Basic rights in the EU (2001)

Lambert (Verts/ALE). - Mr President, my group certainly welcomes this report and will not be supporting the alternative resolution. We consider it to be a thorough and wide-ranging piece of work that highlights many positive points about the state of human rights within the European Union, even if many parts of it make extremely uncomfortable reading.

As others have said, it is essential that we look at ourselves very critically, at least as carefully as we have been looking at accession countries and indeed third countries. We are critical about the human rights records of other governments, but seem very unwilling to criticise when it comes to the European Union itself.

I want to pick out some examples, such as the treatment of the Roma people. My country sees no problem in sending the Roma back to their countries of origin. It threatens to break up families. It lays on special chartered aircraft in order to deport them en masse and there is no follow-up to see what happens to them when they get back to their countries of origin. And yet we have criticised accession countries heavily for their treatment of the Roma people.

Mention has already been made of the asylum issue. When you read the comments in the explanatory statement, about my own Member State and others, many of them are critical. The UK Government, for example, recently introduced a human rights act. All proposed legislation is to be benchmarked against that act. Yet virtually everything that comes through is stamped as being fully compatible, even though it is obviously not. I hope that in Conclusion 9, where we refer to the Commission's decision to review its own legislative proposals against the criteria of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the Commission will be more rigorous in this than some Member States.

The comments about the accountability of police services make very uncomfortable reading, particularly when we are concerned with the core standards that people should expect across the European Union in, for example, the implementation of the European arrest warrant. I know that this report will be at least a recognition of some of the battles being fought in my own country by organisations such as INQUEST, where families are still trying to find out after many years what exactly happened when family members died in police custody, yet nothing is being made public and there is no proper retribution.

We welcome many of the recommendations in this report, particularly Conclusion 5, where we are looking at this report being incorporated in future into an early warning system on Articles 6 and 7 of the European Union Treaties, picking up petitions we have also had in the Committee on Petitions.

Jean Lambert