1st April 2014: This morning at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons made the following contribution during a debate in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) on the deaths in the Mediterranean of illegal migrants trying to reach Europe.
"The Task Force Mediterranean was set up to, 'take determined action to prevent deaths at sea'.
"Before something can be prevented, it is necessary to know why it happens.
"The deaths in the Mediterranean happen because people are prepared to risk themselves and others in inappropriate boats to reach Europe.
"Why do they take that risk? It is because, if they land in Europe or are rescued at sea and then taken to Europe, they might be granted asylum - not necessarily because they are personally in danger but because they come from a dangerous country and there are plenty of those in the world.
"If they are refused asylum and given a returns decision, they will have only about a 36% chance of being returned - 178,000 out of total of 474,000 in 2012.
"You will remember hearing that in the debate on Returns Policy yesterday, or no you will not remember, because I was the only member of the Committee in the audience. I became quite lonely at one point.
"So who is responsible for their deaths? The people who frame the asylum laws and allow people to stay. Secondly, those responsible for Returns Policy who fail to return most of them.
"Those who hold out the prize of asylum, attract people to take their chance.
"How can we prevent further deaths?
"We can announce loudly and clearly that no people who land in the EU or attempt to land in the EU without authorisation, are even considered for asylum. When that is understood, there will be no more deaths in the Mediterranean.
"Continue with the present and there will be more and more deaths- The choice is ours.
"We have been told this morning (by Mr Muschel, Director for Migration and Asylum) that we can cut down on illegal migration by increasing legal migration.
"You can reduce breaches of any law by allowing potential law breakers to do legally what they were going to do illegally!
31st March 2014: This afternoon at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons made the following contribution during a debate in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) on a Commission Statement on EU Returns Policy.
"I would not normally be arrogant enough to claim to speak on behalf of the whole audience but on this occasion I am the whole audience - the only MEP present in the audience (excluding the Vice President on the platform).
"Sometimes people - and this includes the Commission - communicate true motivations unintentionally.
" 'The return of third country nationals without legal grounds to stay is essential to the credibility of an EU legal migration and asylum policy'.
"So, there you have it, the introduction to the statement. A Returns Policy's purpose is to provide credibility for the EU bringing more and more immigrants through official channels. Its purpose is to allay concern.
"You might have noticed that there is no use of the words 'complete' or 'comprehensive' before the words 'returns policy'. That is just as well, because only a fraction of those issued with a 'return decision' (Euro Speak for an order to go) eventually leave. That was 178,000 out of a total of 484,000 in 2012 - about 36% by my mental arithmetic calculation.
"The reason for this is that those given a return decision are rarely returned forcibly and there is usually no check on whether the person has left.
"The Commission document expresses surprise that people, who have entered the EU without authority, are not going to leave the EU voluntarily, when not forced to do so.
"I remember a student of mine told me that he had lied on a visa form for the United States and he was stopped at the (United States) airport and put onto a return flight immediately.
"A returns policy is not difficult if it is intended to succeed."
31st March 2014: This afternoon at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons made the following contribution during a debate in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) following a presentation from Commissioner Kroes, the Commissioner for the Digital Agenda for Europe, on internet governance.
"Would you agree that, apart from on-line child abuse, personal harassment and encouragement of violence or other criminal behaviour, there should be complete freedom of expression of political and academic opinion on the internet, without criminal penalties?"
Andrew on 'the Response':
The Commissioner was asked questions by a Swedish MEP. She was then asked my question and my question was followed by several from the Vice President presiding. The Commissioner answered the Swedish MEP and those of the Vice President and then announced that she had answered all the questions.
It ought to be said that there were no other MEPs present - just the three of us - two in the audience!
31st March 2014: This afternoon at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons made the following contribution during a debate in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) on a report from Mr Gilles de Kerchove, EU Counter-Terrorism Co-ordinator, on the problem of people from* Europe going to Syria and returning radicalised** and trained in the use of weapons.
"The EU and some member states were pro-active in encouraging the rebellion in Syria from the outset. It might be that these governments would have preferred to see Proto-European liberals in opposition to Assad but it was obvious that opposition to the secular Ba'athist government of Syria would be attractive to Islamists. It was certainly obvious to me and I said so but it was apparently not obvious to the member states concerned.
"Of course, some of the forces had ulterior motives. Saudi Arabia that model democracy for the Middle East wanted to reduce the influence of Shi'ite Iran and its Alawite (but secular) protege Syria.
"For Israel, de-stabilisation of potentially dangerous neighbours is part of the Oded Yinnon plan from the 1980s.
"The problem is that European countries have, for decades, imported populations of people intended to be replacement Europeans but who have, into the third generation, remained the product of their Non-European backgrounds. Perhaps we should discontinue this policy of importing these populations.
"Perhaps the EU as a whole and individual member states should discontinue their policy of disrupting stable, if undemocratic, secular countries like Syria, because otherwise their governments will be replaced by governments that are anything but secular."
Mr Kerchove said the first (i.e. my) intervention was not a question but a statement and said no more!
* The word from was used to indicate that they had embarked from Europe and that they has lived in Europe perhaps since birth but it is rather unlikely that theirn families came from Europe
** The word radicalised is often used in this context but what is meant is persuaded to violence.
Footnote from Andrew:
Most of the audiences comprised three MEPs (though a different three) except for the last one on 'returns policy' for which I was the entire audience apart from the Vice President on the platform. I don't know where the other 117 MEPs were!