23rd June 2010: Contribution by Andrew Brons, in LIBE, to a debate on the Conclusions of the Spanish EU Council Presidency* in the Area of Immigration.
This followed a presentation by Spanish Secretary of State for Immigration and Emigration, Anna Terron i Cusi.
"Has there been any study of the disruption caused in countries providing migrants, by the loss of skilled workers, who have been educated and trained at great expense, which those countries can ill afford? This is particularly serious in the case of health service workers.
"British politicians boast of the key role that nurses and doctors, from the Third World, play in the British National Health Service. However, every doctor or nurse recruited to work in Europe, from the Third World, is a doctor or nurse, educated and trained at great expense by their own countries and who ought to be paying back the cost of their training to care for their own sick people. Britain and other European countries should be training their own peoples to work in their health services and not robbing the Third World of their doctors and nurses.
"On the question of asylum, to what extent are asylum seekers the product of aggressive and illegal wars that have been waged or are being waged by the United States and United Kingdom, in particular, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Will avoidance of the planned war against Iran prevent a future flood of asylum seekers?
"I found the term Human Capital used by you rather chilling. In the context of legal economic migration people are regarded and treated, not as human beings but as expendable factors of production."
Mrs. Terron responded to the first of the three questions but not the other two. She said that it was an important question and that we must try to promote circularity. It has to become a positive cycle with benefits for the country of origin and for the country in which the migrant is working. In the long run, the worker might return to the country of origin and work there.
* The Spanish Presidency is the Rotating Presidency of the Council (not to be confused with the European Council). The Council contains one representative from each country's government and is presided over by a representative from a different member state every six months.
10th June 2010: At a joint meeting of the LIBE Committee (Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs) and the FEMM Committee (Women's Rights and Gender Equality) Andrew Brons spoke on the subject of Combating and Preventing Trafficking in Human Beings.
"Human trafficking is seen as something quite different from ordinary economic activity. In fact it is simply an extreme form of modern international capitalism.
"They both objectivise human beings and treat people as though they were just economic resources - dispensable factors of production. They hire and fire without feeling or compassion.
"Illegal human trafficking, legal economic migration, off-shore employment and moving production to where it labour is the cheapest are all part of the same phenomenon - the same problem.
"Human trafficking in the narrow sense thrives in a climate in which people are seen as economic resources. Changing that climate - that attitude - is the necessary first step towards the prevention of human trafficking.
"It is revealing that particular countries have been identified as providing the victims. These are presumably the poorer countries. This is the problem of having greatly differing wage levels in the same labour market.
"Are particular population groups prominent among the victims and the traffickers?
"It was also revealing to hear (from one of the speakers) that the Schengen removal of international border checks had facilitated human trafficking."
Steve Harvey, a representative of Europol responded:
He said that Roma people were prominent among the victims and the traffickers admitting that parents were often complicit in the trafficking of their children! He said that the problem was that these children would not testify against their parents.
He agreed that the removal of international border controls had facilitated human trafficking.
10th June 2010: Andrew made this contribution to a debate in the Civil Liberties, Justice & Home Affairs Committee on the Annual Report for 2009 of the European Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).
*(It should be remembered that in the Orwellian language of the European Union the term, fundamental rights, means suppression of the right of free speech).
"The distinction was made in the previous debate, on the TFTP* agreement, between the expression of radical opinion and the one hand and violence and encouragement of violence on the other. The statistics in this Report seem intentionally to blur that distinction.
"Violence and incitement to violence, whether on racial grounds, religious grounds or on any other ground, must never be tolerated and must always be prosecuted. Expression of opinion - political opinion or opinion on academic subjects should never be suppressed; still less should it result in prosecution.
"However, in many member states, expression of opinion that could not conceivably be regarded as incitements to violence, is criminalised and results in people being imprisoned. These so-called 'crimes' are put into the same category as violent racial crime in this Report.
"In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders, a man for whom I have little time, is being prosecuted for the expression of non-violent opinion.
"To refer to the prosecution of people for the expression of non-violent opinion as the extension of fundamental rights is an abuse of language of which twentieth century totalitarian propagandists would have been justly proud."
* This was a debate on a proposed agreement between the United States and the European Union on sharing financial data for the alleged purpose of prosecuting those who finance terrorism.
10th June 2010: THERE was revelation at the end of the joint meeting of the LIBE and FEMM Committees.
It was revealed that the directive planned to combat human trafficking would contain the principle of non-refoulement - ensuring that nobody would be returned to persecution.
Andrew Brons had this to say after the meeting.
"This principle means that none of the victims of human trafficking will ever be returned, because countries that failed to prevent trafficking in the first place obviously cannot prevent its recurrence.
"It provides the opportunity for voluntary but illegal migrants to avoid being returned by claiming falsely that they were coerced or deceived into migrating illegally."
1st June 2010: Andrew Brons spoke in a debate in Civil Liberties, Justice & Home Affairs Committee on the proposed European Protection Order to protect women from sexual violence.
The MEP for Yorkshire and North East Lincolnshire said:
"We have been told that it would be possible to apply for the European Protection Order only after a national protection order had already been granted. Furthermore, the court in the second or subsequent country would have no discretion about whether or not to grant the order, once a national order had been made.
"However, there might be argument about the scope or definition of the order and this would be difficult if there were different legal systems in the originating country and the second or subsequent country.
"I understand that the perpetrator or the person alleged to constitute the threat would be informed of the application. This is necessary in the interests of justice: ex parte hearings are never really satisfactory.
"However, this would make the perpetrator or the person constituting the threat aware of the victim's new home, which has been recognised in Amendment 13. "There could be no information provided about the residence of the victim other than the country in which the EPO was being sought. However, that would raise the danger of the perpetrator/threat being able to claim that his presence in the same place as the victim was a coincidence. This would not be as ridiculous as it might appear if the victim and the perpetrator both came from the same town in the same country.
"It would be much better, instead of a European Protection Order, if there were an application for the perpetrator to be sent back to the originating country for breach of the original order. This would avoid courts in second or subsequent countries misunderstanding the intention or meaning of the original order.
"There is a real problem here but that real problem is being used as an excuse for extending judicial authority across Europe."
1st June 2010: Andrew Brons questioned his Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee colleagues during a debate on the response of European Union institutions to the need for public access to EU documents.
Andrew Brons asked:
"Is there a danger that the right of access to documents will lead to sensitive matters being omitted from documents or put into emails that might be deleted without a record".
The Secretary General of the European Ombudsman replied that public access to documents did cause a change in behaviour and that it was a change for the better. It led to documents being written to a higher standard.
Andrew Brons later commented:
"Reference has been made to the tiny number of requests for information that have been made. However, we have all been brought up in a culture of secrecy and this has yet to be overcome. Indeed, this most important subject is regarded as being of little importance by members of the public and by MPs and MEPs.
I hope that the attendance here this afternoon, just six MEPs, is not indicative of the level of interest in this important subject.
1st June 2010: Andrew Brons questioned Mr. Aled Williams, President of Eurojust, from Andrew Brons, at a meeting of the LIBE (Civil Liberties, Justice & Home Affairs) Committee at which Eurojust's 2009 Report was debated.
"Will the European Arrest Warrant be used to extradite a person from a country, in which the person's act is not a criminal offence, to a country in which that act is an offence?
This is particularly relevant to offences involving heretical political or academic opinions. Different countries seem to have different definitions of thought crime."
Answer: Mr. Williams said that there were thirty-two classifications of offences covered by the European Arrest Warrant. If the offence in question fell into one of those categories, there did not need to have dual criminality.
In other words a person could be extradited from Britain under the EAW for an offence that was not an offence in Britain. This was something that ministers said would not happen.
Andrew did not, in his question, distinguish between acts committed entirely in Britain (a speech at a meeting in Britain); acts committed entirely in a country in which the speech was an offence (a speech in that other country); and an act that might be committed simultaneously in Britain and the other country (a message on the internet or in a publication readily available in more than one country). Interestingly, he did not make that distinction either.
31st May 2010: Andrew Brons made this contribution to a debate in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee on Public Access to European Parliament, Council and Commission Documents.
"I am, of course, in favour of the public having access to European Union documents. However, that right will be worthless, if the documents are written in the most obscure and difficult language.
Any document should pass the reasonable and intelligent bystander test. Would a reasonable and intelligent member of the public in each European Union country understand an EU document, without prior knowledge or further research. In my view, most EU documents would fail that test.
"I should make it clear that I am not criticising the interpretation and translation service; they might cut me off!
"Documents that originate in my own language often look and sound as though they had been translated through no fewer than three obscure and extinct languages. In such cases, the task of the translation service would seem to be an impossible one.
"I suspect that deliberate ambiguity and uncertainty is a help to those who would like to be seen as the champions of open government but wish to keep their plans to themselves.
"In Britain, we have the Plain English Society. I am not usually in favour of Europe-wide bodies but perhaps we should have a Plain European Languages Society."
THE unbridled euphoria of MEPs celebrating the 'Yes' vote in Ireland at the meeting of the Human Rights, Justice & Home Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, prompted Andrew Brons, the British National Party's MEP for Yorkshire & the Humber, to pose a rhetorical question to his colleagues on the committee.
"I certainly do not want to spoil the celebratory atmosphere about the result of the Irish Referendum on the Lisbon Treaty but I must tell you that the British Conservative Party have implied strongly that they will attempt to renegotiate unspecified parts of the Lisbon Treaty if they should be elected to Government.
"Would this be possible, or is it simply an empty promise to win votes in the General Election?"
ANDREW Brons tackled Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union's Counter Terrorism Co-ordinator, during a question and answer session on terrorism during a meeting of the LIBE (Human Rights, Justice & Home Affairs) Committee of the European Parliament.
Speaker after speaker were falling over themselves to emphasise that Islamic terrorism was not the only threat but one of many faced by democratic nations.
This led Andrew ask the EU Counter Terrorism Co-ordinator:
"I am mindful of the fact that Islamic terrorism is not the only form of terrorism. However, when addressing the question of Islamic terrorism, to what extent do aggressive wars waged against Muslim countries such as Iraq in the past and perhaps Iran in the future contribute to an atmosphere in which terrorism can thrive?"