Summit nods through "EU Homeland Security" package

"the two most intrusive measures in the pipeline - mandatory retention of communications data and the compulsory fingerprinting of nearly everyone in Europe for biometric documents - did not even get into the draconian US Homeland Security package, their citizens were up in arms when these ideas were floated"



The EU Summit (a meeting of the 15 EU Prime Ministers) in Brussels on 25 March 2004 "nodded" through in the afternoon the "Declaration on combating terrorism" and moved on to other matters that concerned them more (like the EU Constitution).

The "Declaration" was made available to Brussels-based journalists on the afternoon on Wednesday 24 March and was adopted 24 hours later by the EU Summit - which makes everything in it politically binding on the member states and constitutionally binding on EU institutions.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"This method of decision-making is totally undemocratic. The Declaration was drawn up in secret, differences were discussed in secret, and the outcome was agreed in secret.

There was literally no time for newspapers to report what was on the table and there was no time at all for the people, civil society, and parliaments to discuss the issues or make their views known.

This "Declaration" contains measures which will affect the civil liberties and fundamental rights of the people of Europe. Maybe people will accept them but maybe they will not and decide that this is a "bridge too far".

What is quite extraordinary is that the two most intrusive measures in the pipeline - mandatory retention of communications data and the compulsory fingerprinting of nearly everyone in Europe for biometric documents - did not even get into the draconian US Homeland Security package, their citizens were up in arms when these ideas were floated.

The EU is at a cross roads, eight out of the ten countries who are joining on 1 May have lived under totalitarian regimes and think they are joining a "democratic" Europe, but are they going to be joining a Europe where Prime Ministers decide what is best for them without any input from people or parliaments?"

The "Declaration on combating terrorism" contained only minor changes from the draft available on Wednesday and analysed in Statewatch's "Scoreboard" which found that 28 of the 57 measures had little or nothing to do with terrorism. The changes were:

- point 1, European day is added
- point 3, clarification of protection of EU citizens abroad
- point 9 has a quicker deadline for Solana to submit proposals
- point 10 includes dialogue with 3rd states, UN SCR 1373
- point 14 includes the name of the tsar


Documentation



1. The "Declaration on combating terrorism" agreed at the EU Summit on 25 March 2004: Full-text (pdf)
2.
Statewatch "Scoreboard" and examines 57 planned measures: Statewatch Scoreboard on terrorism and civil liberties (pdf)
3.
Statewatch analysis (pdf)
4.
"Scoreboard" and analysis (42 pages, in one pdf file)
5. Draft Declaration on combating terrorism, Council of the European Union, doc no 7486 REV 4, dated 22 March 2004:
7486-rev4 (pdf)
6. Commission Action paper, dated 18 March 2004:
Commission Action Plan (pdf)
7. Commission background document:
Commission SEC 332 (pdf)

Background


1. The undemocratic nature of policy-making through EU Summits is examined in:
The Tampere Summit (pdf)
2. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU):
Patriot Act (link)
3. ACLU
"Keep America Safe and Free" (link)

Press coverage



1. 26.3.04: The Guardian
2. 26.3.04: The Independent
3. 26.3.04: eupolitix.com
4. 25.3.04: Mail & Guardian (Africa)
5. 25.3.04:
ChannelNewsAsia
6. 25.3.04: EU set to agree sweeping --terror policies:
Guardian
7. 25.3.04:
euobserver.com
8.31.3.04: Klassekampen
9. 2.4.04: Guardian

Statewatch News online | Join Statewatch news e-mail list | Download a free sample issue of Statewatch bulletin

Statewatch does not have a corporate view, nor does it seek to create one, the views expressed are those of the author.
Statewatch is not responsible for the content of external websites and inclusion of a link does not constitute an endorsement.