Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-09-01-Speech-1-061"

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". − Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great honour for me to speak to you today and to tell you about my deep attachment to the values of the European Union. At the heart of these values, without doubt, is justice. You wanted to start your part-session with a joint debate on justice issues. This shows the importance that this House places on the issues of European judicial cooperation and protection of fundamental rights. I am just as keen on these issues and thank you for this opportunity. As regards the application of the principle of mutual recognition, which is also one of the pivotal aspects in the construction of an area of justice, freedom and security, the framework decision on the enforcement of decisions rendered will allow existing instruments, such as the European arrest warrant, to be reinforced. It is vital that a decision rendered in a person’s absence by a Member State can be enforced throughout the European Union. The framework decision will also be accompanied by a reinforcement of people’s procedural rights. This involves allowing sentences delivered to be enforced while respecting the right of defence. However, this framework decision does not aim to amend national rules but rather to improve the enforcement of decisions rendered . Your report, Mr França, underlines the need to harmonise the existing instruments and that the right to be heard during proceedings must be guaranteed. The diversity of legal systems must be respected, for example with regard to how a person is summoned. The Council shares these concerns and the draft proposal therefore relaunches the joint debate on strengthening fundamental guarantees within the European Union. I know that your Parliament is deeply attached to this issue. The Council will examine your proposals which, in the main, are along the same lines as the text which has been the subject of political agreement in the Council. This is the case in particular with the proposals on representation by a legal counsellor and the right to a retrial. These amendments are undoubtedly improvements on the original proposal. Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the Council will study closely the proposals that will be adopted this week and I must once again assure you of the Presidency’s desire to work with your Parliament. We must move forward hand-in-hand and I will never forget that you are the representatives of the European people. Through these three texts, progress will be made in terms of judicial cooperation in criminal matters and also the common good in Europe. Three texts are on the agenda, as recalled by your President: the decision on the European Judicial Network, the decision on Eurojust and the framework decision on the enforcement of decisions rendered . These three texts will improve judicial cooperation within the European Union and will also alter the way in which the Member States work. These three initiatives are also eagerly awaited by those working within justice in our countries. The work of the JHA Council on 25 July has allowed a political agreement to be reached on the draft decisions on the European Judicial Network and the strengthening of Eurojust. The combined efforts of the Slovenian Presidency and the French Presidency have brought this about in under a year. These two draft decisions will give greater protection to Europe’s citizens and strengthen judicial cooperation in criminal matters. That is the mark of a European Union that can act and make progress while taking account of freedoms and fundamental rights. As regards the European Judicial Network, the draft decision which should replace the 1998 Joint Action clarifies the obligations of Eurojust and the Network. It takes account of the wish of Member States to maintain both bodies and to reinforce their complementarity. The creation of secure methods of communication between Eurojust and the European Judicial Network will ensure effective judicial cooperation and greater mutual trust. The European Judicial Network is a well-known and recognised tool and has proven its usefulness in encouraging contacts between those involved on the ground. The report by Sylvia Kaufmann stresses the usefulness of the Network and its success. It highlights the Network’s adaptability which meets the needs, in particular, of magistrates. This report further underlines the need to retain this flexibility and decentralised structure. Mrs Kaufmann, you have taken on board and supported the main lines of the original proposal for which I thank you. You have also raised some concerns. You have rightly said that secure telecommunications should be established in strict compliance with data protection rules. We absolutely agree. I can assure you that the Council will pay close attention to the proposals adopted by Parliament. This assessment of the operation of the European Judicial Network goes hand-in-hand with the strengthening of Eurojust. One cannot exist without the other. After six years of Eurojust, experience shows that we need to improve the operation of this judicial cooperation unit. Eurojust is not sufficiently well-informed, particularly on terrorism matters. The powers of the national members are not harmonised and the operational capacity of Eurojust is not sufficiently well-developed. The text on which overall political agreement was reached on 25 July is a vital stage in the construction of the European judicial area. You will be well aware that the fight against all forms of serious crime is one of the European Union’s priorities. As an example, in 2004 fourteen cases on the trafficking of human beings were referred to Eurojust; in 2007 there were seventy-one cases referred. This shows that we must have effective tools for combating the trafficking on an unparalleled scale to which thousands of our citizens are falling victim. Eurojust must also become a leading unit in European judicial cooperation. Thanks to this text on which the JHA Council has agreed, Eurojust will be more operational and reactive. This is therefore an important step forward for us. I particularly want to congratulate the work of Renate Weber and to thank her for her support. I am well aware of her commitment and her desire to make this proposal succeed. With the strengthening of Eurojust, the prerogatives of the national members will be reinforced. An emergency coordination cell will be established and the transmission of information will be improved to better respond to the challenges posed by the new forms of crime. Some would have preferred an even more ambitious approach. As the institutional framework does not allow this, we must take advantage of every possibility to reinforce Eurojust, on the basis of established law and without delay. Some of your concerns have also been taken into account. The reporting to Parliament on Eurojust’s operation in this respect will be looked at closely."@en1

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