Free News: 9th January 2015

JHA (Security, Terrorism):  Mogherini pledges ‘concrete action’ in response to Paris attack (EURACTIV)

European Union governments and officials are discussing responses to the killing of French journalists in Paris and could propose new policies in the coming weeks, officials said on Thursday (8 January). “We must, in the days to come, make sure that this pain transforms itself into concrete actions,” the bloc’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told a news conference in Riga. “With the pain, we have already begun to work on the response,” she said, speaking in French. The EU’s foreign policy chief was speaking after a meeting between the European Commission and the Latvian government, which has taken over the rotating presidency of ministerial councils.


Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who had also travelled to Riga, said, however, that it was premature to make decisions. Speaking to the press alongside Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma, Juncker said this was a moment of silence for Europe. “I know from experience we should not react on the next day of such events by tabling proposals, because we risk making mistakes. The Commission has pledged to present a new program of fight against terrorism in the weeks to come,” Juncker commented.

Efforts should be made, Juncker said, to improve coordination among national governments and security agencies. He emphasized that that fight against terrorism is primarily a member state competence, but added that “interconnections” must be but in place between national authorities to fight against terrorism, “in a preemptive way”.


Read the full article here


“Next EU summit to focus on anti-terrorism measures” (EUObserver)

The EU’s 12 February summit is to focus on how to strengthen anti-terrorism measures, EU council president Donald Tusk has said. The summit should “discuss more broadly the response the EU can bring to these challenges,” said Tusk, referring to the Paris attack and the “vulnerability” of nations.


JHA (Integration): “Amid rising racism, Muslims embrace German values” (EURACTIV)


“For Muslims, Germany has become a home. But they see themselves being confronted by a negative image, defined by a minority of radical Islamists,” said Yasemin El-Menouar, an Islam analyst at the Bertelsmann Foundation.

1 in 4 support an entry ban for Muslims

Meanwhile, 61% of German citizens believe Islam does not fit in the Western world. In 2012, only 52% shared these feelings. 40% of those surveyed said Muslims have caused them to feel foreign in their own country. 1 in 4 respondents even supports a ban on immigration of Muslims to Germany. A trend that becomes clear in the study, is that the less often people come into contact with Muslims, the higher their scepticism and rejection. In North Rhine-Westphalia, where one-third of Muslims live, 46% of Germans feel threatened. In the states of Thuringia and Sachsen, where hardly any Muslims live, 70% showed a negative response.

On the other hand, widespread Islamophobia is in stark contrast to the strong solidarity felt by Muslims in Germany. A majority of the 4 million believers in Islam in Germany consider themselves a part of the nation. Their mindsets and views are strongly oriented according to the basic values of the Federal Republic of Germany, such as democracy and plurality. 90% of highly religious Muslims consider democracy to be a good form of governance. Of those surveyed, 9 out of 10 are in contact with non-Muslims in their free time. 1 in 2 even had as many contacts outside of their religious community as they did Muslim contacts.

According to the authors of the Bertelsmann study, the majority of German society is “anti-Islamist”. In their view, the growing rejection is no longer a peripheral phenomenon. “Even if it is not accompanied by a concrete agenda against Muslims, anti-Islamism as a socially acceptable trend creates a societal climate in which right-wing populist parties can find fertile soil and discrimination of minorities, such as Muslims, is tolerated,” explained El-Menouar. The Bertelsmann Foundation’s religion monitor regularly examines the meaning of religion for societal cohesion of religious and culturally diverse societies in a representative and internationally comparative way. It is based on representative surveys of the population in various states. On behalf of the Bertelsmann Foundation, five researchers used this data to analyse how Muslims live in Germany and how Islam is perceived by the majority.


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JHA: “Germany’s right-wing populists join hands with anti-Islamist Pegida”

After a joint meeting between representatives from the Eurosceptic Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the anti-Islamist Pegida movement, the two groups seem to have found common ground. EurActiv Germany reports. “We have determined that apparently there is content-related overlap,” explained Frauke Petry, a spokesperson for the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD). Petry spoke on Thursday (8 January) after she met with representatives from the anti-Islamist “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the Occident” (Pegida) alliance in Dresden.

The AfD had apparently hoped to join together with Pegida in making policy. Petry said the “overlap” represented the bulk of the results from the meeting with seven members of the Pegida movement. In a statement released later that evening, Pegida itself said the organisation saw potential for shared policies with the AfD on many issues, including immigration and asylum policy. “We both agree that there is considerable room for improvement with regard to domestic security,” a representative from Pegida was quoted as saying in the press release. “An immigration law that is up-to-date would do great things for Germany,” she added.

Speaking after Thursday’s meeting, Petry again rejected the view of most parties, that Pegida stands for racism and xenophobia. “We consider that to be false,” she stated.

Pegida has announced that it considers the Wednesday (7 January) attack on the Paris-based satirical magazine “ Charlie Hebdo” as proof that Islamists do not fit in a democratic society. Instead, the alliance argues Islamists rely on violence and death as solutions. “But our politicians want to convince us of the opposite,” the organisation explained on its Facebook page. Vice chairman of the AfD Alexander Gauland expressed a similar view: “Anyone who has so far ignored or laughed at people’s worries over the imminent threat of Islamisation, are belied by this bloody deed,” he said.

Read more on Euractiv link


HUMAN RIGHTS: “Better protection for victims of violence anywhere in the EU”

Brussels, 09 January 2015: As of this Sunday, victims of violence – notably those who have suffered domestic violence or stalking – will be able to guarantee themselves better protection in any EU Member State. The new rules mean that restraining, protection and barring orders issued in one Member State are now quickly and easily recognisable across the EU through simple certification.

“Rights of the victims of violence will now be guaranteed outside their own country too, wherever they are in Europe”, said Věra Jourová, the EU’s Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality. “In the EU, an estimated one in five women face violence at some point in their life and unfortunately most often this physical violence comes from someone close to the person, such as their partner.” A citizen who has suffered domestic abuse will now be able to feel safe to travel outside their home country – by simply transferring the order that protects them from the offender. Previously, victims would have to go through complex procedures to get their protection recognised in other EU Member States – and enter a different procedure for certification in each country. Now, such protection orders will be easily recognised in any EU Member State, meaning a citizen who has suffered violence can travel without having to go through burdensome procedures.

“The new procedure will mean that women or men who suffer violence can have the protection they deserve and go on with their lives. They will be able to choose to live in another EU Member State or to travel on holiday without fearing for their safety,”Věra Jourová added. The new mechanism consists of two separate instruments: the Regulation on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters and the Directive on the European Protection Order. Together, the two instruments will ensure that all victims of violence have the possibility to get their protection orders recognised in any EU Member State. The mechanisms reflect the differences in the Member States’ national protection measures, which can be of civil, criminal or administrative nature. The rules together will ensure free circulation of the most common types of protection measures within the EU.

More support needed for victims

The need for support and protection of victims is backed up by a report published today by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), which concludes that more targeted victim support services are needed in the EU. Despite improvements, challenges remain for victim support services in many Member States. Specific suggestions for improvement include ensuring victims have access to targeted support services – including trauma support and counselling, removing bureaucratic hurdles for victims to legal aid, and ensuring people have information about their rights and the services available. The European Commission is committed to improving the rights of the 75 million people that become victims of crime each year. In 2012, an EU directive setting minimum standards for the rights, support and protection of victims across the EU became law (IP/12/1066) and will become binding on Member States by 16 November 2015. With measures such as the EU-wide protection orders that apply as of Sunday, and the minimum rights for victims, the European Commission is working to strengthen the rights of persons who fall victims to crime wherever they are from, and wherever in the EU they should fall victim to crime.


The Regulation on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters received backing by the European Parliament in May 2013 (MEMO/13/449) and by Ministers in the Justice Council in June 2013 (IP/13/510), complementing the Directive on the European Protection Order, adopted in December 2011. Both instruments enter into application on 11 January 2015. In line with the Lisbon Treaty, Denmark will not be participating. To reinforce existing national and EU measures on victims’ rights, the European Commission proposed,on 18 May 2011, a package of measures (IP/11/585) to ensure a minimum level of rights, support and protection for victims across the EU. It included the Directive on victims’ rights, the Regulation on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters, and a Communication presenting the Commission’s current and future action in relation to victims.

European Commission Press Release

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