Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 32 n° 126

Posts Tagged ‘civil liberties’

Big Data: Civil Liberties MEPs call for better protection of fundamental rights and privacy

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 11 febbraio 2017

european parliamentMore investment in digital literacy, strengthened transparency of algorithms and special attention to data used for law enforcement needed to safeguard fundamental rights in the digital era, Civil Liberties MEPs say in a non-legislative resolution passed on Thursday.
The non-legislative resolution drafted by Ana Gomes (S&D, PT) on the fundamental rights implications on Big data looks at how the increasing use of Big data impacts on fundamental rights, namely privacy and data protection. It stresses the need to avoid discrimination based on the use of such data, including in law enforcement, as well as the need to ensure security of data.While the big data is growing by 40% per year and has the potential to bring undeniable benefits and opportunities for citizens, businesses and governments, but also entails significant risks with regard to the protection of fundamental rights as guaranteed by the EU Charter and Union law.”With this report, we want to stress that the immense opportunities of big data can only be fully enjoyed by citizens and institutions if there is public trust in these technologies”, said Parliament’s rapporteur Ana Gomes.“Big data analytics pose specific challenges for fundamental rights and raise concerns over discrimination and security. We need to address these risks with specific guidelines, more transparency and algorithmic accountability. We have a strong data protection framework in the EU, but tackling these issues in an effective manner will require genuine and concerted cooperation between the private and public sectors, law enforcement authorities and independent supervisory authorities. This is certainly an issue that Parliament will continue to look at,” she added.
MEPs also want the Commission, the member states and the data protection authorities to take “any possible measures” to minimise algorithmic discrimination, including price discrimination, where consumers are given different prices of a product based on data collected from their previous internet behaviour, or unlawful discrimination and targeting of certain groups or persons defined by their race, colour, ethic or social origin, religion or political view or being refused from social benefits.
They also emphasise the need for greater accountability and transparency of algorithms with regards to data processing and analytics by both private and public sector and warn that low quality of data or low quality procedures could result in biased algorithms. MEPs also emphasise that the enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation with respect to algorithms and big data.
The increase in data flows imply further vulnerabilities and new security challenges, MEPs say. They call for the use of privacy by design and by default, anonymisation techniques, encryption, and mandatory privacy impact assessments. They also stress that special attention should be given to the security of e-government systems.Special attention should also be paid to data used in for law enforcement purposes which should always be assessed by a human being, MEPs say. They recall that Directive (EU) 2016/680 governs the processing of personal data for law enforcement purposes and call on the Commission, the European Data Protection Board and other independent supervisory authorities to issue guidelines and best practises for further specifying the criteria and conditions for decisions based on the use of big data for law enforcement purposes.
MEPs urge the EU institutions and member states to invest in digital awareness-raising of digital rights, privacy and data protection among citizens, including children. This education should foster an understanding of how algorithms and automated decision-making work and how data is collected for example from social networks, connected devices and internet searches.

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Civil Liberties MEPs criticise member states slowness in setting up their PNR systems

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 2 febbraio 2017

european commissionCivil Liberties MEPs criticised on Tuesday EU countries for their slowness in setting up their national PNR systems. The new directive on the use of Passenger Name Records (PNR) for the fight against terrorism and other serious crime was approved in April 2016, following years of discussion among the co-legislators. Member States have until May 2018 to transpose it to national legislation.
According to the European Commission, at the end of 2016, only four countries had both functional or almost functional PNR systems in place as well as the necessary legislation providing for the collection or processing of the data. Twelve countries were in various stages of development, while the eleven remaining are still at a “relatively early stage”.The Commission has so far provided national authorities with €51.8 million of EU funds to develop PNR related projects and has proposed to provide an additional €70 million to continue assisting on the development of the national systems.

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Proper assessment of Privacy Shield needed, stresses Civil Liberties Committee Chair

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 14 gennaio 2017

european commissionThe Commission should conduct a proper assessment of the Privacy Shield for data transfers to the US, Civil Liberties MEPs say in a draft resolution debated on Thursday.Claude Moraes, Chair of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee, said after the debate on the draft resolution:“This resolution acknowledges that the Privacy Shield contains clear improvements compared to the previous Safe Harbour but key deficiencies remain to be urgently resolved. However, it also calls on the Commission to conduct a proper assessment and calls on the EU Data Protection Authorities to make use of their supervisory powers to ensure that EU data protection law is respected.
– Since the invalidation of the Safe Harbour framework in October 2015, the European Parliament has consistently called for a stronger arrangement, one that provides a protection of personal data which meets the requirements of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Data Protection legal framework.
– While the final agreement on the Privacy Shield adopted in July 2016 took a number of our concerns into consideration, the Civil Liberties Committee has decided to propose a new Parliamentary resolution as many of our concerns still remain. These include concerns regarding the principle of data retention, the bulk collection of personal data for national security purposes, the need for sufficient judicial redress and effective independent oversight as well as several law enforcement issues. If these concerns are not taken into account the Privacy Shield risks not achieving its purpose and could be challenged in the Court.
– The joint annual review of the Privacy Shield which is expected mid-2017 will be crucial in order to integrate these concerns to ensure that the arrangement provides a protection of personal data which meets the requirements of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Data Protection legal framework which will apply from May 2018.”

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Civil Liberties MEPs confirm deal granting Georgia visa-free access to the EU

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 13 gennaio 2017

SchengenThe deal reached between Parliament and Council negotiators granting Georgian citizens visa-free access to the Schengen area was endorsed on Thursday by the Civil Liberties Committee. The text, which was approved with 42 votes to 2, with 1 abstention, will need to be confirmed in plenary, probably in February.Under the visa exemption, Georgians who hold a biometric passport will be able to enter the EU without requesting a visa for 90 days in any 180-day period, for business, tourist or family purposes.The visa waivers apply to the Schengen area, which includes 22 EU member states (all except Ireland, the United Kingdom, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria) plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
The legal change transferring Georgia from the list of countries whose nationals need a visa to enter the EU (the “negative” list) to the list of countries exempted of that requirement (the “positive” list) will have to be confirmed by Plenary as a whole, most likely in February. Following adoption by the Council of Ministers, the text will be signed and published in the Official Journal of the EU.
The visa waiver for Georgia will enter into force on the same date as the review of the visa suspension mechanism, which was approved by Parliament on 15 December (still pending finalisation of the official translation of the legal texts).

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Fighting radicalisation and extremism – Civil Liberties Committee hearing Tuesday

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 30 novembre 2016

terrorismoWays to prevent and counter radicalisation and violent extremism will be debated in the Civil Liberties Committee on Tuesday afternoon with Security Union Commissioner Sir Julian King, Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerkhove and counter-terrorism experts. MEPs will take stock of progress made in this area since last year and focus on future challenges.The hearing will be split into three panel sessions with separate Q&As. The first panel session “Setting the scene – what are the challenges ahead? (15.00-15.30) will look at what has been done in the field of preventing radicalisation since Parliament adopted its November 2015 resolution on “The prevention of radicalisation and recruitment of European citizens by terrorist organisations.” On the panel will be Commissioner for Security Union Sir Julian King, the Council Presidency and Parliament’s rapporteur on the 2015 resolution, Rachida Dati (EPP, FR).The second session will focus on “Preventing and countering radicalisation online” (15.30 – 17.00) with a panel from the digital industry, the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN), and the Internet Referral Unit at Europol. The third session, on “Countering radicalisation in prisons / judicial system and de-radicalisation” (17.00 – 18.30) will have a panel of experts from the police and prison systems, Eurojust, and the EXIT working group at RAN.The hearing aims to follow up on the concrete proposals for a comprehensive strategy to fight extremism set out by Parliament on 25 November 2015 in a non-binding resolution adopted in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris.In this resolution, Parliament proposed drawing up an EU blacklist of jihadists and jihadist terrorist suspects and stressed the need for a common definition of “foreign fighters” to permit criminal proceedings against them. It also underlined the need for mandatory and systemic checks at the EU’s external borders and stressed the need to ensure a smooth exchange of information between national law enforcement bodies. To prevent praise of terrorism on the internet, MEPs said they wanted illegal content that spread violent extremism to be deleted promptly, but in line with fundamental rights.

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International police cooperation: Civil Liberties MEPs back deals with Ukraine and Georgia

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 19 novembre 2016

ucrainaCivil Liberties MEPs on Thursday backed two agreements establishing police cooperation between Europol and Ukraine and Europol and Georgia. The “operational and strategic” agreements allow for the exchange of information, including personal data. Such information could be in the field of specialist knowledge, general situation reports, results of strategic analysis, information on criminal investigation procedures, information on crime-prevention methods, participation in training activities as well as providing advice and support in individual criminal investigations.According to Europol, Ukraine is increasingly relevant in the fight against organized crime, more specific drug-related and economic crimes, trafficking in human beings and smuggling, as well as mobile (itinerant) organised crime groups. Exchange of information will enable the EU, Member States and Ukraine to prevent and combat organised crime, terrorism and other forms of international crime more effectively.Georgia is increasingly relevant in the fight against terrorism an organised crime, more specifically since it is a transit country for foreign fighters and a vital partner in the fight against Georgian organised criminal groups.Under the current rules established in the Europol Council Decision (2009/371/JHA), Parliament must only be consulted before the Council establishes police cooperation agreements with third countries. However, the rapporteur underlines that, according to the new Europol regulation, which entered into force on 11 May 2016 and will apply from 1 May 2017, the Commission will have to check all existing cooperation agreements to see if they comply with data protection standards and inform Parliament of about the outcome of the assessment.
Once the new Europol regulation starts to apply, Parliament will decide on an equal footing with Council on future police cooperation agreements and will be required to give a green light to new agreements.
The two agreements must now be voted by the full House. The agreement establishing police cooperation with Ukraine is scheduled for a vote in the Brussels-session on 1 December, in order for Council to sign the agreement at the EU-Ukraine summit on 24 November. The cooperation agreement with Georgia is expected to be voted later.

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Civil Liberties MEPs back visa waiver agreements with five Pacific states

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 10 novembre 2016

european parliamentCivil Liberties MEPs recommended on Tuesday the European Parliament to give its consent to short-stay visa waiver agreements between the EU and the states of Kiribati, Micronesia, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands and Marshall Islands. EU citizens will be able to travel visa-free to the five Pacific countries, and their citizens to the EU, for stays of up to 90 days within any 180-day period.The visa waiver covers all categories of persons (ordinary, diplomatic, service/official and special passport holders) travelling for all kinds of purposes, except for the purpose of carrying out a paid activity. Parliament´s rapporteur for the agreements, Mariya Gabriel (EPP, BG), noted that the visa deals represent a culmination of the deepening of relations with those countries and show the EU´s commitment to the region. The EU is currently negotiating Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements with fourteen Pacific countries, including these five.Parliament as a whole is expected to vote on the five agreements in its next session, 21-24 November.
On 27 February 2014, Parliament approved the amended EU visa regulation, transferring 19 non-EU countries from the “negative list” (countries whose nationals need a visa to travel to the Schengen area) to the “positive list” (those whose nationals do not need a visa for this purpose). These changes were agreed with the EU Council of Ministers under the co-decision procedure. The visa waivers would only apply after the negotiation of a bilateral agreement with each of these countries. The negotiations were opened at the end of 2014. The agreements with Kiribati and Tuvalu were signed on 23 June and 1 July 2016, respectively. They have been provisionally applied since then pending approval by Parliament.The deals with Solomon Islands, Micronesia and Marshall Islands were concluded last year and the Council adopted on 24 June 2016 a decision on the signing. In accordance with the protocols annexed to the EU treaties, the UK and Ireland will not participate in these agreement and will not be subject to their provisions.

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Schengen area: present and future

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 12 ottobre 2016

Civil Liberties MEPs will assess the current state of the Schengen cooperation and what to be expected in the near future dSchengenuring a hearing on Wednesday afternoon with representatives of the Commission and Frontex, as well as academics. The passport-free area has come under stress following the large-scale influx of migrants over the last few years. The reintroduction of temporary border controls by several member states has prompted comments that the Schengen cooperation was dead or should be abolished.Commissioner Avramopoulos will present his views on the present state of affairs of the Schengen cooperation. Currently Germany, France, Austria, Sweden, Denmark and Norway (not an EU member state, but part of the Schengen area) have re-imposed checks in the internal borders. MEPs will then discuss two studies focused on these temporary controls, with the aim to determine their impact and look at ways to return to normal Schengen rules.
Frontex executive director Fabrice Leggeri will explain the role of the new European border and coast guard. MEPs will also debate the new Schengen evaluation mechanism and the future of Schengen related information systems, including the recent proposal by the Commission to introduce a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) for visa-exempt travellers. Data protection aspects of these tools will be discussed with the assistant European Data Protection Supervisor.

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Civil liberties MEPs call for better monitoring of democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights in the EU

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 5 ottobre 2016

giustizia europeaA binding EU mechanism, based on objective, evidence based and non-political criteria, should be set up to monitor the state of democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights in EU member states on an annual basis said Civil Liberties MEPs in a report voted on Monday night. They call on the European Commission to submit a proposal by September 2017.The new mechanism would be designed to ensure that the values enshrined in the EU Treaties are respected throughout the Union. “Recent cases in different member states have shown there is a need for stronger and more objective tools for the enforcement of agreed rules and standards”, says lead MEP Sophie In’t Veld (ALDE, NL).“Instead of responding to incidents, we need to put in place a systematic mechanism to ensure the respect for democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights in all member states and EU institutions, fostering a culture of democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights”, she adds.
Whereas “failure of a candidate country to meet the required standards, values and democratic principles” results in a delay in accession to the Union, the failure of a member state to meet these same standards “has little consequence in practice”, the draft report says.
To remedy this shortcoming, the new mechanism would establish a policy cycle and a monitoring mechanism, similar to the model known from the Economic Semester.The European Commission should on an annual basis, and in consultation of a panel of experts, draw up an assessment report which also looks at possible risks, breaches and violations and gives country specific recommendations.This report would be made public and serve as a basis for an inter-parliamentary debate. If a member state falls short of fulfilling one or more of the benchmarks set, the Commission should immediately start a dialogue with the country and may also decide to launch a “systemic infringement” action under article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union and Article 258 TFEU, explains the text. The mechanism will also set clear benchmarks on when article 7 should be invoked.
The legislative initiative report on the establishment of an EU mechanism on democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights is scheduled for a plenary vote in Strasbourg at the end of October. The European Commission will have to give a reasoned response to the proposal once approved by the European Parliament.

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Civil liberties MEPs back plans to waive visa requirements for Ukrainians

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 27 settembre 2016

ucrainaPlans to waive visa requirements for Ukrainian citizens entering the Schengen area were approved by the Civil Liberties Committee on Monday. If approved by Parliament and Council, it will allow Ukrainians who have a biometric passport to enter the EU area without a visa for 90 days in any 180-day period, for business, tourist or family purposes. The resolution drafted by Mariya Gabriel (EPP, BG), was approved by 38 votes to 4 with 1 abstention.Ms Gabriel notes that the visa liberalisation dialogue has proven “an effective tool to promote difficult and far-reaching reforms”, particularly in the field of justice and internal affairs. Ms Gabriel points to the Association agreement between the EU and Ukraine, ratified by both Parliaments last year, and considers it a clear proof of the shared aspiration to achieve “a substantive rapprochement”.Waiving the visa obligation, she adds, will represent a concrete achievement reflecting the aspirations and commitment shown by the Ukrainian people to peace, stability and a European and reformist direction for the country.As to migration and security risks, the rapporteur underlines that the current refusal rate for EU visas for Ukrainian citizens is below 2%, while the return rate of irregular migrants, under a bilateral readmission agreement signed in 2007, is over 80%.The EU and Kiev started visa liberalisation negotiations in 2008. At the end of 2015, the European Commission concluded that Ukraine had made the necessary progress and met all the benchmarks, despite the exceptional internal and external challenges it had faced in recent years, and presented a proposal to grant its citizens visa-free access to the EU last April.
The committee also backed the opening of negotiations with the Council, by 38 to 5 , with a view to reaching a first reading agreement on the plans, and approved the composition of the negotiating team.

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Civil Liberties MEPs in Lebanon: funding alone will not solve the crisis, better resettlement tools are needed

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 23 settembre 2016

rifugiati sirianiWith around 1,5 million refugees fleeing to Lebanon since the beginning of the war in Syria, it is clear that the situation in the country is untenable and that substantial help is needed to avoid a complete breakdown, not only in terms of financial assistance, but also through improved resettlement tools, says Civil Liberties Committee Chair Claude Moraes who this week heads a delegation to Beirut.Lebanon is currently the country in the world with the highest number of refugees per capita, around one in four living on its territory is a refugee. Against this backdrop, a 7 MEP strong delegation from the Civil Liberties Committee this week visited Lebanon to look into the situation for refugees on the ground.”It is clear that Lebanon is reaching a saturation point”, says Claude Moraes (S&D, UK). Vital infrastructure all over the country such as education and sanitation is heavily affected by the influx of the refugees which means that this is not just a refugee crisis, but a crisis that affects the country overall and which could rapidly aggravate. Lebanon has by far surpassed the efforts of the rest of the EU in its response to the crisis and has coped remarkably well under very difficult circumstances. Humanitarian aid from the EU and others is highly needed to alleviate the unprecedented pressure the country is experiencing”.”The poverty among the Syrian refugees is alarming and efficient policies on education and health care are more needed than ever”, the chair says on the experience of the delegation. “People are living under appalling conditions, in overcrowded apartments shared by several families in order to afford the rent or even in basement parkings, with no water, toilet or electricity. The issue of a 200$ fee on residents permits has been mentioned as a reason for many to be staying illegally in the country which might make them vulnerable to exploitation in the labour market and elsewhere”.”Conditions are also difficult for the Palestinians who experience restrictions on access to employment which makes them dependent on services from UN’s agency for Palestinian Refugees, UNRWA”, he continues.”The situation cannot be solved by humanitarian aid alone, it calls for political solutions to put an end to the ongoing conflict and consequently take some of the pressure of the country. However, we do not consider returning the Syrians to safe zones within Syria safe at this point, and we are very concerned that lives could be lost if it were to happen”, the Chair explains.”We need member states to urgently uphold their humanitarian responsibilities and we need to ensure a better, more even distribution among the EU countries. In the coming months, the Civil Liberties Committee will take on the task of ensuring a better functioning resettlement system to coordinate and step up efforts of the EU in this field. There is an urgent need for the EU to adopt legislative tools that actually work and can contribute to alleviate the demographic pressure on countries such as Lebanon and prevent further destabilisation in the region”, Claude Moraes ends.

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Civil Liberties Committee MEPs visited Swedish-Danish border checks

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 22 settembre 2016

malmoA Civil Liberties Committee delegation visited Malmö, southern Sweden, from 19 to 21 September to look into the country’s border controls with neighbouring Denmark. These were reintroduced in November 2015 in response to the vast number of refugees trying to reach Sweden. Members also checked how Swedish authorities are managing to integrate unaccompanied minor asylum seekers.
“Border controls may deter migrants from entering the country, but they come with limits and high costs. Sweden also continues to have a generous policy towards asylum seekers and refugees, but does not unfortunately seem to prioritize the tracking and safe-keeping of thousands of vulnerable unaccompanied minors: which may lead to human rights violations and entail security risks”, said delegation chief Anna Gomes (S&D, PT).The aim of the delegation, formed by 6 MEPs, was to evaluate the operational aspects of the ID and border control checks. MEPs also met with representatives from the Swedish Migration Agency to talk about the procedures for asylum in Sweden, with national police to discuss their work on combating human trafficking, as well as with NGO: s Save the Children and Öresundsinstitutet.They further visited the border control points on the Öresund bridge, at Hyllie train station and in the Helsingborg port.
Delegation: Ana GOMES (Head of delegation, S&D, PT), Kristina WINBERG (EFDD, SE), Malin BJÖRK (GUE/NGL, SE), József NAGY (EPP, SK), Anna Maria CORAZZA BILDT (EPP, SE), Emilian PAVEL (S&D, RO).

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Civil Liberties Committee MEPs attended UN high-level meeting on refugees

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 21 settembre 2016

onu assembleaNew York. A Civil Liberties Committee delegation visited the UN in New York City from 18 to 20 September, where they attended the UNGA high-level meeting on migrants and refugees. The delegation chief Cecilia Wikström (ALDE, SE) also gave a speech on the driving forces behind migration, in which she highlighted the positive contributions from global movement. Further, MEPs met with Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans to discuss a more humane and coordinated approach to refugee challenges.This was the first time the General Assembly has called for a summit at the Heads of State and Government level on large movements of refugees and migrants, as well as on how to internationally respond to it.“Global action must really be comprehensive. That is to say that forced migration should not be the only possibility for international mobility. We should speak about migration with two elements – legal migration and people in need of internal protection. At the level of the EU and especially its Member States it means implementing a comprehensive policy based on solidarity and on developing legal, safe and orderly migration to the EU, said Ms Wikström.The General Assembly also adopted a set of commitments to enhance the protection of people fleeing from conflict – which were agreed on 2 August – and will be known as the New York Declaration.MEPs taking part in the delegation were Cecilia Wikström (ALDE, SE), Róza Maria GRÄFIN VON THUN UND HOHENSTEIN (EPP, PL) and Elly SCHLEIN (S&D, IT). They also had a meeting with Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and the current European Union ambassador to the United Nations João Vale de Almeida, to discuss what more could be done to address migration challenges on EU and global level. The visit further included roundtables, plenary sessions, a private sector forum on migration and refugees, as well as a bilateral meeting with Ms Karen Abuzayd, UN special advisor on the summit on addressing the large movements of refugees and migrants.

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Refugee resettlement: Civil Liberties MEPs in Lebanon

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 20 settembre 2016

libanoA 7-strong delegation of Civil Liberties Committee MEPs will be in Lebanon this week to look into the situation of refugees and resettlement. MEPs will visit refugee camps and meet UNHCR, UNICEF, UNRWA, international NGOs and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) staff working with the refugees. They will also meet representatives of the Lebanese Parliament and Minister for Social Affairs Mr Rashed Derbas (tbc).The delegation, headed by Civil Liberties Committee Chair Claude Moraes (S&D, UK), will focus on issues related to the resettlement of refugees currently living in Lebanon. The country is currently hosting about 1 million Syrian refugees alone, in addition to the large numbers of Palestinian refugees living in the country for decades.
“Against the backdrop of the worldwide challenges for refugee protection, resettlement has come to the forefront of managing flows of people in need of international protection. With a population of 4.5 million, of which 1.5 million are refugees, Lebanon has surpassed the efforts of the EU in its response to one of the most severe global refugee crisis”, says Claude Moraes ahead of the visit.“I look forward to leading the LIBE delegation to Lebanon as it will serve as a great opportunity for our members to engage with NGOs, including the UNHCR and the IRC, that are on the ground providing much needed humanitarian assistance, as well as speak with our Lebanese counterparts to get more insight into the policies to support the refugees and facilitate better integration by the Lebanese government”, he adds.The findings for the delegation will feed into the committee’s legislative work in the area of asylum, notably on the proposals for an EU resettlement framework, presented by the Commission on 13 July, which aims to enhance the
EU resettlement scheme so it can become a more efficient tool to provide protection to those in urgent need. “As chair of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee I will keep the resettlement proposals as a key priority for our committee to finalise” , Mr Moraes stresses.

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Civil Liberties Committee MEPs to assess Swedish-Danish border checks

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 18 settembre 2016

malmoMalmö. A Civil Liberties Committee delegation will be in Malmö, southern Sweden, from 19 to 21 September to look into the country’s border controls with neighbouring Denmark. These were reintroduced in November 2015 in response to the vast number of refugees trying to reach Sweden. Members will also assess how the Swedish authorities are managing to integrate unaccompanied minor asylum seekers.
The aim of the delegation, formed by seven MEPs and headed by Ana Gomes (S&D, PT), is to evaluate the operational aspects of the ID and border control checks and the Swedish processes for handling unaccompanied minors. MEPs want inter alia to gain insights into asylum procedures in Sweden and the work against human trafficking. They will also visit border check points on the Öresund bridge and at Hyllie train station. The delegation will meet representatives of several authorities, including the National Police, the Swedish Migration Agency, and the Öresund Institute NGO.

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Civil Liberties Committee MEPs to attend UN high-level meeting on refugees

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 18 settembre 2016

New YorkNew York. A Civil Liberties Committee delegation will be in New York City from 18 to 20 September, to take part in a UN high-level meeting on refugees and migrants. The UN General Assembly is expected to adopt a set of commitments to enhance the protection of people fleeing from conflict. MEPs will also meet Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
Once adopted, these commitments – which were agreed to on 2 August – will be known as the New York Declaration. Members travelling in the delegation are Cecilia Wikström (ALDE, SE), Róza Maria GRÄFIN VON THUN UND HOHENSTEIN (EPP, PL) and Elly SCHLEIN (S&D; IT).
The visit will also include roundtables, plenary sessions, a private sector forum on migration and refugees, as well as a bilateral meeting with Ms Karen Abuzayd, UN special advisor on the summit on addressing the large movements of refugees and migrants.

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Civil Liberties MEPs gives first assessment after hearing of UK candidate for Commissioner for Security Union

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 15 settembre 2016

Commissione-europeaAfter the hearing on Monday evening, the Civil Liberties Committee recommends that Sir Julian King should be appointed as Commissioner for Security Union. On Tuesday morning, Civil Liberties coordinators met to evaluate the candidate’s performance. Their assessment will now be passed on the Conference of Presidents (President Schulz and leaders of the political groups). If the Conference of Presidents declares the hearing process as closed, the full house will vote on the candidature of Sir Julian King on Thursday at noon.Civil Liberties MEPs are satisfied that the candidate possesses the necessary competence and determination to do the job, he was well prepared for the hearing and understood the challenges of the portfolio, Civil Liberties Committee Chair Claude Moraes (S&D, UK) told the press at a doorstep on Tuesday morning after the coordinators of the Civil Liberties Committee had assessed the candidate’s performance. They were also satisfied that Sir Julian King would act as a guardian of the treaties and in the best interests of the EU, should he be appointed Commissioner for the Security Union.Watch a recording of the doorstep with Claude Moraes HEREBased on the committee´s recommendation, the Conference of Presidents will decide if Parliament has received sufficient information to declare the hearing process closed. If so, the plenary will vote by secret ballot on whether or not to give a green light to Sir Julian King’s appointment.

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Civil Liberties Committee MEPs will quiz UK candidate Commissioner for the Security Union Sir Julian King

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 13 settembre 2016

european parliamentStrasbourg. Based on the committee’s recommendation, Parliament’s Conference of Presidents (EP President and political group leaders) will then decide whether to close the hearing procedure after which the full House can take a vote on Thursday. The hearing is to last three hours, starting at 19.00. It will be open to the press and web-streamed. The Commissioner-designate may make an opening statement of no longer than 15 minutes. There will be two rounds of questions and a five-minute closing statement by the candidate if he so wishes.On Tuesday, Civil Liberties Committee Coordinators will meet (in camera) to assess the outcome of the hearing, after which the evaluation will be put to the Conference of Presidents (CoP – EP President and political group leaders). If the CoP deems the hearing procedure closed, the full House will vote on the candidature by secret ballot on Thursday at noon.As laid down in the Rules of Procedure (Annex XVI), Sir Julian King replied to a written questionnaire prior to the hearing. MEPs are particularly interested in his priorities in the areas of security, coordination with migration, home affairs and citizenship Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, and the implementation of current legislative instruments, in particular as regards information sharing among law enforcement authorities.

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Civil liberties MEPs back visa waivers for Kosovo and Georgia

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 7 settembre 2016

parlamento europeoPlans to grant citizens of Kosovo and Georgia the right to travel to the Schengen area without a visa were backed by Civil Liberties Committee MEPs on Monday. The Committee approved the visa waiver for Kosovo by 25 votes to 24 with 2 abstentions, and that for Georgia by 44 votes to 5. Following the abolition of visas for the citizens of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia in 2009 and for Albania and Bosnia and Hercegovina in 2010, Kosovo was left isolated as the only Balkan country whose citizens still needed a visa to travel to the EU. It started the visa liberalisation process in 2012, four years after all the other countries in its neighbourhood.One of the 95 criteria the country should fulfil before obtaining the visa waiver is to ratify the border agreement with Montenegro, still pending.Parliament´s rapporteur for the proposal, Tanja Fajon (S&D, SI), believes that lifting the visa requirements will send a powerful signal to Kosovars, so that the country does not lose its EU accession hopes and aspirations and thus pursues its stability and democratic reform efforts. Regarding the non-recognition issue (five EU countries do not recognize Kosovo), the draft legislation states that the abolition of visas does not affect the individual positions of the EU member states on Kosovo’s status.
The EU-Georgia visa liberalisation dialogue started in 2012 and by the end of 2015, the EU Commission had concluded that the country had fulfilled all the benchmarks. Mariya Gabriel (EPP, BG), Parliament´s rapporteur for the proposal, believes that the visa waiver is an important instrument for stepping up economic and cultural relations and intensifying political dialogue, including on human rights and fundamental freedoms.More efforts are necessary, however, in areas such as freedom of the media, independence of the judiciary, the fairness of elections and increased participation of women and national minority representatives, says Ms Gabriel.
The Committee approved the opening of negotiations with the Council on the Georgia proposal (with 44 votes in favour, 5 against and 1 abstention), with a view to reaching an agreement at the first reading, as well as the composition of the negotiating team. On Kosovo, MEPs rejected starting talks with the Council, with 24 votes to 25.

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Civil Liberties MEPs visit EASO in Malta

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 20 luglio 2016

maltaA Civil Liberties Committee delegation visits La Valetta (Malta) on Monday and Tuesday 18-19 July to see how the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) supports EU member states’ refugee crisis management work. EASO’s future tasks will also be debated in the light of the recent EU Commission proposal to enhance the agency’s mandate.Other topics to be debated include unaccompanied minors and vulnerable groups and Malta’s upcoming Presidency of the Council (first half of 2017). Members will also meet Home Affairs and National Security Minister Carmelo Abela and hear from the Maltese Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers.The delegation is headed by MEP Cécile Kashetu Kyenge (S&D, IT). Other participants include Helga Stevens (ECR, BE) and Carlos Coelho (EPP, PT).

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