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!
31st March 2014: This afternoon at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons made the following contribution during a question time following a presentation of the 2013 report from the European Data Protection Service to the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE).
"Last May 29th you (Mr Hustinx) and Mr Butterelli presented your report for 2012. You responded to questions that I asked about the United Kingdom and legislation that had been planned but later abandoned, to keep a record of all telephone numbers dialled and all websites visited. You explained, quite understandably, that you could say little about United Kingdom policy.
"However, you added that you and your colleague would be, "looking at monitoring of Euro-staff and the ways that e-mail and internet use might be monitored".
"I thought at first that you would be initiating this. However, after re-reading your response, it became clear that you meant that you and your colleague were going to consider whether monitoring by some other person or department was justified.
"I could see that staff suspected of using official computers to visit inappropriate websites might be monitored. I could see the justification for devising a policy of limiting the amount of paid time that can be spent on sending and reading received e-mails. However, the policy should precede any monitoring. Furthermore, there should be no recording of e-mail addresses and no looking at private e-mails of staff. I presume that neither happens. Would you be able to explain what e-mail monitoring does take place and by whom?"
Mr Hustinx gave examples of when e-mail monitoring would be justified: if a member of staff were absent for some time, it would be necessary for replacement staff to extract the work that was being done; and if a member of staff were suspected of mis-using e-mails or the internet. Both he and Mr Butterelli said that they were in the process of finishing the drawing up of guidelines of the circumstances in which monitoring would be justified.