10th April 2014: Today 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 Protocol 36, Article 10, attached to the Lisbon Treaty about the opt-out of the United Kingdom from 135 measures and the intention to opt back into 35 of these measures (on Justice and Home Affairs).
"One of the measures that the UK Government has decided that it would like to opt back into is the European Arrest Warrant.
"I was interested in the explanation provided by the Legal Department but I shall not delve into the labyrinth of conditions according to which the UK might or might not be able to opt back in selectively.
"That it wishes to opt back into the European Arrest Warrant is, in my opinion regrettable because the court in the executing country does not have the power to to refuse extradition on the ground of insufficient evidence or indeed a complete lack of evidence. It can refuse extradition only on the grounds of procedure or proportionality.
"This is not a question only of sovereignty. It is a question of justice."
10th April 2014: Today 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 the ‘visa packages’.
"We heard some very interesting figures purporting to show the economic advantages of visa facilitation or visa liberalisation or new types of visa.
"Whilst it might be easy to calculate the number of people who do visit member states, how can we calculate the number of people who fail to come to EU member states but would come with visa facilitation?
"This seems like adding the first two numbers we think of and then calculating them to three decimal places. But perhaps I am just a cynic.
Response from the Commission"
"Of course we don’t have hard figures, we have estimates based on studies that have been conducted. Similar figures come from studies (conducted) last year. However, estimates are only estimates."
7th April 2014: Today at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons made the following contribution to a debate in the Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) on whether the European Parliament's vote on the removal of MEPs' immunities should be public or kept anonymous.
"The vote in the Legal Affairs Committee follows a debate at which arguments and evidence are considered. However, when the vote takes place in the plenary, there is a vote but no preceding debate, so no evidence or arguments are heard. Either the committee should decide, without the plenary having to affirm that decision or there ought to be a debate in the plenary, before the vote is taken.
"To have a vote without a debate is almost enticing members to take the decision on the basis of pre-judgements".
7th April 2014: Today at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons intended to make the following contribution to a debate in the Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) on the European Economic and Social Committee . . . however the debate didn't take place.
Andrew would have said:
"A body that claims to represent economic and occupational interests in an assembly could have all sorts of interesting labels attached to it. Syndicalist would be one of the more politically acceptable ones. Another might create the danger of shock and awe. F-words are always to be avoided in polite company.
"However, leaving the ad hominem abuse aside for the moment, does it perform a useful function? Does it provide value for money?
"It is essentially an intermediary between the institutions of the EU and interests that were already organised and articulate. There is always a danger that intermediaries will not pass on advice, claims and requests, accurately.
"There is also a danger that pleas from interests that were not approved of might be qualified or changed."