Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 32 n° 250

Posts Tagged ‘Member of the European Parliament’

European Parliament votes in favour of basic bank accounts as legal right

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 13 dicembre 2013

English: A Committee Room in the European Parl...

English: A Committee Room in the European Parliament (Brussels) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The European Parliament voted today[1] to give the right of access to a basic bank account at little or no cost to up to 30 million EU residents who want an account but who have not so far been able to obtain one.Holders of a basic account will be able to lodge and withdraw money at bank branches and ATMs, transfer money and make payments online, but will not have access to overdrafts.
EUFFI president Jim Murray strongly welcomed today’s developments and said “This vote will help those who are “living the single market” by studying, working or living cross-border, and many others who for one reason or another have no bank account where they live. Nowadays, for most people a bank account is a gateway to other services and an essential element for full participation in modern society. I congratulate the rapporteur, German MEP Jurgen Klute, and his parliamentary colleagues for this progressive vote. ”Supporting and extending the Commission’s proposal, the parliament recommends that Member States should require payment service providers generally to offer a basic payment account option to those who need it. The report also calls on Member States to take measures to raise awareness regarding the availability of the accounts, especially in relation to unbanked, vulnerable and mobile consumers.At the launch of the EUFFI study on new payment technologies in June 2013, Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services, Michel Barnier, stressed the importance of financial inclusion, adding that “there can be no sustainable economic development if there is no social cohesion.”Focus now turns to the Member States of the EU, who under the co-decision making process also need to agree before the act can be formally adopted. The Lithuanian Presidency has been holding regular meetings to discuss the dossier, and it is hoped that a general approach will be agreed in the coming weeks.

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MEPs not convinced by positive reports of data exchange deals with the US

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 28 novembre 2013

Civil Liberties MEPs criticised Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström for “ignoring” Parliament’s call to suspend the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) deal with the US, in a debate on Wednesday. Most speakers asked for proof that the US had not breached the agreement and called for a data extraction system on EU soil to avoid sending bulk data to the US.”I have received no evidence that the TFTP agreement has been breached,” the Commissioner told MEPs, stressing that the entire College of Commissioners had decided on Wednesday to close the consultations with the US on the implementation of the TFTP agreement.”We cannot accept that the Commission simply ignores Parliament’s request” to suspend the TFTP agreement. This is a “severe interinstitutional problem”, said Jan Philipp Albrecht (Greens/EFA, DE).”Before we close this chapter, we need to have an answer to these allegations,” Claude Moraes (S&D, UK) said. Sophie in’t Veld (ALDE, NL) echoed Mr Albrecht’s criticism and stressed: “I am not reassured at all. This chapter cannot be closed.”

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Mass storage of data breaches EU and international laws,experts tell EP inquiry

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 17 ottobre 2013

European Union

European Union (Photo credit: ana branca)

Mass storage of EU citizens’ personal data contravenes international, Council of Europe and EU laws, experts told the Civil Liberties Committee on Monday, at the 7th inquiry hearing on US and EU countries’ surveillance schemes. MEPs debated various means of redress for citizens and heard from European privacy organisations that have brought those behind surveillance activities to justice.”There is grave danger that it becomes publicly accepted that privacy is dead”, said former UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, Martin Scheinin, pointing out that the US and UK practices of electronic mass surveillance are in breach of Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).The EP should consider pushing for an “inter-state complaint mechanism” against both countries for not respecting the legal text. “I would not be surprised if certain Latin-American countries considered an inter-state complaint, so why shouldn’t the Europeans do the same thing?”, said Mr Scheinin. Replying to a question by MEP Axel Voss (EPP, DE), he also clarified that the EU, not being part of the covenant, cannot lodge a complaint and, therefore, it is up to individual states to do so.

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President François Di Salvo, Leader of the European Movement for Citizens announces his candidacy for the European elections and succession as President of the European Parliament

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 12 ottobre 2013

Di SalvoValence / Brussels The President of the European political party “European Movement for Citizens” opens the great chapter of European issues after the elections in May 2014. He also took the opportunity to declare his candidacy to succeed Martin Schulz, the current President of the European Parliament.”Europe cannot be the ground of every soft consensus and the peaceful market like Tatie’s mall as it used to be in the past decade. Europe really needs to regain the self-confidence of its 748 million neo- citizens. She needs to offer a route, a trend and a new face».It is in these terms that François Di Salvo opened the matter of the European newfound dignity. This decision is timely because it seeks to ensure the interests of European citizens and promote the emergence of a real participatory democracy.The upheaval period would certainly not occur from any official elected to the European Institutions today”, he added. Indeed, the MEP motivations are lower than the virtually democratic aspirations that each representative, from left wing and to right one, refers when the time is right and appointment with the voters is nearly to happen.Who can trust, for instance, the willingness of a President of the European Economic and Social Committee to really ignore that asserts he ignores “the views of the elites” when everybody knows that he is appointed ​​by the same “harem” which dictates his conduct ? Who can give credit to the President of Parliament when he refuses most of the time a direct meeting with civil society, or refrains from any action that modifies the political principles of his own institution? (Di salvo)

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MEPs raise suspension of EU-US bank data deal

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 25 settembre 2013

United States Capitol

United States Capitol (Photo credit: Jack in DC)

MEPs raised the possibility of suspending or even terminating the EU-US Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP), during the discussion on Tuesday about the NSA’s alleged tapping of the SWIFT company’s international bank-transfer data at the Civil Liberties Committee’s third hearing on US and EU countries’ surveillance schemes.Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmström told MEPs that she had not yet received satisfactory replies from the US authorities concerning the allegations. She said she had written to US Treasury Under Secretary David Cohen on 12 September to ask for clarifications, following the allegations in the press that the NSA had been tapping into personal financial data from SWIFT’s international bank-transfer database.
“I am not satisfied with the answers I got so far,” Ms Malmström told MEPs. “We need more information and clarity,” she said, adding that the Commission had requested formal consultations with the US under Article 19 of the TFTP agreement.Sophie in’ t Veld (ALDE, NL) agreed that the answers from the US were not sufficient. “For me the [TFTP] agreement is effectively dead (…) it is null and void,” she said, adding: “Approving an international agreement is like signing a blank check. (…) The only reason I had to support it no longer exists.”Other MEPs also raised the possibility of suspending or terminating the TFTP agreement. “Would you agree to suspend the agreement given the unclear answers from the US?” asked the committee rapporteur for the inquiry, Claude Moraes (S&D, UK). Parliament’s rapporteur for the TFTP deal, Alexander Alvaro (ALDE, DE), said that he would be in favour of suspension as a “minimum option”.Axel Voss (EPP, DE), said: “At this point we cannot simply withdraw” from the deal. “If media reports are true this constitutes a breach of the agreement and a breach of the agreement can lead to suspension,” replied Ms Malmström, clarifying that a decision to maintain or suspend the TFTP agreement “is a very serious one”.If after analysing all the information, the Commission deemed it necessary to propose a suspension, “this should be decided by qualified majority in the Council,” she said

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Parliament calls for EU guidelines to protect unaccompanied minors

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 15 settembre 2013

Collectively, the EU is the largest contributo...

Collectively, the EU is the largest contributor of foreign aid in the world. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The European Commission should propose strategic guidelines for dealing with unaccompanied minors arriving in the EU, to ensure their full protection until a durable solution has been found for them, says a resolution adopted by the European Parliament on Thursday. MEPs stress that no child may be denied access to the EU territory, deplore the use of “unsuitable and intrusive” techniques for age assessment and call on member states to appoint a guardian for each child entering the EU alone.The common strategic guidelines on unaccompanied minors would cover issues such as the procedures needed to guarantee the child’s rights and the cooperation between the EU and the countries of origin to combat trafficking and irregular immigration and restore family ties.
“Unaccompanied minors’ rights are not always respected in EU member states, too often they are dealt with as adult irregular migrants and their vulnerabilities, specific needs and rights are not taken into account”, said rapporteur Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE, FR) during the plenary debate. “Most of them are fleeing their countries to escape from war, violence, prosecution, poverty and natural disasters. They may also be victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation. These children by nature are vulnerable and it is our duty to do more for them”, she added.

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Parliament to launch in-depth inquiry into US surveillance programmes

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 5 luglio 2013

Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee will conduct an “in-depth inquiry” into the US surveillance programmes, including the bugging of EU premises and other spying allegations, and present its results by the end of this year, says a resolution passed by the full House on Thursday. The Parliament President and political group leaders formally confirmed the launch of the inquiry. MEPs also call for more protection for whistleblowers.In the resolution, approved by 483 votes to 98 with 65 abstentions, MEPs express serious concern over PRISM and other surveillance programmes, strongly condemn spying on EU representations and call on the US authorities to provide them with full information on these allegations without further delay.Parliament also expresses grave concern about allegations that similar surveillance programmes are run by several EU member states, such as the UK, Sweden, The Netherlands, Germany and Poland. It urges them to examine whether those programmes are compatible with EU law.The Civil Liberties Committee inquiry will gather information and evidence from both US and EU sources and present its conclusions in a resolution by the end of the year. It will assess the impact of the alleged surveillance activities on EU citizens’ right to privacy and data protection, freedom of expression, the presumption of innocence and the right to an effective remedy.MEPs involved in the inquiry will table recommendations to prevent similar cases in future and step up IT security in the EU institutions, bodies and agencies.MEPs stress the need for “procedures allowing whistleblowers to unveil serious violations of fundamental rights” and the importance of providing such people with the protection they need, including at international level.MEPs call on the European Commission, the Council of Ministers and EU countries to consider possible recourse to all levers at their disposal in negotiations with the US, including suspending the current air passenger and bank data deals (Passenger Name Record and Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme, respectively).EU data protection standards should not be undermined as a result of the EU-US trade deal, warns the resolution, adding that it would be “unfortunate” if EU-US trade talks were to be affected by such allegations.Parliament calls on EU countries to speed up their work on the whole data protection package and urges the Commission and the US authorities to resume negotiations on the data protection agreement without delay. The final deal must ensure that EU citizens’ access to the US judicial system is equal to that enjoyed by US citizens, it adds.

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MEPs discuss US NSA surveillance with Council and Commission Quotes from the debate

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 4 luglio 2013

Parliament discussed on Tuesday US NSA surveillance programmes and other surveillance schemes in EU countries. You will find below the quotes from the first round of speakers.Vytautas Leškevičius, Vice Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Lithuania, on behalf of the Council”It would not be appropriate from me to speculate until we have a full response from the US authorities”.”If these allegations prove to be true, the Lithuanian Presidency would be extremely concerned on any spying activities on European nations”. “This doesn’t seem to be a case of transfers of data as understood on the data protection proposals”.”It would be very unlikely that EU legislation would be able to address the issue of data of European citizens handled for foreign countries for intelligence purposes. (…) It is doubtful that these proposals can provide an adequate response”. “Should be confirmed that any spying activities have taken place, we should condemn them in strong terms and raise questions regarding the privacy of our citizens. However, this should happen through dialogue”.Concerning diplomatic relations, she said that “this throws a shadow on the trust indispensable between partners”. “Negotiations between partners need to be transparent and open, and this excludes spying institutions”, she added.She confirmed that not all questions have been answered so far. “I have written together with Commissioner Malmström to our US counterparts asking about the scope of the programmes and their judicial oversight”.Regarding the set-up of the translatlantic group of experts, she confirmed that US Attorney General Eric Holder yesterday committed himself in a letter to convene the first meeting this month and a second one will take place in September in Washington. “The Commission will report on the results of the meetings to Parliament”, she pointed out.

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European Parliament backs Schengen reform deal

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 13 giugno 2013

Freedom of movement within the Schengen area will be better protected thanks to MEPs’ input to the new Schengen governance rules. Inspection teams will in future be able to make unannounced visits to internal borders to halt any attempt to impose illegal checks. Free movement is the most positive outcome of 50 years of EU integration, said 62% of respondents to a recent Eurobarometer survey. The Schengen governance package, already agreed informally by Parliament and Council negotiators and endorsed by the full House on Wednesday, includes two regulations. One establishes a new EU-based Schengen evaluation mechanism to deal with critical situations and the other amends the Schengen Borders Code to lay down common rules for the temporary re-imposition of checks at internal borders in exceptional cases.For the first time, it will be possible for inspection teams to make unannounced visits to monitor any attempt to introduce illegal border checks at internal borders. When the teams visit external borders, the member state concerned should be notified 24 hours in advance. Inspection teams will include experts from the member states, the Commission and EU agencies and bodies.
The Schengen Borders Code (SBC) already allows internal border checks to be temporarily reimposed in exceptional circumstances that could constitute a serious threat to public policy or internal security.
The amended SBC stresses that any reintroduction of border controls at internal borders should remain an exception and should take place only as a measure of last resort, for a strictly limited scope and period of time, based on specific objective criteria and on an assessment of its necessity which should be monitored at Union level.In the event of a serious threat to public policy or internal security, checks could be reimposed for 30 days, and prolonged for up to six months. Where unforeseeable events require immediate action (e.g.. a terrorist attack), member states could re-impose border checks unilaterally, for up to 10 days. Any prolongation would have to be monitored at EU level.
“Migration and the crossing of external borders by a large number of third-country nationals should not, per se, be considered to be a threat to public policy or to internal security,” says the text.
Schengen candidate countries and those that are already members of the check-free area will be evaluated in the same way and subject to the same rules).The Schengen governance package is expected to be adopted formally by the Council in the autumn.Result of the votes: Schengen evaluation mechanism (Coelho report) adopted by 526 votes in favour, 101 against and 55abstentions; amendment to the Schengen Borders Code for the temporary reimposition of checks at internal borders in exceptional cases (Weber report) adopted by 506 votes in favour, 121against and 55 abstentions.

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Rise of extremist parties and media freedom

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 14 dicembre 2012

MEPs are concerned about the rise of political parties which are openly racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic, owing to the economic and social crisis. They therefore call on EU countries to prosecute all forms of violence and hatred against any minority groups,including hate speech. Finally, they deplore the deterioration of media freedom and pluralism in the EU and condemn the obstacles that some journalists face when covering demonstrations.

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EP delegation calls for full investigation of possible CIA prisons in Europe

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 28 aprile 2012

The European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee delegation visiting Lithuania stressed the need to investigate the allegations of secret detention sites in Europe as fully as possible.The delegation consisted of the Committee chairman Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES), EP rapporteur on the issue Hélène Flautre (Greens/EFA, FR), vice-chair of the EP delegation for relations with the US Sarah Ludford (ALDE, UK), Tanja Fajon (S&D, SL), Michèle Striffler (EPP, FR) and Ana Gomes (S&D, PT).During their visit to Lithuania, MEPs met with the prosecutors involved in the pre-trial investigation, as well as representatives of the Lithuanian Presidency, Parliament, Justice and Foreign ministries, Human Rights Monitoring Institute and Civil Aviation Administration. They also visited a secret site near Vilnius, which allegedly was suitable for illegal detention.
In a press conference on Friday, MEPs gave credit to Lithuania for taking the courage to investigate the matter, yet also stressed the need to answer remaining questions. According to Hélène Flautre, not only Lithuania but also other countries involved have a duty to investigate the matter fully, as the alleged crimes, such as illegal transfer and detention of people, and possibly also torture, constitute serious human rights violations. “State secrecy is no excuse for human rights abuse”, added Sarah Ludford. Meanwhile, Ana Gomes called for improving national and European control of civil aviation, particularly of non-regular flights.
Chairman of the National Security and Defence Committee of the Lithuanian parliament (Seimas) Arvydas Anušauskas stressed that the parliamentary investigation found no evidence of illegal detention of any persons in Lithuania, while the oversight of intelligence activities in the country has been improved since then. “As for the remaining questions, it is up to the US authorities to answer them”, he said. Sarah Ludford promised to take up the issue with US officials. “We, MEPs, will play our part, with full respect for national sovereignty”, she added.

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Prisoners’ rights: MEPs call for EU common standards for detention conditions Civil Liberties

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 17 dicembre 2011

European Union

Image by ana branca via Flickr

Urgent measures are needed to remedy the “alarming” state of prisons across the EU, says Parliament in a resolution passed on Thursday. MEPs call for action to protect prisoners’ fundamental rights and minimum common standards for detention conditions in all EU countries.MEPs call on the Commission to table a law on the rights of persons deprived of their liberty and minimum standards for prison and detention conditions, and also uniform standards for the compensation of persons unjustly detained or convicted. An “alarming picture” of prison overcrowding, a growing prison population, ever more foreign nationals being held, large numbers of pre-trial detainees, detainees with mental and psychological disorders and many cases of death and suicide, is painted in the Commission’s June 2011 “Green Paper on the application of EU criminal justice legislation in the field of detention”, MEPs note. Prison conditions must be consistent with human dignity and the rights of suspects or accused persons must be guaranteed, including the right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment, Parliament stresses.Pre-trial detention must remain an exceptional measure to be used under strict conditions and for a limited period of time, it adds. Providing decent conditions for prisoners and granting them access to schemes to prepare them for a return to society should also help to reduce the likelihood that they will re-offend, MEPs say. One problem that Member States often point to is a lack of resources to improve prison conditions. MEPs therefore call for a specific EU budget heading to be created with a view to encouraging them to comply with high standards.
Parliament calls for measures to be taken at EU level to grant national MPs and MEPs the right to visit prisons anywhere in the EU. Ensuring mutual confidence among Member States in this area is crucial, since the number of Member State nationals held in another Member State may rise as a result of the judicial cooperation among Member States in criminal matters, say MEPs. The total prison population of the EU was estimated at 633,909 for 2009-2010. According to the Green Paper, prison overcrowding is a serious concern in 13 Member States, with the highest overcrowding rates reported in Bulgaria, Italy, Cyprus, Spain and Greece. The EU countries with the highest percentages of foreign nationals being held in prisons are Luxembourg, Cyprus, Austria, Greece and Belgium. The highest percentages of pre-trial detainees are held in Luxembourg, Italy and Cyprus.

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