Mos Maiorum: MEPs raise concerns over transparency, lack of information from the Council and over Frontex involvement
Mr Benedetto Della Vedova, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, represented the talian Presidency of the Council of the European Union
Echoes from MEPs: Fundamental Rights implications, concerns over profiling on ethnic origin (MEP Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar). No clarity on conditions of Joint Operation (JO) and of custody of irregular migrants (MEP Kostas Chrysogonos). MEPs Fundamental Rights Agency sent practical guidelines on fundamental rights during operations (MEP Roberta Metsola). Concerns were raised over the rights of unaccompanied minors and the need for transparency and a better involvement of the European Parliament (MEP Caterina Chinnici). Problems concerning Dublin Regulation, this operation will result in migrants being sent back to border countries, we need to have a unified European response, responsibility sharing without burden dumping (MEP Miriam Dalli). These JO need to be subject to democratic controls by both the European and National Parliaments (MEP Kati Piri). Some MEPs welcomed the JO as an effort to combat organised crime and the need for consistency of data collection, nevertheless underlining the need to respect fundamental rights (MEP Therese Comodini Cachia). Criticism of Dublin II as a wrong method for European policy that has turned countries into storage area for migrants in certain countries (MEP Notis Marias Head of ECR).
This is not a new operation but what is new is that we have been informed about this operation. ‘Guessing’ what people might be guilty of leads to racism and xenophobia. It is shameful that the Council of the European Union does not share more information on this operation (MEP Soraya Post).
Closing remarks from Mr Della Vedova: The Council affirms the strict use of proportionate and necessary means within the scope of the JO without compromising rights of citizens. The rules for the conduct of the operation are not discriminatory and there is no association with gender, nationality or age etc. of people concerned. This operation will help us to dismantle illegal networks and in turn protect vulnerable groups.
EU Data Protection: Giovanni Buttarelli as new European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS)
Last Tuesday 21st October the LIBE Committee chose Italian Giovanni Buttarelli for the EDPS position after the Monday hearings in Strasbourg. Buttarelli has been until present the EDPS assistant under the current EDPS Peter Hustinx. The favourite for the post of EDPS assistant was Mr Wojciech Wiewiorowski. The list of candidates will now be discussed and finalised at the Council of Ministers. This appointment comes at a time when the current EU data protection framework is undergoing reform.
Budget/Justice & Home Affairs: MEPs withhold € 3.8 million from European Commission in Plenary vote
Last week the European Parliament voted on new provisions for the European Commission’s 2015 budget, which saw MEPs withhold € 3.8 million as budget MEPs called for improved efforts for greater transparency. MEPs followed ahead with this ‘budget suspension’ amidst concerns that the daily workings of the European Commission are more than often influenced by business and industry interests. The EP expects the Executive body to work more closely with MEPs in efforts to increase “Informal Dialogue” and ensure that expert groups are not only transparent but therefore become more accountable. This criticism is by no means a new development as the Commission has often outsourced ‘expertise’ to external stakeholders and corporate lobbyists. German Green MEP Helga Trupel has been a key figure in voicing these concerns from the European Parliament.
Justice & Home Affairs: Greek Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos assigned citizenship portfolio
On Wednesday 22nd October European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker assigned Mr. Avramopoulos with the portfolio of European Citizenship in addition to his role of Commissioner for Migration and Home Affaires. The late modification resulted from recent criticism of the Hungarian candidate Mr Tibor Navracsics. MEPs rejected Mr Navracsics during the Commission hearings from the post of Education and Culture amidst wide-spread criticism of alleged fundamental rights abuses in Hungary.
Avramopoulos, as Greece’s former Foreign Affairs Minister, current Defence Minister and an EPP member has therefore been assigned the portfolio of Migration, Fundamental Rights and Home Affairs. Nevertheless, the new Greek Commissioner has not gone without criticism as there has been great concern over Greece’s treatment of undocumented migrants. This has been highlighted recently after the European Court of Human Rights condemned both Italy and Greece’s treatment of irregular migrants and asylum seekers. Responding to a question on the detention of unaccompanied minors, Avramopoulos stated that minors should not be detained with adults. He didn’t however question whether minors should be detailed at all.
Underlining that security in Europe should not lead to the establishment of a ‘Fortress Europe’ and that fundamental rights should be accounted for, the new Migration and Home Commissioner will have a hard task to make this statement hold true; Greece’s 12.5 km long barbed wire “fence” was completed in 2012 on Greece’s border with Turkey and is accompanied by EUROSUR surveillance technology in an aim to combat illegal border crossings.