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Safety in Numbers
The present situation
Following the London attacks in July 2005, EU interior ministers held an extraordinary meeting where they agreed that all measures already decided on should be implemented as a matter of urgency. These include:
• the European evidence warrant;
• strengthening Schengen and visa information systems;
• biometric details on passports;
• combating the financing of terrorism (see below);
• preventing recruitment and radicalisation;
• greater controls over trade, storage and transport of explosives.
In September 2005, the Commission came up with a further package including a proposed directive on data retention, a communication on radicalisation and a decision to allocate €7 million to prevention, preparedness and response to terrorist attacks.
Europe United approves all the above points.
In December 2005 the Council of Justice Ministers approved a new strategy to counter terrorism. The main aim of this strategy is to draw up EU policy in a clear and comprehensive manner for the general public.
Europe United is of the view that the EU and its Member States are failing in this respect. There is still no clear and transparent policy available for public scrutiny. This produces a feeling among EU citizens at large that their fundamental freedoms are being slowly eroded on the pretence of increasing security. They do not believe that their political representatives are acting in their best interests. This mistrust is primarily due to a lack of clear information. The debate on the possible use of ‘unveiling’ airport scanners illustrates this concern of sacrificing basic individual human freedoms versus collective security gains. Europe United believes that all measures that limit civil liberties in the name of security have to be appropriate and should be limited in time. The preservation of civil liberties must have priority and any limitations to those must only be allowed if absolutely necessary and must then be communicated effectively to citizens.
European arrest and evidence warrants
The European Arrest Warrant has been a great success of pan-European cooperation. Europe United believes its use should be developed and extended to improve the Union’s collective crime fighting abilities.
Exchange of information
Specific criminal and anti-terrorist measures are within the competence of Member States only and Europe United believes that this should remain so. On security matters our party supports the subsidiarity principle whereby the police and security agencies of Member States should remain under the sole competence of the Member States. All EU initiatives and agencies in the field of security are to be designed as complements to these state-run services and operations.
Review of standards and responsiveness concerning surveillance, detention and transit of criminals
Although Europe United acknowledges that police forces of Member States are primarily responsible for security during the apprehension, detention and transit of criminals, it finds that in certain member states security procedures are either neglected or the security precautions are systemically unsatisfactory. The (sometimes repeated) manifest consequences of failing to implement or violating stringent security measures are unacceptable as police and gendarmerie forces are the prime guarantors of civil security and as such bear a responsibility entrusted by the people. When the public trust is shaken, questions about the reliability and efficiency of police and gendarmerie tend to undermine the notion of ‘rule of law’ and erode a common perception of security.
Therefore, Europe United urges that on national levels comprehensive operational standards regarding the surveillance, detention and transit of criminals (from and to prisons, barracks, police stations, hospitals and court houses) be reviewed and contingencies are uprooted. A criminal gone fugitive is a potential risk to society, and ensuing hunts to locate and arrest this person is in the end an additional, unnecessary cost burden for society.
Strengthening mandates of Europol, Eurojust, Frontex and enlarging their operational capacities
Aside from said important subsidiarity provisions, Europe United deems it necessary to make more funds and operational capacities available to accommodate the task range of Europol, which continues to coordinate amongst national polices, supports European-wide investigations and organizes and maintains relevant data banks.
The main role of the EU is to co-ordinate and facilitate the exchange and sharing of information among Member States. A specific programme to create a legal enforcement network (LEN) which will facilitate exchange of information between police forces has been launched.
Other main agencies promoting co-operation are Eurojust and the European Border Agency (Frontex). Europe United is in favour of the development of these agencies to increase their effectiveness with respect to our principle of subsidiarity on security matters.
The Hague programme introduced the idea of the 'principle of availability' where the information available to law enforcement officers in one Member State should be accessible by their counterparts in other Member States whenever they require.
Increased harmonization of national criminal, penal and police law systems
Facilitating better performance and closer judicial cooperation in Europe cannot be met by a functioning and efficient information and communication cycle alone. There are still prohibitions and obstacles in the acquisition, transfer and processing of evidence during court cases, and regarding the exchange of convicts (to sit out the remainder of their penalty in jail in another country), the latter being largely ruled via bilateral agreements between nations. A judicial harmonization committee ought to be appointed on EU level and given the task to determine ‘best practices’ in national law systems. In the long run, more harmonization between existing law traditions should ensue, by pressing governments to review and reform mainly deficient law provisions, achieving a better course of justice and treated with more equality (e.g. deficient interpretations on ‘mixed marriages’ as a means to obtain legal status for one partner).
These improvements and enlarged authority powers are necessary to coordinate three important objectives in the member states:
1) Breaking down deficiencies and mitigate liabilities regarding staffing, communication, infrastructure and interoperability;
2) Supervising and co-organizing the installment of more effective and adequate security provisions in all courts and detention facilities on a national and regional scale;
3) Achieving an optimal level of transnational and inter-agency cooperation and more stringent security protocols.
Strengthening liability of Private Sector Entities that are implicated (as offender, accomplice or through default) in illegal or criminal acts
Punitive measures that are binding and enforceable throughout all EU member states in case a private entity (company, enterprise, service, Ltd., LLP., LLC.) demonstrably and undeniably violates human rights as described in both the ECHR and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. Extraterritorial application of said violations should be guaranteed, in case the Private Sector Entity also conducts business or operations in an EU country, irrespective of the country of registration.
Border and Travel Security
From 2005 biometric data is included on passports. Visas are to follow suit which will make them computer-readable. There must be strict controls on the accessibility of databases related to this initiative and the data must only ever be used for the purpose of identification.
There should be a single common EU border guard agency for the EU’s external land borders. This agency should be comprised of the border guard agencies of the Union's border states. These forces are to remain under sovereignty of individual Member States although their activities should to be coordinated at EU-level. This force would take on the sole responsibility for policing the EU’s external land borders. Europe United views the existence of internal EU border guard forces and crossing points between Member States as anachronistic to the ideal of European Unity and a flagrant waste of tax payers’ money. Our party wishes to see such agencies disbanded and such crossing points dismantled as soon as possible and all Member States brought within the Schengen framework.
There should also be a single common European Coast Guard Agency comprised of the sovereign coast guard agencies of Member States co-ordinated at EU-level. It is our goal to see an end to the monitoring of traffic between Member States by coast guards.
A permanent EU Monitoring, Prevention and Response Centre to tackle Human Trafficking
Many forms of crime have become transnational in nature. One of them is terrorism, another grave crime that requires continued attention is human trafficking, as this is considered the second largest source of illicit profits for organised crime.
In December 2004, the EU Experts Group on Trafficking in Human Beings argued that a flexible structure ought to be created in order to rapidly respond to new trends and practices of traffickers, while enabling at the same time the access of all trafficked persons to service providers. As such, the group proposed the set-up of a “European Anti-Trafficking Network”.
Europe United supports this idea and argues the set-up of a more permanent EU Human and Illegal Trafficking Monitoring, Prevention and Response Centre (EUHTMPRC) that is networked to contact points in Member States.
Europe United regards the set-up of such a EU-wide centre an indispensible instrument to effectively achieve the aims set forth in Council Decisions 2006/618/EC and 2006/619/EC of 24 July 2006 (Conclusion of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children).
This Centre, which would require appropriate funding, staffing and other means, could be set up as a distinct operational unit within the Council. It should set-up solid links and closely cooperate with Frontex, Europol, Interpol, the EU Forum on Organized Crime Prevention, ILO, DG JLS, national coast guards and law enforcement agencies.
Retention of data on communication should only be permitted when it is justified and only when there are strong guarantees with respect to the protection of abuse from the use of that data.
Terrorist financing and money laundering
The third money laundering directive was adopted by the Council on 20 September 2005. It provides that suspicious transactions of €15,000 or more must be reported to special national financial intelligence units by the bodies covered by the directive (e.g. financial institutions, accountants, lawyers, estate agents and casinos). Europe United strongly approves these measures since they increase transparency and accountability. Europe United also wishes to see the following measures implemented:
• regulation on information to be contained in fund transfers compelling banks to provide personal details of anyone sending money into and out of the EU;
• confiscation of proceeds of crime;
• orders freezing property or evidence;
• controlling the transfer of cash crossing the EU's external borders;
• introducing a code of conduct preventing misuse of charities by terrorists;
• signature by the EU of the Council of Europe Convention on financing of terrorism.
• development of a common code of practice among Member States on generating and exchanging information on the cutting of funding to terrorist organisations;
• drawing up a code of conduct on the financial transparency and accountability practices of not-for-profit organisations.
Recruitment and radicalisation
Those that perpetrated the London bombings were residents of the United Kingdom. Looking at the reasons why young men are resort to such action is key to preventing terrorist atrocities. Europe United supports research into the phenomenon of radicalisation of EU citizens and backs any actions by Member States to integrate their young minorities into the mainstream of society in a way that respects the cultural rights of these people.
The EU must deal with the roots of international terrorism. These include the social, economic and political problems on which Islamic fanaticism and other terrorist ideologies are built. Europe United believes that poverty is the single most significant factor leading to radicalisation. This is why our foreign policy emphasises global solidarity and enlightened self-interest. If we mistreat people in distant lands we should not be surprised when that mistreatment, be it economic or military, rebounds against us. As such our party believes that the single most effective means of combating the causes of terrorism is to alleviate the economic situation of those who may turn to radicalism.
No action taken by Member States of the EU or countries to accede to the EU in the fight on terrorism or as regards security may contravene the European Charter of Human Rights.