Paris attacks: Verhofstadt demands 'real European integration' for security policies

In a letter to Juncker and home affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, Guy Verhofstadt calls for enhanced cooperation between the member states in the fight against terrorism.

By Julie Levy-Abegnoli

24 Nov 2015

Parliament's ALDE group Chair Guy Verhofstadt has written to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European migration, home affairs and citizenship Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, criticising the lack of cooperation between the member states on security issues.

According to the Liberal MEP; "Whether it's intelligence, cooperation between services or border controls, we know what's been missing for years - and this has been made even more obvious given events in 2014 and 2015 – (it is) real European integration in terms of security policies."

Verhofstadt added that his group, "reiterates its commitment to actively contribute to elaborating a European internal security policy, one that goes way beyond the sometimes outdated concept of national security, in order to come up with an effective response and in full respect of the law at the most relevant level - that of the Union."


He also called on the Commission to, "present proposals without delay to lay the foundations for cooperation and integrated policy in terms of intelligence. The tragic events in Paris are, unfortunately, just a reminder of the crucial lack of communication between EU intelligence services. They underline the vital need to establish a Europe of intelligence, bringing together all tools and information to face our common challenge, terrorism."

The Belgian deputy also urged member states to take the appropriate steps to implement the Commission's European security agenda, presented in April.

He also commented on the ongoing debate surrounding passenger name records (PNR), telling Juncker and Avramopoulos; "ALDE would like to reiterate its commitment to concluding the EU PNR negotiations by the end of the year. However, setting up such an instrument must deliver added value in terms of security. We therefore insist that the mandatory exchange of passenger data between the member states be included in the final text, which will also have to abide by EU law."

PNR has been under discussion since 2011. It has been a contentious topic, amid fears such a system would lead to blanket data retention and racial profiling.

Last week, Parliament's EPP group issued a bizarre press release in which it accused other groups of blocking progress on PNR, claiming that, "terrorists would gleefully vote Left." 

This provoked outrage among MEPs, with one deputy demanding a formal apology and threatening to take the issue before the Conference of Presidents.

Gianni Pittella, Chair of Parliament's S&D group, said the EPP's claims were, "simply untrue. We must resist using a tragedy to score political points."

Meanwhile, the Greens defended their opposition to PNR, with home affairs spokesperson Judith Sargentini explaining that such measures were, "inefficient and a massive drain on resources that are badly needed elsewhere."

Unfortunately, this is unlikely to fare well for Parliament's rapporteur on PNR, Timothy Kirkhope, who had previously vowed not to let the dossier become "a political football."


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