Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 31 n° 301

Posts Tagged ‘Member state of the European Union’

MEPs call for an EU roadmap to protect the fundamental rights of LGBTI people

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 24 dicembre 2013

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wm-license-information-description-missing wm-license-information-description-missing-request European stars.svg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The EU should set up a “comprehensive multiannual policy” to protect the fundamental rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, says the Civil Liberties Committee in a resolution adopted on Tuesday. The Commission and member states should also seek to make citizens aware of the rights of LGBTI persons.
In the 2013 EU LGBT survey, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency found that across the EU in the year preceding the survey one in two LGBT respondents felt discriminated against or harassed on grounds of sexual orientation and one in four were physically attacked.MEPs strongly regret that the fundamental rights of LGBTI people are not yet always fully upheld in the EU and call on the Commission, member states and relevant agencies to work jointly on a comprehensive multiannual policy – i.e. a roadmap, a strategy or an action plan – to protect their fundamental rights. The resolution drafted by Ulrike Lunacek (Greens/EFA, AT), adopted with 40 votes in favour, 2 against and 6 abstentions, sets out a draft canvas for such a comprehensive policy.”Legally, the EU is required to combat discrimination when defining and implementing its policies and activities. This legal requirement is already materialised by comprehensive policies in the field of gender equality, disability and Roma integration. It must now be materialised for grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity”, said Ms Lunacek. 14 EU member states have also signed up for this call, she added: “The Commission will not be able to look away anymore”.The resolution puts forward several themes and objectives that should be addressed in the EU roadmap, in areas as employment, education, health, goods and services, families and freedom of movement, freedom of expression, hate crime, actions specific to transgender and intersex persons, asylum, etc. MEPs also call on member states to adopt the horizontal anti-discrimination directive.Crackdown on criminals who distribute counterfeit euro notes and coins
Distributors of fake euro or other currencies could face tougher penalties under a draft EU law voted in the Civil Liberties Committee on Tuesday. It would require EU countries to set a maximum penalty of no less than eight years in jail for distributors – the same as for forgers – and also allow police to use serious-crime tools, such as intercepting communications, to catch the culprits. Fake euros have cost citizens and firms over €500 million since they came into general use in 2002.The euro is one of the three most-used currencies worldwide, making it a target for organised crime groups which specialise in forging money. Innocent citizens and firms currently bear the costs of fake euro, because they are not reimbursed.”Counterfeiting of any currency should be taken as a very serious crime. We all want to see this crime vigorously prosecuted in every country”, said rapporteur Anthea McIntyre (ECR, UK) in a debate in committee.Since 2000, the maximum penalty set by EU law for currency forgers has been no less than eight years’ imprisonment. The new draft law would extend this rule to include fake currency distributors.

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Parliament calls for humanitarian conference on Syrian refugee crisis

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 12 ottobre 2013

The EU should convene a humanitarian conference aimed at helping Syria’s neighbouring countries to cope with the still-growing influx of refugees, said the European Parliament in a resolution passed on Wednesday. MEPs urged the EU to go on providing humanitarian aid and support to refugees and to guarantee them safe entry and access to fair asylum procedures in the EU.The humanitarian conference on the Syrian refugee crisis should explore ways to help refugee host countries in the region (in particular Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq) to cope with still-growing refugee populations and to keep their borders open to all Syrian refugees, MEPs say. Thousands of Syrians flee to neighbouring countries every day. The UN forecasts that 3.5 million refugees will have left Syria by the end of 2013.Besides humanitarian aid, the conference should also focus on strengthening the EU’s role and involvement in diplomatic efforts to help end the conflict in Syria, adds the text.Speaking for the European Commission in the debate, Commissioner Barnier agreed to the organisation of such a conference.
Parliament calls on the EU, as the largest humanitarian aid donor in the Syrian crisis, to “continue its generous funding” to meet the needs of the Syrian people.Member states should explore all existing EU laws and procedures to provide a safe entry into the EU to temporarily admit Syrians fleeing their country, says Parliament, welcoming the general consensus among EU member states that Syrian nationals should not be returned.Refugees should have “access to fair and efficient asylum procedures” in the EU, say MEPs, who also reiterate the need for more solidarity among member states with those facing particular pressure to receive refugees.Parliament points out that “member states are required to come to the assistance of migrants at sea”, and calls on those which have failed to abide by their international obligations to stop turning back boats with migrants on board.EU countries are encouraged to make full use of money to be made available from the Asylum and Migration Fund and the Preparatory Action to “Enable the resettlement of refugees during emergency situations”.The resolution encourages EU countries “to address acute needs through resettlement”, in addition to existing national quotas and through humanitarian admission.The possible influx of refugees into EU member states requires “responsible measures“, say MEPs, who call on them and the EU Commission to work on contingency planning, including the possibility of applying the Temporary Protection Directive, “if and when conditions demand it”.Under this 2001 directive, which so far has never been triggered, refugees would be granted a residence permit for the entire duration of the protection period, as well as access to employment and accommodation.

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US-led CIA rendition and secret detention programmes: impunity must end

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 12 ottobre 2013

The climate of impunity surrounding EU member states’ complicity in the CIA’s secret “rendition” and detention programmes has allowed violations of fundamental rights to continue unchecked, as revealed by mass surveillance programmes run by the US and some EU member states, said the European Parliament on Thursday. MEPs want Parliament’s right to investigate such violations in the EU to be reinforced, and again urge EU institutions and member states to investigate the CIA operations in depth.MEPs are “highly disappointed” by the Commission’s refusal to respond in substance to the recommendations made by Parliament in its September 2012 resolution on the follow-up to the work of its Temporary Committee on the CIA’s alleged use of European countries for the transportation and illegal detention of prisoners. These recommendations are reiterated in this year’s resolution. For example, MEPs again urge the Commission to investigate whether EU rules were breached by collaboration with the CIA programme.Parliament also reiterates its recommendations to the Council, urging it to issue a declaration acknowledging member states’ involvement in the CIA programme.The resolution makes specific calls on Lithuania, Romania, Poland, the UK, Italy, Finland, France, Sweden, Belgium, Greece, Ireland, Latvia and Slovakia. For example, it asks the UK authorities to establish a “human-rights-compliant inquiry” into the rendition, torture and ill-treatment of detainees abroad.

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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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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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Europe at the polls. Lessons from the 2013 Italian elections

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 28 maggio 2013

One of the interesting aspects of the 2013 elections in Italy is that they appear to innovate in several respects. Since they unfolded during a severe economic crisis, in which EU austerity policies had created strong discontent, European issues could not be ignored. Some of the race’s major themes revolved around the policies candidates intended to pursue vis-à-vis the EU if they were elected. ‘European-level parties’ and their representatives in European institutions played a meaningful role in several instances. Other member states closely followed the elections, and several foreign leaders even voiced their preference. Considerations related to European issues also seem to have influenced the choice of various groups of voters. All this transformed the nature of the election, which became an important moment in European political life. It is still too soon to assess the consequences at the EU level. Yet one can only be struck by the fact that this ‘Europeanisation’ pattern replicates developments that occurred in the 2012 elections in countries like France and Greece.

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MEPs favour police access to asylum seekers’ fingerprints, subject to safeguards

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 11 gennaio 2013

European Union

European Union (Photo credit: ana branca)

EU law enforcement authorities, such as the police or Europol, should be given access to asylum seekers’ fingerprints in the Eurodac data base, but only if their personal data are properly protected, said the Civil Liberties Committee on Monday. Eurodac stores the fingerprints of asylum seekers aged over 14. Since 2003 it has been used to help determine which EU member state is responsible, under the Dublin regulation, for dealing with asylum applications made to EU or Dublin Associated States, i.e. Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
To address data protection concerns and help combat terrorism and serious crime, the European Commission proposed in May 2012, at the member states’ request, to update Eurodac rules to allow national law enforcement authorities such as the police and Europol, to compare fingerprints held in their own databases with those contained in Eurodac. “This regulation will increase safety in the EU. In cases of terrorism or serious crime, law enforcement authorities in member states will be able to compare fingerprints from crime scenes with those stored in Eurodac for a more efficient and quick identification of suspects, victims and witnesses”, explained rapporteur Monica Luisa Macovei after the committee vote.
MEPs voted in favour of giving police the access to Eurodac, but first inserted stricter safeguards than originally proposed to protect asylum seekers’ data and ensure that they know that these data could be used not only for identification, but also for law enforcement purposes. The committee text points out that Eurodac “registers fingerprint data of persons to whom a legal presumption applies that they have a clear criminal record”. The committee’s amendments stipulate that comparing fingerprints for law enforcement purposes would possible only to prevent, detect or investigate specific cases of terrorist offences or other serious criminal offences where “there is an overriding public security concern which makes proportionate the querying of the database”.
In such cases, an authority would be designated at national level to request, via an electronic form, a comparison of fingerprint data with those stored in Eurodac. If approved, the designated authority could then access Eurodac via a national access point. A verifying national authority would first check that the conditions for requesting such access are met. Both authorities may be part of the same organisation, but the verifying body should act independently and not receive instructions from the other authority, say MEPs.The temporary or permanent impossibility of providing usable fingerprints should not adversely affect a person’s legal situation and neither should it constitute sufficient grounds to refuse to examine or to reject an international protection application, stressed the committee.
The Civil Liberties Committee adopted its position on Eurodac by 41 votes to 11 with 4 abstentions. The vote gives rapporteur a mandate to start talks with the Council, on 18 December.

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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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Strengthen internal security while protecting fundamental rights, say MEPs

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 24 maggio 2012

Fundamental rights should be respected in all instances when applying the EU’s Internal Security Strategy, says a resolution adopted by Parliament on Tuesday. MEPs also want proper funding for this strategy in the 2014-2020 financial framework.In November 2010, the Commission tabled a communication setting out guidelines for a new common EU Internal Security Strategy (ISS). The aim is to step up the fight against organised crime, terrorism and cybercrime, improve the management of external borders and respond better to natural or man-made disasters.
Protecting fundamental rights
All measures taken to implement the ISS “have to comply with the Union’s fundamental rights and obligations” and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, underlines the resolution. MEPs also stress that the EU must ensure respect for human rights in the fight against terrorism if it is to be a “credible” international player.
Terrorism and organised crime, key priorities
The fight against terrorism and organised crime – including mafias, white collar crime, fiscal fraud and corruption-, must remain a key priority, say MEPs, who also highlight the need to freeze the funds of suspected terrorists.
Furthermore, the EU must focus on targeted law enforcement and intelligence-driven operations to prevent terrorist attacks. Member States are urged to develop mechanisms to detect and prevent violent radicalisation and threats, especially in “vulnerable populations”.

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Schengen: stricter EU rules to prevent illegal border checks

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 30 novembre 2011

MEPs examine re-imposition of border checks in...

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A proposed EU-based system to monitor any attempt by Member States to introduce illegal checks at the EU’s internal borders was backed by the Civil Liberties Committee on Tuesday. It says that where a Member State seriously neglects its duty to enforce external border controls, despite EU support, specific measures, including closing a specific border crossing point with another Schengen country, could be taken “as a last resort”. Every year, EU citizens make over 1.25 billion journeys as tourists and or to visit friends and relatives across the EU without being held up by checks at its internal borders. The Schengen area also allows free movement for EU workers and third-country nationals legally staying within it. The new “Schengen evaluation and monitoring mechanism”, which takes up most of Parliament’s demands, is designed to maintain Member States’ mutual trust in their capacity to apply all Schengen provisions effectively and efficiently, thus making it possible to maintain a check-free zone. The current draft law – part of the Schengen governance package presented by the Commission in September and building on a previous (2010) proposal – aims to strengthen the existing mechanism for verifying Member States’ compliance with Schengen rules.”The new mechanism should help to reinforce the free movement of persons, be able to monitor any attempt to introduce illegal checks at internal borders, and to help to reinforce mutual trust by ensuring an effective control of the external borders by each Member State”, underlined Civil Liberties Committee rapporteur, Carlos Coelho (EPP, PT). Mr Coelho welcomed the Commission proposal as providing a legal basis that requires the use of the Parliament/Council co-decision procedure.
The new proposal would step up the frequency of on-the-spot inspections and introduce unannounced visits by Commission-led teams and experts from other Member States to verify that Member States are not imposing internal border checks in breach of Schengen rules.
Should a serious deficiency be found in the way that Schengen rules are enforced at external borders, support should be provided to the Member State concerned for a period of six months, MEPs say, including the help of the EU’s Frontex border agency and other EU agencies.This Civil Liberties Committee orientation vote gives Parliament’s rapporteur a mandate to start negotiations with Council.

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A “letter of rights” to ensure fair trials for those deprived of their liberty Justice and Home Affairs

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 25 novembre 2011

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Anyone suspected or accused of having committed a crime in the EU must be promptly informed of his or her procedural rights in easy-to-understand language, says a draft law endorsed by the Civil Liberties Committee on Wednesday. Any suspect who is then arrested or detained must also be given a written “letter of rights”, adds the draft, to which MEPs added the right to remain silent, the right to urgent medical care and the right to contact relatives.Today, citizens arrested and charged with a criminal offence cannot be certain that they will be properly informed of their rights everywhere in the EU. In some Member States, they receive only oral information about their procedural rights, whilst in others the information is given in writing, but is technical, complex and provided only on request. This draft directive, already agreed with Member State governments, provides EU-wide minimum standards to ensure the right to information in criminal proceedings.Any person suspected or accused of having committed a crime must be promptly provided with information on at least the following procedural rights:
· the right of access to a lawyer,
· any entitlement to legal advice free of charge and the conditions for obtaining it,
· the right to be informed of the accusation,
· the right to interpretation and translation; and
· the right to remain silent.
This information must be provided either orally or in writing and in simple and accessible language, taking into account any particular need of vulnerable people. A suspect must be informed of what criminal act he or she is suspected of having committed “at the latest” before the first official interview by the police. The authorities will be obliged to give anyone who is arrested or detained, or is the subject of a European Arrest Warrant, written information in the form of a “letter of rights”. In addition to the rights mentioned above, the letter must give the arrested person information on
· the right to access to the materials of the case,
· the right to have consular authorities and one person informed (for example, a family member or employer),
· the right of access to urgent medical assistance, and
· the right to know for how many hours/days he may be deprived of liberty before being brought before a judicial authority.
The letter of rights must also give basic information about any possibility to challenge the lawfulness of the arrest, to obtain a review of the detention, or to apply for provisional release. The draft law provides for an indicative model of such a letter of rights. Member States may amend this model to align it with their national rules and add further useful information.Member States must also ensure that a suspected or accused person or his or her lawyer has the right to challenge a failure or refusal by the competent authorities to provide the information required by this directive.
An important information right provided for in the draft law is the right to have access to the materials of the case which are essential to challenge the lawfulness of the arrest or detention effectively. Access to these materials may be refused only “if it may lead to serious risk to the life or fundamental rights of another person or if it is strictly necessary to safeguard an important public interest”, e.g. in cases where it risks prejudicing an ongoing investigation, or where it may seriously harm the national security of the Member State. The decision not to disclose these materials should be taken by a judicial authority or be at least subject to judicial review.This draft law should apply to suspected and accused persons regardless of their legal status, citizenship or nationality, MEPs add.
The draft law should be put to a vote by the full Parliament in December 2011 and then needs to be formally endorsed by the EU Council of Ministers. Once adopted, Member States will have two years to transpose it into their national laws.
The UK and Ireland have notified their wish to take part in the adoption and application of this directive. Denmark is the only Member State not taking part.There are over 8 million criminal proceedings in the EU every year. Together with the directive on the right to translation and interpretation, adopted last year, the draft directive on the right to information in criminal proceedings is one in a series of fair trial measures that aims to boost confidence in the EU’s single area of justice. A third proposal, to guarantee access to a lawyer, is currently under discussion in the Civil Liberties Committee.

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