Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-09-01-Speech-1-064"

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"Madam President, conceiving of the European Union as an area of freedom, security and justice would be nothing but a remarkable goal without the involvement of the already-established European agencies, whose capacities to act and react to combat organised cross-border crime should become stronger. I should like to thank the shadow rapporteurs, with whom I have worked very well on nearly all aspects of this report, and also the President of Eurojust and his team for their openness during this process. While drawing up this report, I heard many colleagues call for a European prosecutor. In this respect, I am much more in favour of harmonisation and the setting-up of a European justice system than of reinforcing cooperation. However, for a number of reasons we are, for the time being, still pretty far from such a goal: firstly, because there is no European legislation addressing the issue of jurisdiction in cases that are the competence of Eurojust; secondly, because of the reluctance shown by Member States even to transfer some of their investigative powers to a European agency. The text on the possibility of Eurojust’s national members being part of a joint investigation teams provides a good example. It is a paradox that while the Members of the European Parliament are ready to truly address serious cross-border crime – including by granting more powers to Eurojust, with our major concern being respect for human rights – the Member States are preaching one thing but legislating in another. It is difficult to explain to European citizens how we can establish an area of freedom, security and justice if Member States do not sufficiently trust our own European agencies. We as a Parliament understand and agree with the fact that Eurojust must work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs has also agreed that in order for Eurojust to be efficient it is essential for its national members to have the same judicial powers they enjoy in their own countries. It also voted in favour of strengthening relations with Europol and the European judicial network, and of creating links with other European and international agencies, such as Frontex, Interpol and the World Customs Organisation. What we as Members of this Parliament require – and the report is a reflection of this approach – is a proper balance between the powers of Eurojust and those of its national members, on the one hand, and the rights of the defendant, on the other. That is why several of the amendments I have tabled aim to increase the level of protection of procedural rights, such as the right to defence, the right to a fair trial, the right to be informed and the right to judicial redress. At the same time, although we are aware of the strong data-protection system established by the agency, several amendments represent additional safeguards. However, a major concern still exists about data transmitted to third countries and international organisations, because the truth is that we do not know, in reality, what will happen to this data. Therefore, in order to make sure that our own European standards are observed, I propose setting up an evaluation mechanism. I should like to thank Commissioner Barrot for mentioning this. Last but not least, I am concerned about the role that the European Parliament should play in relation to Eurojust. Not knowing what the fate of the Lisbon Treaty will be makes things even more worrisome. However, there is nothing in current Community law to prevent Parliament from playing an active role in supervising the activities of Eurojust. It is entirely a matter of political will, and I truly hope that this House will be allowed to do its job."@en1

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