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Tuesday, 4 May 2004 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Freedom and security for Union citizens
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  McKenna (Verts/ALE ). Mr President, I very much agree with the last speaker. In the wake of September 11 much oppressive legislation has been forced through. This is a major problem because it seems that the rule of law is being pushed aside in the fight against terrorism. If you push the rule of law aside and ignore it you are in effect allowing the terrorists to win on another front.

Today we had to vote for the third time on what was basically the same issue. This is very alarming because it showed that there was much unwillingness within the Council to accept the democratic will of Parliament: it obviously hoped that if it asked us enough times it would get the answer it wanted.

In relation to the PNR issue, it is extremely important that citizens have the right to data protection. We should have the same rights as US citizens if there is any agreement, that is fundamental.

Regarding the issue of Christianity versus Islam there is a major problem. This is not acceptable. Europe has to allow all people to live freely within society, whether they are Muslim, Christian or of no religious belief. Everybody should be entitled to equal rights.

There is a lot of hypocrisy regarding people from the new Member States. All 15 of the 'old' Member States have introduced measures restricting the rights of the new countries' citizens coming in as regards whether they can get jobs, travel or benefit from social services in the 'old' Member States. This is creating double standards, which is a major problem.

Finally, on the issue of third country nationals, we have a major problem throughout the European Union with this 'Fortress Europe' mentality, keeping out the so-called non-desirables: non-whites, non-westerners or non-Christians. In all countries we have a major problem with more and more oppressive legislation being introduced. Even things like the Geneva Convention are being pushed aside in the interests of keeping people out of Europe. We have to take down the barriers. We have to allow Europe to be open and we must help these people. We have to look at why they are fleeing from their own countries. That is the way to look at peace, security and justice for all.

 
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