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Session de la Commission des Libertés publiques du 19,20 et 29 janvier 2009

pdf mise en ligne :17 10 2008 ( NEA say… n° 61 )

IMMIGRATION > Perspectives financières

  The LIBE Committee met on 20, 21 and 29January in Brussels In Agenda the following issues: Counter terrorism, Public access to documents, Community code on Visas, Equal Treatment, Security and fundamental freedoms on the Internet, Asylum System.

·       The Committee held an exchange of views with Mr Gilles de Kerchove, EU Counter terrorism Coordinator on the updated EU counter-terrorism strategy. One of the prominent issues were Transatlantic relations after the taking up office by President Obama, especially regarding Guantanamo prisoners, CIA flights.

Members were hoping for a less conservative approach of the new American Administration.

·       During the joint debate were announced three proposals: Minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers;

·       Establishment of  Eurodac for the comparison of fingerprints; Criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member State by a third-country national or a stateless person.

Chairman DEPREZ stated the coordinators view that the package should progress together and be adopted with large majorities.

Mr DEPREZ[i]  stressed that it was important to have the proposal presented quickly and that, according to the Framework Agreement three Institutions should agree on financing modalities of a new agency first.

The Commission stressed that the envisage date of adoption was 25 February .

 

 

The President of the LIBE Committee made a short introduction in which he    welcomed the three COM proposals. The President highlighted that the proposal should reach the EP before 15 February in order to allow this Parliament still to examine it and issue a report.

The three proposals have been very much welcomed by the rapporteurs, which considered them ambitious and well-founded.

Regarding the Reception Conditions Directive, the rapporteur welcomed the proposed amendments and in particular concerning the right to free legal assistance, grounds and conditions of detention, access to the labour market and the situation of vulnerable person.

Regarding the Dublin Regulation, the rapporteur welcomed the fact that the proposal very much strengthens both the protection and the efficiency side of system. The intervention focused on Article 31(suspension of transfers in case of situations of particular pressure or in case a MS does not offer an adequate level of protection to asylum seekers). The rapporteur  proposed amending this article in order to lay down the obligation to set up a binding instrument of solidarity which should be applied by all Member States before the end of 2012.

The Commission welcomed the support of the Committee on the asylum package and expressed thanks for the swift launching of the legislative procedure in the Parliament.

 

Public Access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents

Consideration of draft report

M. CASHMAN[ii] (PSE/UK), rapporteur, noted that some of the Commission’s proposals might be perceived as a step backwards; for example as regards the definition of documents. However, he agreed with the Commission’s intentions as they were presented by M. WALLSTROM in the joint session of the LIBE Committee with the Czech Parliament concerning the critical aspects of the proposal on the revision of  Regulation 1049/20001.

The intention is to vote on the report in the March second plenary but without adopting the legislative resolution. The rapporteur recalled the many points of his draft opinion: new definitions of legislative, administrative and classified documents, reintroduction of the existing definition of documents.

In the meeting of 29 January 2009, Mr CASHMAN, supported by the other MEMBERS, reiterated his objections to the technique of  recast proposed by the Commission by announcing “a legal battle”. After indication by the Commission that a revised proposal might be formally put on the table only in autumn, the Rapporteur warned that the issue of access to documents will in that case become a key political problem during hearings of new Commissioners.

The exchange of views on the wind-up resolution on the annual debate on the area of freedom, security and justice, which will include in particular EP views on the post Hague programme, was postponed to the next meeting.

The chairman, Mr DEPREZ informed the Committee that further contacts will take place between the rapporteurs during the February plenary session. The LIBE Committee will hold another discussion on the issue at its next meeting (9-10 February) and will vote on the amendments on 17 February. The report adopted by the LIBE Committee will presumably be submitted for a vote in the first March plenary session.

 

Community Code on Visas

The rapporteur presented the state of play negotiations on the Visa Code.

Mr LAX  emphasised strong wish for the creation of a “common Schengen visa website”. However, Mr Lax is confident that agreement on the Visa Code can be reached in the course of February.

 

Consultation procedure

-Equal treatment of persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation

Ms IN’T VELT (ALDE/NL), proposed to delete provisions dealing with the marital status. Member states’ competences in the area of the family law should be restated while making it clear that MS are obliged to observe non-discrimination principle also in this area.

Deadline for the amendments was set to 23.01.2009. LIBE committee will vote on the proposal on 17.02.2009.

 

 

OWN-INIZIATIVE  REPORTS AND OPINIONS

 

-Security and fundamental freedoms on the Internet

On the 20th January the LIBE Committee held a first exchange of views on Mr. LAMBRINIDIS[iii] (FR) (EN) report on Strengthening the security and fundamental freedoms on the Internet. During the presentation, he particularly emphasized the problem linked to data protection and the importance of protecting fundamental rights on the internet.

Mr. POPA (EPP/RO) noted that this report took its origin from the idea of having an Internet Bill of Rights and went even further by proposing the creation of a Charter of Fundamental rights of  Internet.

Mrs. GACEK (EPP/PL) emphasized the importance of protecting children and helping parents to control them.

 

 

-The future of the European Common Asylum system

During this debate there is a short presentation by the European Economic and Social Committee. In particular EESC attaches great importance to three particular areas: the rapid creation of the Asylum Support Office; the “humanisation” of the Dublin system; resettlement.

 

-A Common Immigration Policy for Europe: Principles, Actions and tools.

Mr BUSUTILL (EEP-ED/MT), highlighted the need to work towards establishing a common policy for legal migration. For him immigration is not a problem but as a challenge needing a common EU response. In conclusion he will underline the need to move toward the implementation of the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum.

Mr MORENO SANCHEZ (PSE/ES) underlined that the UE should stop seeing immigration as a problem and that more importance should be given to opening to legal migration.

-Problems and prospects concerning European citizenship

After listing all UE citizenship rights in Part Two of the EC Treaty, the rapporteur stated what struck her most was EU citizens general lack of awareness of their rights.

M. Ignasi GUARDANS CAMBO (ALDE/ES) forcefully made the point that there is a real problem with the implementation of EU citizens’ rights, illustrating his point by pointing out that: 1) Although we have come a long way in terms of free movement in the EU, citizens still encounter difficulties exercising their rights because it is sometimes hard to prove that you are an EU citizen; 2) Some Member States prevent EU citizens from other MS from becoming members of political parties and/or founding political and 3) Consular protection in third countries is a fiction, Mr Guardans Cambo having witnessed its shortcoming personally following the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

-Application of Directive 2004/38/EC on the right of EU citizens and their   family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States

The rapporteur recalled the EP resolution of 15 November 2007 on application of Directive 20004/38/EC on the right of EU citizens and their family members to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States which asked the LIBE Committee, in collaboration with the national parliaments, to complete an assessment by 1 June 2008 of the problems in transposition of the Directive.

The rapporteur informed that a questionnaire was sent to all Member States and many of them have replied. The EP report is being finished and will presented in February 2009. She underlined the importance of fundamental right of EU citizens to move and reside freely and the impact of the Directive on EU citizens. The EP report will find that the Directive was implemented in a unsatisfactory manner.

The EP report will highlight problems caused by restrictive and too complicated implementation of the Directive (same-sex partners, sufficient resources...), differences of its application in Member States and obstacles to free movement.

In the meeting of 29 January the rapporteur Adina-Ioala VALEAN (ALDE/RO), stated that three years after the transposition deadline, time has come to ensure (

Ms. ROURE[iv] (PSE/FR) highlighted the importance of working together with national parliaments.

Ms ANGELILLI[v] (UEN/IT) recalled a meeting with VP Barrot before Christmas and underlined the importance of Commission guidelines on the Directive that should be improve its transposition .

Mr. CASHMAN (PSE/UK) considered that the Commission must act against Member States as a guardian of the Treaty shortly, notably concerning same-sex partners.

Mr. FRANCA (PSE/PT) agreed with MEP Roure that national parliaments must work more closely with the EP.

The vote on the report is expected to take place at LIBE on 5 March 2009.

 

OTHER BUSINESS

 

Presentation of the updated EU counter terrorism strategy by Gilles DE KERCHOVE (EU Counter-terrorism Coordinator)[vi][vii]

 

Gilles de Kerchove presented his well-known papers of November last years on progress with respect to the Counter-Terrorism strategy, focusing on three main strands : information exchange, radicalisation and recruitment, and external relations.

He applauded the activism and dynamism of the French Presidency and the Commission over the past six months. Nevertheless, he stressed the need for better co-operation between Europol and Euro just.

About the relations with US he expressed his hopes for the end of the unilateralism and the war on terror which has characterised the Bush administration, and again spoke about the need to assist the Obama administration in closing Guantanamo through allowing ex-detainees to come to MS.

 

The EP was generally appreciative of the presentation, but a number of critical issues were raised.

Baroness LUDFORD (ALDE/UK) questioned new proposals for the exchange of information, now that it appeared that MS had not even implemented or ratified the previously agreed measures.

Mr LAMBRINIDIS (PSE/EL) wondered about increased risks of terrorism following the Gaza conflict, and stressed that Al-Jazeera is a reputable news organization, not a propaganda tool for terrorism.

 

Mrs LEFRANCOIS (PSE/FR) commented on thre need for more Europol/Euro just co-operation. Cyber terrorism in particular is a significant threat, with more than 500 extremist web-sites available on the internet.

 

Recent case-law on data protection by the European Court of Human Rights and European Court of Justice

Presentation by the EP Legal Service

The Legal service of the EP made a presentation of two recent court judgments on the protection of personal data.

  • In the case[viii] of S. and Marper v. the United Kingdom, the European Court of Human Rights, found in favour of two British men, one being a minor who argued it was illegal for police to hold their fingerprints, cellular samples and DNA profiles. Neither of the men had been convicted of any offence.

          The court found that the blanket and indiscriminate nature of the powers          of   retention of the fingerprints, cellular samples and DNA profiles of persons      suspected but not convicted of offences, failed to strike a fair balance between the competing public and private interests.

The Court concluded unanimously that there had been a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

 

  • The case[ix] Heinz Huber v Germany concerns the compatibility of the German Central Register of Foreigners with Community Law, namely with the prohibition of discrimination on account of nationality and the Data Protection Directive. The case was referred to the European Court of Justice by the Oberverwaltungsgericht Nordhein-Westfalen, seizen by Mr Hube, an Austrian citizen for at least 12 years in Germany, who unsuccessfully.

 

The Court observed that Community law does not exclude the power of Member States to adopt measures enabling the national authorities to have an exact knowledge that certain information will be collected by those states.

 

Priorities and work programme of the Czech EU Council Presidency

 

The President of the LIBE committee G. DEPREZ (ALDE/BE) introduced by stating that the CZ presidency in this field already will be a success, as several proposals in the area are aproved by EP or will be adopted in the next months. He ensured the Minister that LIBE wants to work closely with the CZ presidency in order to achieve progress.

The minister, after indicating that it is not always easy for a Liberal to be Minister of  Interieur, outlined 4 priorities of the presidency during its six month term :

 

  • SIS II : The Minister explained that SIS II had not been on the original list of priorities for the CZ presidency, but that a thorough analysis of the project was needed due to the delays occurred despite investment of around 100Millions of Euro.

 

 

  • IT security systems : The focus on modern technologies needs to be seen linked to the overall priority of a Europe without frontiers. Security, mobility, free movement and protection of privacy are linked and should be on equal footing.

 

 

  • Child protection : The Minister mentioned apart from the better use of technologies and the control of relevant internet sites the extension of the exchange of data between police in this area.

 

  • Fight against drugs : The Minister underlined the need to have a rational drugs policy comprising law enforcement, treatment and reduction of supply.

 

The LIBE Committee met on 29 January in Brussels with Mr DEPREZ in the Chair has discussed about two important issues:

·       Parliament’s new role and responsibilities implementing the Treaty of Lisbon

Mr CASHMAN raised the question of the opportunity of discussing the Treaty of Lisbon before it was ratified. He said that this could be seen as a disrespect of the EP for the will of the citizens. He said that a balance should be reached between the respect for the will of the citizens and the need of the EP to be well prepared as soon as the Treaty enters into force.

·       Framework decision on prevention and settlement of conflicts of jurisdiction in criminal proceedings

The CZ presidency presented the proposal which has as its objective to create a mechanism to prevent and settle conflicts of jurisdiction in criminal proceedings. The proposal aims to achieve this objective by establishing:

-        a mandatory notification procedure in order to ensure that Member States inform each other at an early stage about relevant ongoing criminal proceedings,

-        a mandatory consultation procedure in order to ensure that conflicts of jurisdiction between Member States are being settled and

-        a list of criteria to be used by Member States in order to identify the best placed jurisdiction for conducting the criminal proceedings.

 

 

 

 

 

BUDGETARY ITEMS

 

VOTE

·       2007 discharge : EU general budget, Section III – Commission

·       2007 discharge :European Union Fundamental Rights Agency

·       2007 discharge :European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction

·       2007 discharge: Eurojust

·       2007 discharge: European Police College

·       2007 discharge : European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders

The Committee voted the drafted opinions on 2007 Discharge general budget and on the five JLS agencies. They were adopted by a large majority.

 

DATE AND PLACE OF NEXT MEETING

 

The Committee will hold its next meeting in Brussels on 9 and 10 February 2009.

 

   Daniela Vacarro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



[i] PE415.169v02, Draft delegation report DEPREZ on the LIBE delegation to Rome, 18 - 20 September 2008

 

[ii] PE415.164v02, Draft report CASHMAN on public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents

 

[iii]pe416.306, Draft report LAMBRINIDIS on strengthening security and fundamental freedoms on the Internet