the UK Human Rights Act.

The Strasbourg Court must not be a routine court of appeal, but an effective and respected watchdog for 47 states and the EU. I hope and trust that will be the result of the Brighton Conference tomorrow.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Gerard Batten (EFD), blue-card question. – We come from completely opposite views on this and I do not think we are ever going to agree, but I have come across a curious anomaly which I would like your view on. The European Convention on Human Rights has been used by people like Abu Hamza and terrorist suspects to prevent their extradition to countries like America on the basis that their human rights might be abused.

But I have sat in courts dealing with European Arrest Warrant cases, and one in particular where the European Convention was invoked because it was almost certain that, in being extradited to Greece, suspects would be held in the Korydallos Prison, where it was 100% guaranteed that their human rights were going to be violated. But the government prosecutor put the point that since Greece was a signatory of the Convention on Human Rights it could not be deemed to be in breach of it. The appeal court agreed and the suspects were extradited.

Is it not odd that foreign countries are covered by the European Convention on Human Rights but it does not seem to apply in European countries and does not offer the protection that we would give to people being extradited to the USA?

 
  
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  Sarah Ludford (ALDE), blue-card answer. – Madam President, the Human Rights Convention does apply to the European Arrest Warrant and it is implicit in it, but it is explicit in the UK implementation of the European Arrest Warrant.

Wearing my other hat, which I used to be able to do in the British Parliament, helped secure an amendment to the 2003 Extradition Act, which requires the judge, before agreeing to extradition under the European Arrest Warrant, to decide whether someone’s Convention rights would be breached. I do not know why that has never succeeded in a UK court but I was there to make sure that this law applies and I will go on insisting that human rights apply to internal EU extradition.

By the way, the Strasbourg court did not prevent the extradition of Abu Hamza to the United States. We can disagree on whether that was the right decision but in fact they did say he would get a fair trial, even if he would be subject to harsh conditions after conviction. The difference there would be after conviction, not pre-trial.

 
  
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  William (The Earl of) Dartmouth (EFD). - Madam President, first of all I must congratulate Baroness Ludford for making it very clear in her speech that the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives are fully committed to signing up to the European Convention on Human Rights. Indeed, the Liberal Democrats even want to enhance it, as the gracious lady said. So the conclusion is very clear: if Britain wants to get out of the European Convention of Human Rights, which I think we should, there is only one way and that is for the British people to vote and support UKIP.

Now what is this European Court of Human Rights? Well, Members of this House are rightly exercised about Ukraine, where the former leader of the opposition has been put in jail for seven years on what appear to be trumped-up charges and has even come to court again. The European Court of Human Rights has a judge on it representing Ukraine. It is a completely Mickey-Mouse, erratic court which does not belong anywhere in the British legal system and that is why we utterly reject it and those parties who support it.

 
  
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  Kinga Göncz (S&D). - Elnök Asszony! Felmerült az a kérdés, hogy mi a hozzáadott értéke annak, hogy ha az Unió csatlakozik az egyezményhez. Szeretném egyértelművé tenni, hogy ez új jogorvoslati lehetőséget jelent az európai polgárok számára, akik az Unió alapjogsértései esetén is panaszaikkal a strasbourgi bírósághoz fordulhatnak, tehát van hozzáadott érték. Illetve fordulhatnának akkor, hogy ha néhány tagország nem blokkolná ezt a csatlakozást. Ebben a vitában hallottuk, hogy mely országokról, elsődlegesen mely országról van szó. Ez ugyanúgy aggodalomra ad okot, ahogy a napokban zajló brightoni konferencia néhány javaslata is a strasbourgi bíróság reformjára vonatkozóan. Ilyen javaslat az új elfogadhatósági kritérium, azaz hogy a tagállami bíróság már megvizsgálta az ügyet, az nem lenne befogadható az Emberi Jogi Bíróságon. Súlyosan csökkentené az emberi jogok és a jogorvoslathoz való jog érvényesülését, különösen olyan államok polgárai számára, ahol nem tekinthető függetlennek az igazságszolgáltatási rendszer.

Szeretnénk biztosítva látni, hogy az Emberi Jogi Bíróság túlterheltsége nem az emberi jogok garanciájának kárára fog csökkenni. A túlterheltséggel mindannyian tisztában vagyunk, azonban a megoldást nem arra kell keresni, amerre a brightoni konferencia elindult. Reméljük, hogy nem ez lesz a végső döntés. Amit támogatni tudunk, az valóban az, ami itt szintén elhangzott ma, hogy forrásokat biztosítsunk megfelelő mértékben az Emberi Jogi Bíróság számára. Meg kell várni az utóbbi évek reformjainak a hatásait, javítani kell az emberi jogi egyezmény alkalmazását és a jogalkotás minőségét a tagállamokban. El kell érni, hogy az európai kormányok elkötelezetten hajtsák végre az Emberi Jogi Bíróság döntéseit. Ha mindez megtörténik, akkor egészen bizonyosan csökkenni fog a strasbourgi bíróság túlterheltsége, és továbbra is eleget tud tenni annak a szerepének, amelyet nagyon fontosnak tartunk.

 
  
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  Jaroslav Paška (EFD). - Prijatím Štokholmského programu Európska rada v decembri roku 2009 rozhodla o pristúpení Únie k Európskemu dohovoru o ochrane základných práv a slobôd. Pristúpením Európskej únie ako organizácie regionálneho zoskupenia podlieha osobitným podmienkam, ktoré sú iné ako podmienky definované pre pristúpenie štátov. Z dikcie Lisabonskej zmluvy vyplýva, že právne akty Únie pôsobia svojimi účinkami na jednotlivcov len prostredníctvom vykonávajúcich alebo aplikačných vnútroštátnych opatrení. Pristúpením Únie k dohovoru by bolo preto potrebné preniesť špecifickú charakteristiku súdneho systému Únie do rámca zásad upravujúcich fungovanie kontrolných mechanizmov zavedených dohovorom, najmä zásadou subsidiarity. Vzhľadom na zložitosť a rozsah zmien vyplývajúcich z pristúpenia k dohovoru preto rešpektujem postoj tých štátov Únie, ktoré nepodliehajú populistickým tlakom na prílišné urýchľovanie tohto náročného procesu.

 
  
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  Michael Cashman (S&D). - Madam President, looking at the gallery, I think that they must have wondered what kind of circus they had stumbled into. The European Union is based solely on absolute fundamental universal human rights. Yes, the Court needs reform – nobody argues with that – but the way to reform it is by being engaged with it. In order to have coherence between national law and EU law, it is vital that the EU accedes to the European Convention on Human Rights. And of course, judges never deliver judgments which please politicians all of the time, and that is good. Because they are there to give a voice to people who are often trampled underfoot.

I want you to imagine that there are citizens living in one country of the European Union who are not allowed to serve in the military, who do not have a right to a family life, who have no succession of housing when their partner dies, whose very sexuality is criminalised, for whom there is not an equal age of consent, nor equal treatment. Their only recourse – those citizens living in the United Kingdom, those lesbians and gay men and bisexuals – was to the European Court of Human Rights, and because of their judgments, they were afforded – eventually – universality and respect for their human rights.

Now if a government does not agree with the judgments, it also has the opportunity to derogate from the judgment, for it to go back to the national parliament. That is exactly what happened when the judgment was given that the ban on prisoners being forbidden the right to vote was in contravention. The UK Parliament merely had to note that and continue with what it was doing. But you know what? The world is a better place if somewhere like the European Court of Human Rights makes the lives of politicians more difficult.

 
  
 

Procedura catch the eye

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE). - Lisabonská zmluva, ktorá nadobudla platnosť pre takmer dva a pol rokmi, sa stala výrazným medzníkom vo vývoji ochrany základných práv nielen v Európskej únii, ale aj v Európe. Lisabonská zmluva jasne ustanovila, že Európska únia pristúpi k Európskemu dohovoru o ľudských právach. Teší ma, že toto pristúpenie ešte viac posilní a prehĺbi ochranu základných ľudských práv a slobôd v Únii vďaka tomu, že Európsky súd pre ľudské práva v Štrasburgu nadobudne právomoc preskúmavať súlad aktov Únie s dohovorom. Rád by som preto vyjadril nádej, že sa podarí bez zbytočných prieťahov vyriešiť zostávajúce právne nejasnosti a členské štáty nájdu prijateľnú dohodu, aby mohla Európska únia čo najskôr pristúpiť k Európskemu dohovoru o ochrane základných práv a slobôd.

 
  
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  Richard Howitt (S&D). - Madam President, two days ago the British Liberal Democrat Party said that the UK was not obstructing the EU from ratifying the EU Convention on Human Rights and persuaded their party to vote against censuring David Cameron in the report I authored. Since then, a Conservative press release has been issued saying that ‘Prime Minister Cameron is absolutely right to block the EU accession’. We have also heard the official Tories’ so-called spokesperson on human rights state in this debate that they are obstructing, and a Conservative MP from the South-West has stated that the party did not endorse the position statement produced by its own Foreign Office officials.

Apologies should be made. Liberal Democrats should apologise for their vote and admit the truth, Conservatives should apologise to their own civil servants, and I do apologise. I apologise to the Council for my country’s shameful breaking of its Treaty obligations, and to all those who fought in the Second World War to create freedoms for our continent, freedoms which their children seem prepared to diminish.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE). - Señora Presidenta, después de este debate quiero expresar aquí mi preocupación por las demoras que está sufriendo la adhesión de la Unión Europea al Convenio Europeo para la Protección de los Derechos Humanos y de las Libertades Fundamentales y animar al Consejo y a la Comisión a que esta se produzca rápida y eficazmente.

Es importante porque, en primer lugar, estamos hablando de valores básicos de la Unión Europea y de una obligación legal que figura, como se ha dicho, en el Tratado de la Unión.

La crisis económica está poniendo en riesgo el modelo social europeo. Solo falta que también demos señales de debilidad en el ámbito de los derechos humanos, que es signo de identidad europea.

En el proceso estamos, además, a punto de empeorar niveles de protección de derechos que parecían claros y que se ven amenazados por el proceso de reforma del Tribunal Europeo de Derechos Humanos. Limitar el acceso de los ciudadanos al Tribunal Europeo es una mala noticia. Que ocurra por la actitud cicatera de algunos Estados me parece grave y preocupante, y que se haga de modo clandestino, una burla en el momento en que estamos celebrando la puesta en marcha de la iniciativa ciudadana europea.

Por ello, pregunto al Consejo y a la Comisión: ¿cuáles son los motivos reales por los que Francia y el Reino Unido están bloqueando este Acuerdo?

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). - Madam President, first of all, to Mr Howitt, I actually believed what he said in his initial draft report. If that is incorrect, his facts are wrong.

I have no inside knowledge of what my Prime Minister, or any other minister of the Conservative Party-led coalition, does in the Council.

To return to the subject, as we speak it is true that Ken Clark, our UK Justice Secretary, is indeed trying to convince 46 other ministerial colleagues in the Council of Europe to reform the intrusive powers of the European Court of Human Rights which, in my view, now seems far too often to champion the phoney human rights of the criminal or terrorist rather than protect the victims. This court is deeply unpopular and, in my view, brings the whole of the European Union into disrepute because, in the eyes of the Daily Mail readership, the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe are one and the same thing.

I have no faith in the judges of the court, some of whom, as political appointees, have no judicial training. Presumably the Russian judge, who was politically appointed, takes his instructions from the Kremlin.

Of course my party defends fundamental civil and political rights for all of our citizens, but the accession of the EU to the Convention and to the Court of Human Rights will result in competing jurisdictions between the European Court of Justice and the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights, cause extra costs and give extra powers to unelected and unaccountable judges. So I, like most Conservative MEPs, support the view that we should be doing everything we can to prevent this happening.

 
  
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  Andrew Henry William Brons (NI). - Madam President, both the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights provide that people have or should have freedom of expression. Proclamations about freedom of expression are a bit like the word democratic in the title of a state: it appears most prominently in the titles of states in which it is suppressed most obviously.

In several EU countries and signatories to the Convention, people can be and are jailed for heretical opinions on academic subjects and for political opinions that are disapproved of by the political class. Perhaps the worst example is in the country in which we are now: France. France only this year passed a law prescribing a description of the killing of Armenians in 1915, backed up by criminal penalties. Furthermore people have been prosecuted for the careless use of a word such as ‘debate’ to refer to a historical event. It really does not matter whether or not one dishonest document is judged by the standards of another dishonest document.

 
  
 

(Fine della procedura catch the eye)

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI). - Frau Präsidentin! Ich muss mich zu Wort melden, weil ich mit Ihrer Vorsitzführung nicht einverstanden bin. Sie geizen offensichtlich mit der Vergabe der catch the eye-Zeit, haben aber überhaupt kein Problem damit, sich während der Debatte nicht an die Usancen des Hauses zu halten.

Wir haben hier eine UK-Debatte gehabt, die hoch interessant ist. Es wurden zahlreiche blaue Karten vergeben, mehr als üblich. Sie lassen Leute über eine Minute reden, Sie lassen auch Antworten von über eine Minute zu. Das ist nicht korrekt. Ich bitte Sie, dies künftig zu unterlassen, damit sich auch die anderen Kollegen zu Wort melden können.

 
  
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  Presidente. − Io volentieri do la parola, ma ci sono più di venti persone che hanno chiesto la parola per il catch the eye. Comunque adesso per cortesia la parola al Commissario Kallas.

 
  
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  Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission. − Madam President, this was certainly a very interesting discussion of the issue of accession to the European Convention on Human Rights. I remember that this was a topical issue 15 years ago in my own country, where the European Convention on Human Rights was already regarded very positively as a means of improving the judiciary and the legal system.

By acceding to the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Union will integrate itself into a pan-European legal space of fundamental rights protection. It will enhance its credibility by entering into a commitment under international public law to respect fundamental rights. The EU will submit itself to external judicial control. So accession also means that the EU reaffirms the pivotal role played by the Convention system in the protection of human rights in Europe.

Much has already been done on the way to accession. But some important steps still remain. Negotiations with the 20 non-EU States of the Council of Europe must be completed. Once a final text has been agreed, the Commission will submit the draft agreement to the Court of Justice for an opinion on its compatibility with the Treaties. After a positive opinion, the Council will have to adopt – by unanimity – decisions on the signature and conclusion of the agreement. The latter decision requires the consent of the European Parliament and will only enter into force if Member States approve.

Regarding international law, the accession agreement has to be ratified by the 47 current state parties to the European Convention of Human Rights and approved by the Union. The EU legislature will also have to adopt internal legal rules to properly implement accession internally.

I am absolutely confident that the parties involved are fully aware that the governments and parliaments of all Member States made a promise to citizens, and gave a strong signal to the outside world, when they committed the Union to accede to the Convention. I can also add that the Commission agrees that it is necessary to work intensely on the internal rules from now on. Solutions must be workable in practice and respect the institutional order of the Union as defined by the Treaties.

 
  
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  Morten Bødskov, formand for Rådet. − Fru formand! Mange tak for muligheden for at overvære og deltage i debatten her i dag. Det har jo, kan man roligt sige, været en meget energifyldt debat, som kom meget vidt omkring, og bl.a. bidrog til interessante indblik i britisk indenrigspolitik. Det er jo gode indtryk, som jeg selvfølgelig tager med mig tilbage. Jeg vil gerne prøve at trække et par hovedindtryk fra debatten frem, som jeg vil tage med mig tilbage til Rådet. Det må nødvendigvis blive følgende:

Som sagt har jeg noteret mig, at EU's tiltrædelse af den europæiske menneskerettighedskonvention ligger Europa-Parlamentet meget på sinde. Det må man sige, at debatten i dag klart og utvetydigt har bekræftet. Det er en generel holdning, som jeg selvfølgelig som formand for Rådet har stor forståelse for, og vi har fra Rådets side både noteret os jeres bekymringer og jeres synspunkter. Jeg vil også gerne understrege, at jeg selvfølgelig deler synspunktet om, at vi er forpligtet til at få EU's tiltrædelse på plads, og at det skal ske hurtigst muligt. Derfor ser vi også frem til de politiske drøftelser på Rådets møde i næste uge. Med udgangspunkt i disse drøftelser er det vores forhåbning, at det vil være muligt at genoptage forhandlingerne med de øvrige Europarådslande i Strasbourg i den nærmeste fremtid.

Jeg vil dog gerne gentage, at vi under det danske formandskab fortsat vil arbejde for at sikre fremskridt i forhandlingerne om aftaleudkastet, og vi vil selvfølgelig i denne forbindelse gøre vores yderste for at nå en fælles EU-holdning til teksten. Denne tekst vil vi naturligvis gøre vores yderste for også lever op til Europa-Parlamentets forventninger.

 
  
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  Presidente. − La discussione è chiusa.

Dichiarazioni scritte (articolo 149)

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), în scris. Consider binevenită aderarea UE la „Convenţia Europeană a Drepturilor Omului” (ECHR), deoarece Uniunea trebuie să dispună de un sistem clar de protecţie a drepturilor fundamentale. Apreciez că ea va avea o contribuţie majoră la consolidarea regimului drepturilor omului în toată Europa, asigurând o protecţie sporită cetăţenilor, inclusiv în ceea ce priveşte legislaţia comunitară. Dezbaterea nu este una nouă, însă prevederile Tratatului de la Lisabona furnizează instrumentele juridice necesare realizării acestui proiect. Uniunea este fondată pe respectul drepturilor omului şi deţine deja o „Cartă a drepturilor fundamentale ”, însă, pentru a asigura promovarea şi protejarea deplină a acestora, este necesar şi un mecanism judiciar specializat. Curtea Europeană de Justiţie nu are atribuţii specifice pe această temă, în timp ce instanţa de la Strasbourg dispune de o practică îndelungată şi nuanţată în domeniu. Dacă până în momentul de faţă a existat o consultare informală care a asigurat coerenţa practicii celor două instanţe, această aderare va presupune o armonizare tehnică, atât în ceea ce priveşte statutul celor două curţi, cât şi detaliile cooperării jurisdicţionale. Ea va aduce beneficii importante şi statelor membre, aducând claritate juridică, evitând eventualele conflicte de jurisdicţie sau divergenţe de prevederi între ECHR şi legislaţia comunitară.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), raštu. – Iš tiesų, Europos Sąjungos vėlavimas prisijungti prie Europos Žmogaus teisių konvencijos kelia nerimą ir nuostabą. Ypač turint omenyje, kad visos šalys, tarp jų ir tos dvi valstybės narės, kurios priešinasi ES prisijungimui prie šios konvencijos, 2007 m. pritarė ir pasirašė Lisabonos sutartį, kurioje ir yra numatyta, kad Europos Sąjunga prie šios konvencijos prisijungs. Ypač neraminantis šio klausimo aspektas yra tai, kad būtent šios valstybės, kurios nepritaria arba siekia vilkinti ES prisijungimą prie Europos Žmogaus teisių konvencijos, siekia ir Europos Žmogaus Teisių Teismo reformos, dėl kurios būtų apribota piliečių galimybė tiesiogiai kreiptis į Teismą bei sumenkinta šio Teismo kompetencija ir galios. Europos Parlamentą jau dabar pasiekia sunerimusių piliečių laiškai, kuriems galimybė tiesiogiai kreiptis į Žmogaus Teisių Teismą ir valstybėms narėms privalomas šio Teismo sprendimų pobūdis, net ir mūsų demokratinėse XXI amžiaus Europos valstybėse, neretai yra paskutinė galimybė atkurti teisingumą savo atžvilgiu. Be abejo, reformas, kuriomis būtų pagreitintas bylų Žmogaus Teisių Teisme sprendimas, galime tik pasveikinti.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – The recent accession of the EU to the ECHR will mean that future negotiations of all Member States to opt out of the Convention could only be carried out by leaving the EU. The UK relationship with the ECHR has always been independent from our membership to the EU. The debate in Parliament was juxtaposed with negotiations at the Brighton Conference to reform the ECHR under the chairmanship of the UK. There is growing discontent that domestic sovereignty over controversial issues such as the deportation of known terrorists and the lawfulness of banning convicted criminals from voting is undermined by unelected judges in the ECHR who are not accountable to the public and override the British legal system with questionable judgments. EU accession to the ECHR would result in a tighter net forming around UK membership to the Convention from which Britain would struggle to be freed. It is essential that the EU and the ECHR remain entirely independent. However I fear the proposed accession of the EU to the ECHR is designed to pave the way for Brussels to become the primary legal power in Europe in association with the European Courts of Human Rights.

 
  
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  Mariya Nedelcheva (PPE), par écrit. – La défense des droits fondamentaux de l'être humain est à la base des principes et des valeurs de notre Union. Le traité de Lisbonne prévoit l'adhésion de l'Union à la Convention européenne de sauvegarde des droits de l'homme et des libertés fondamentales.

Ainsi, la question qui se pose aujourd'hui est moins technique que politique. Les réserves exprimées par certains États membres, surtout en ce qui concerne la Cour de Strasbourg, mettent en cause le principe même de séparation des pouvoirs. Comment voulons-nous que les citoyens européens puissent faire défendre leurs droits fondamentaux si nous imposons à la Cour européenne des droits de l'homme le principe de subsidiarité, des critères restreints d'accessibilité et des considérations de "marge d'interprétation" dans ces jugements?

Pour moi, une Cour forte, accessible aux citoyens et défendant leur droits en toute neutralité est essentielle pour le bon fonctionnement de la démocratie en Europe. J'appelle donc la Commission et les États membres à faire preuve d'une volonté politique forte pour continuer à veiller à l'intégrité et à l'autorité de la Cour de Strasbourg et rendre enfin accessible aux acteurs de la société civile le processus d'adhésion de l'Union à la CEDH.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), schriftlich. – Der Beitritt der EU zur MRK ist aus mehreren Gründen abzulehnen: Erstens besteht gar keine Notwendigkeit. Denn es existiert bereits eine Grundrechte-Judikatur des EuGH. Der Einzelne kann eine Nichtigkeitsbeschwerde einreichen, um Rechtsakte überprüfen zu lassen. Außerdem haben wir seit Lissabon eine eigene Grundrechtscharta. Zweitens - und das ist für mich höchst problematisch - unterwirft sich die EU einer externen Kontrolle durch den EGMR. Einmal ganz abgesehen von Kompetenzkonflikten mit dem EuGH, wie kommen wir dazu, dass unsere Rechtsakte von aserbaidschanischen, ukrainischen oder türkischen Richtern überprüft werden? Weder sind diese Länder bei der EU, noch haben sie mit Menschenrechten viel am Hut! Schließlich zur inhaltlichen Linie: Brauchen wir wirklich einen Gerichtshof, der das Dublin-II-Abkommen aushebeln will? Einen Gerichtshof, bei dem man bis in die oberste Instanz kämpfen muss, um die Erlaubnis zu bekommen, Kreuze aufzuhängen? Einen Gerichtshof, der Italien verbieten wollte, sich gegen den Migrantenansturm auf Lampedusa zu wehren? Oder England, sich gegen Scheinehen zu wehren? Diese linkslinke Judikatur des EGMR brauchen wir nicht!

 
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