Mos Maiorum: MEPs "deplore" Council's "buck passing of responsibilities"
Two MEPs from the GUE/NGL group of MEPs have written an open letter to critcise the "buck passing of responsibilities" over Joint Operation Mos Maiorum, after being told by the Council of the EU that they should submit questions to the Italian government.
Italian officials formally proposed the operation in the Council's Law Enforcement Working Party, but the Council has denied having any role as the operation was "conducted under the responsibility of the Italian State".
A number of MEPs from a variety of political groups submitted written parliamentary questions last year to try to obtain further information from the Council. Many were answered in December and all the questions received the same response:
"The attention of the Honourable Members is drawn to the fact that the joint police operation Mos Maiorum is being conducted under the responsibility of the Italian State, with the support of those Member States which have decided to participate. The Council as an institution has therefore not taken any decision in its setting up, nor is it in a position to comment on the way it is managed.
"The competent courts, along with the Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, are responsible for overseeing Member States' application of Union law...." 
A number of MEPs are still awaiting answers to questions.
Following press attention last year Frontex also distanced itself from the operation, saying its "goals and way of execution are not within the mandate of Frontex."
The final report on Mos Maiorum, published today by Statewatch, says that Frontex's support came in the form of "a final analytical assessment as a chapter of the Final report of the Presidency."  The initial proposal said the operation would be coordinated by the Italian Interior Ministry "in close cooperation" with Frontex. 
The letter from the GUE/NGL MEPs, Barbara Spinelli of Italy and Kostas Chrysogonos of Greece, invites the Italian Presidency and the Italian Permanent Representation at the Council to comment on "the allegations of their exclusive participation in planning the operation," and the MEPs note that they "deplore this situation of opacity". The full text is reproduced below and as a PDF.
- 'A huge number of migrants: over 19,000 people apprehended during joint police operation Mos Maiorum', Statewatch News Online, 23 January 2015
- 'On Monday 13 October, the EU's latest migrant hunt begins', Statewatch News Online, October 2014
- 'Claiming asylum after interception is "abuse" of procedure, claims joint police operation report', Statewatch News Online, April 2014
- 'EU joint police operations target irregular migrants', Statewatch Journal, vol 23 no 3/4, Febuary 2014
 'Accountability gap: Joint Police Operation "Mos Maiorum"', Statewatch News Online, 9 January 2015
 Italian delegation, 'Final report on Joint Operation "MOS MAIORUM"', 5474/15, 22 January 2015
 'NOTHING TO DO WITH US STATEMENT from: FRONTEX on Joint Operation "Mos Maiorum"', Statewatch News Online, October 2014
Comment to the reply of our written question and open letter to the current Presidency of the Council [PDF file]
The General Secretariat of the Council has sent the 10th of December its answer to the written question co-signed by Barbara Spinelli (GUE/NGL), Kostas Chrysogonos (GUE/NGL), Malin Björk (GUE/NGL), Martina Anderson (GUE/NGL) and Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL) on the Joint Police operation 'Mos Maiorum'. In the written answer, the Council declares that "the joint police operation Mos Maiorum is conducted under the responsibility of the Italian State (...). The Council as an institution has therefore not taken any decision in its setting up, nor is it in a position to comment on the way it is managed" finally "the competent courts, along with the Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, are responsible for overseeing Member States' application of Union law".
We Barbara Spinelli and Kostas Chrysogonos (GUE/NGL) deplore this buck passing of responsibilities. While the Italian Presidency has openly acknowledged its capital role in planning the operation, this does not entail, as such, the complete de-responsibilisation of the Council as an institution.
Not only does the Italian Presidency represent the Council with the other EU institutions, the launch of Mos Maiorum was agreed upon during a Council's Law Enforcement Working Party and, according to the leaked proposal from 10 July, Member States had to confirm their participation also to the General Secretariat of the Council thus further proving the Council's involvement in this operation.
We would therefore like to know what does the Italian Presidency and Italian Permanent Representation think of the aforementioned written answer and whether they plan to comment the allegations of their exclusive participation in planning the operation.
The Italian Presidency's programme was supposed to "promote a more active role of the European Union in areas where the European initiative adds value, such as protection of fundamental rights as well as migration and asylum policies. In this context, the Italian Presidency intends to work at developing a genuine solidarity at a European level and promoting a European migration policy".
Were they to confirm their exclusive participation in the programme, we find it despicable that the soon-to-be replaced Italian Presidency has only focused its efforts - with regards to migration and asylum policies - on the aforementioned joint police operation.
Lastly we deplore the current framework of these joint operations, part of the EU's Internal Security Strategy, frames this situation of opacity and lack of legitimation of internal security policies.
We therefore call for the block of the renewal of the Internal Security Strategy:
- Until there is an evaluation on factual basis of the real impact of each measure taken in each Member States of the measures adopted in police cooperation in criminal matters before the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty (see Art 10 of Prot. 36 to the Lisbon Treaty)  and,
- The establishment of a consistent EU legislative policy - involving the European Parliament in co-decision - built on article 87 par. 2 (non-operational cooperation) TFUE is urgent to frame in a clearer way which are the obligations of the Member States and of the EU in this very sensitive domain. Also, the "Policy Cycle" should be better defined by law so that also the role of the European Agencies (including Frontex) could be better framed.
 The evaluation of these measures should comply with the requirements of art. 70 of the TFUE as recently implemented for the Schengen related measures
Support our work by making a one-off or regular donation to help us continue to monitor the state and civil liberties in Europe.
Search our database for more articles and information or subscribe to our mailing list for regular updates from Statewatch News Online.
We welcome contributions to News Online and comments on this website. Please feel free to get in touch.
Home | News Online | Journal | Observatories | Analyses | Database | SEMDOC | About Statewatch
© Statewatch ISSN 1756-851X. Personal usage as private individuals/"fair dealing" is allowed. We also welcome links to material on our site. Usage by those working for organisations is allowed only if the organisation holds an appropriate licence from the relevant reprographic rights organisation (eg: Copyright Licensing Agency in the UK) with such usage being subject to the terms and conditions of that licence and to local copyright law.