13th February 2014: This morning at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons made this second contribution a debate in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) on the special report of the Ombudsman concerning FRONTEX.
"It is customary to say that human rights are indivisible and must be held equally by all. Some clearly and self-evidently are: Article 4 on the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment for example.
"People can, by their conduct and suspected conduct, place themselves in a category in which they can legitimately be treated differently. People suspected of being an illegal migrant or irregular migrant as you might like to call them, lose certain rights by virtue of that status. They cannot be expected to be able to roam freely throughout the Union.
"FRONTEX officials must question illegal migrants, forcefully though not forcibly, about their origins, especially when they have destroyed their documents quite deliberately. They must detain them in order to do that.
"Rescue at sea was mentioned earlier. I am, of course, wholly in favour of people, in danger, being rescued – indeed of there being a duty to rescue them. However, upon being rescued they should not be rewarded by being brought to Europe. They should indeed be returned to their countries of origin or to the countries from which they have embarked.
"The problem is that when in Europe they are either permitted to stay or refused permission but allowed to stay anyway! We heard a representative of FRONTEX, a couple of years ago, who said that refused asylum seekers were not forcibly returned but simply handed a piece of paper and asked, very kindly, if they would leave the European Union.
"We cannot give people the job of protecting the EU’s frontiers and then place them in the firing line of malicious complaints. I believe that all relations between officials and migrants must be recorded to prevent this from happening.
"I find it sinister that complaints are sometimes made, not by the migrants themselves but by NGOs on behalf of the migrants but without the authority of the migrants.
"Employers have a responsibility in civil law for the wrongful actions of their employees, because they can discipline them and even dismiss employees who act wrongly. However, they are not usually responsible for the actions of people over whom they have no control. The idea that FRONTEX should be responsible for the employees of member states is preposterous."
13th February 2014: This morning at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons made the following contribution a debate in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) on the special report of the Ombudsman concerning FRONTEX.
"The principle of non–refoulement is sending a blank cheque to accept as many people from dangerous countries as turn up on our shores. If we take that to the logical or illogical conclusion then we cannot tolerate the existing populations of those countries remaining there.
"We had better bring the whole populations of all of the dangerous countries in the world to Europe and then watch it sink."
13th February 2014: Yesterday at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons made the following contribution a debate after a presentation from Cecelia Malmström on an EU Anti-Corruption Report.
(A report into corruption in the public and the private sectors in all twenty-eight EU member states but excluding corruption in EU institutions)
"Would you restrict the term 'corruption' to positive incentives provided for changing a decision - whether economic or political - or would you extend it to threats - for example of disclosure - particularly relevant to people who have life styles that make them vulnerable?
"To what extent do countries - that is political states - use financial incentives to influence political parties, governments or individuals? There was an example in the UK about ten years ago, in which a generous political donor, with close connections to a country that had contentious relations with its neighbours, was found to have donated funds to the campaigns of all of the candidates for a senior position in a political party. This was quite an eye opener. It was not so much an attempt to influence the outcome, as it was to buy the loyalty of whoever won.
"Is corruption sometimes, at least in the beginning, so subtle as to be barely perceptible - invitations, flatter and attention, rather than hard cash in sealed envelopes? Do all decision takers need to be trained to recognise it?
"I have never been approached to take a corrupt decision but that might be attributable to my complete lack of power or influence. I have never regarded lack of opportunity to be a sign of virtue!"
Response from the Commissioner:
She said that she and her colleagues used the UN definition of 'abuse of power for private gain', which would seem to exclude threats and would not include donations to parties, though it might extend to personal campaigns within parties, such as the one mentioned.
13th February 2014: Yesterday at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons put the following questions to Dr Marianne Wade who gave a presentation to the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) on on developing a Criminal Justice Area in the European Union.
"Would you agree that courts in the executing country of a European Arrest Warrant should be able to refuse to execute a warrant for lack or insufficiency of evidence?
"I am not an enthusiast for the EU and neither am I a supporter of the European Arrest Warrant. I would not normally be a supporter of the proposed European Investigation Order. However, I am inclined to think that as long as the European Arrest Warrant exists and applies to the United Kingdom, a European Investigation Order might serve to reduce the issuing of European Arrest Warrants in the weakest of cases. Would I be right to suppose that?"
Response from Dr Wade:
Dr. Wade said that she would prefer the decision to issue the warrant and the decision to execute it to take place at the same time. She did not say directly whether the court in the executing country should be allowed to refuse extradition on the ground of insufficient evidence.
12th February 2014: A report from Andrew Brons on this morning's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) meeting at the European Parliament in Brussels.
I arrived at my LIBE meeting at 9.00 as usual and it started (promptly?) at 9.10. I have never known a meeting to start on time.
The first substantive item on the agenda was an ‘exchange of views’ with the Executive Director of LISA – the EU Agency for large scale IT systems, Mr Krum Garkov who spoke with the charisma that we would expect of an IT expert, and in passionate monotones.
We listened to him politely, displaying expressions that affected an understanding of, and interest in, the subject matter. When I say ‘we’ that was strictly accurate, but only just. If there had been one fewer in the audience, I should have had to use the pronoun ‘I’. Yes there were only two of us in the audience (out of 119).
A third member joined us at the end of Mr Garkov’s presentation but the fact he had missed the oration did not prevent him from asking about it.
This item finished at 9.30 and the next item on the agenda was not scheduled to start until 9.45. Our President- a kind man- gave the three of us a well deserved break!
12th February 2014: This morning at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons made the following contribution to a debate in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) on measures to prevent the counterfeiting of the Euro.
"There is no doubt that problems associated with a currency being undermined extend beyond the countries that use it as their national currency.
"With that in mind, it is understandable that a regulation should be proposed to extend the Pericles 2020 programme to member states that have not adopted the Euro.
"However, there are ten EU countries that are outside the Zone and each has a national currency. Those currencies need to be protected against counterfeiting, just as the Euro does.
"Does the EU take any measures to protect those currencies. Does it spend EU money doing so?
"We know that there is a Fund of 7,344,000 Euros to implement the Programme for the seven years up to the end of 2020. If you think that that does not sound much more than a round of drinks, don't worry. If the Commission wishes to exceed that amount by more than 10%, it can pass delegated acts to authorise itself to do so.
"This money is presumably from the EU Budget subscribed to by all net donor member states but by some more than by others.
"If it is in everybody's interest to protect the Euro from counterfeiting (and I accept that it is), it is also in the interests of all to protect the other currencies. We cannot have a situation in which all twenty-eight (or at least the net donors among them) pay to protect the Euro but each of the ten also pays, alone, to protect its own currency."
Response from the Commission and the Rapporteur:
The representative said that the extension would protect other currencies because the training provided would develop expertise that would enable other currencies to be protected.
However, the Rapporteur admitted frankly that the proposed regulation did not apply to other currencies but invited me to propose an initiative
for a regulation that would do so. This might be rather a tall order to be completed in two months!
12th February 2014: This morning at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons made the following contribution to a debate in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) on an arrangement with various Non-EU countries* to participate in the European Asylum Support Office.
"If I were a citizen of any of these countries, I should ask whether we (meaning 'they') were under particular pressure from asylum applicants that the Office could help us with. The answer is likely to be 'No'. So why is their co-operation being sought? They are being asked to contribute financially and to provide homes for asylum seekers.
"We must ask how many asylum seekers have arrived in the EU directly from the country from which they are fleeing. The EU does not have a land border with any of the countries from which people are fleeing. If they by-passed the first safe countries, they ceased to be asylum seekers and became migrants of choice.
"Many from North Africa are supposedly fleeing countries that have had democracy bombed into them by those kind Western countries.
"Those from Sub-Saharan Africa have by-passed or passed through many countries before putting their families at risk in leaky boats.
"The mood of Europe is changing very quickly and it is ironic that Switzerland is one the countries whose co-operation is being sought. The referendum on Sunday was not about asylum seekers but its mood was unmistakeable."
Response from the Commission:
The representative of the Commission said that Norway had indeed received numerous asylum seekers. However, he did not say whether they had just arrived (as they had done in Lampedusa) or they were allowed in voluntarily by the Norwegian Government.
12th February 2014: This morning at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons made the following contribution to a debate in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) on an EU Azerbaijan agreement on the re-admission of persons residing without authorisation (illegal immigrants!).
"Persons residing without authorisation is a wonderful euphemism for those whom I would call illegal immigrants and most of you would call irregular migrants.
"There must be a figure of speech in English and all other languages for an agreement that sounds very even handed but is in fact completely one-sided. If there is, I must have forgotten it; if there is not, I shall invent one and tell you when I have done it.
"However, whatever it might be called, here are two of them.
"There are two agreements. The first is a re-admission agreement under which people from one country who are found to be residing in the other illegally (or without authorisation if you prefer it) must be accepted back by their own country. Now this is a two way agreement, it applies to either country's citizens or possibly to nationals without citizenship.
"However, there is one little imbalance in this Agreement. There might be one or two (just one or two) more Azerbaijanis living illegally in the EU than there are citizens of EU states living, without authorisation, in Azerbaijan.
"There is another slight problem with this Agreement. Countries are obliged to accept their citizens (though possibly not their nationals who might have renounced their citizenship) under international law. So Azerbaijan agrees to do something that, in most cases, it must already do in return for EU member states agreeing to take back any of their citizens who have sneaked into Azerbaijan to claim fraudulently their one manat or one hundred gyapiks a day in social security - probably not a very numerous category.
"The other Agreement is a visa liberalisation agreement. This is also a two-way agreement.
"Citizens of EU countries will be able to travel to Azerbaijan under a simplified visa procedure a visa and have the opportunity of overstaying illegally. I don't know if there anybody in this room thinking of doing that?
"Equally, Azerbaijanis will be able to travel to the EU and return when their business is concluded or when they feel like it.
"It's not very two-way if you ask me!"
Response from the Commission:
The representative said that the agreement was a visa facilitation agreement and not a visa liberalisation agreement (although it had been said, by the Rapporteur, that it would be a prelude to visa liberalisation) and visas would still be required. If a person overstayed beyond the period allowed by the visa he would be returned under the terms of the re-admission agreement.
However, the return of the person is predicated on the assumption that he or she could be found and had not disappeared into the black economy!
12th February 2014: This morning at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons made the following contribution to a debate in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) on ways of combating new psychoactive substances.
"There is an important difference between saying that something must be done about a problem and saying that what has been proposed must be done about it.
"The identification of the problem is somewhat easier than the solution. New substances, not covered by existing criminal law, are being taken by young people recreationally and they suffer changes in consciousness, behaviour and cognition, impairing rational behaviour and possibly having long term consequences.
"The difficulty is apparently that the identities of the substances or at least their names, if not all of their ingredients, are changing continually, perhaps ahead of legislation.
"It is interesting that they are said to come from clandestine laboratories in emergent economies like China and India, which do not appear to have the regulatory frameworks to control the production. It is perhaps an irony that China can manage to repress dissent rather more efficiently than it can regulate harmful economic activity.
"It is another irony that the EU, wearing its Globalist hat, is so keen to conclude trade agreements with these countries. It appears that they are being traded through official channels, though perhaps with misleading descriptions.
"This is yet another example of the EU saying that this is an international problem, so it needs an EU solution. However, the words international and European Union are not (yet at least) synonymous. World-wide problems require world-wide solutions that can be produced only by international treaties with the maximum number of signatories.
"I found the concern that the actions of individual member states to solve this problem might be a threat to the Single Market rather disturbing. So that's what we are worried about!
"The problem is that the opening up of borders has created a Single Markets in all manner of illicit goods, services and even the fruits of criminal activity."
23rd January 2014: This morning at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons made the following contribution to a Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) meeting under Any Other Business.
"I see that the next meeting scheduled is for 30th January 2014. Unless I am mistaken, this meeting was not in the original schedule of meetings. Holding meetings that have not previously been scheduled is a recipe for poor attendance.
"The other part of the recipe for poor attendance is to have half day meetings isolated from other meetings. It is difficult to justify spending over £800 flying to attend a three hour meeting.
"This will not affect me for long because I shall not be here beyond this Summer. I hope that you will not be too grief stricken to hear this news and will fight to hold back your tears."