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[ 12. Sep 2009 ]

Stockholm Programme moves quickly towards adoption

stockholm programme: increase of surveillance

The timetables for the Stockholm Programme have become a great deal clearer since the return of the Parliament following the summer break and the communication between the Swedish Presidency and relevant parliamentary committees.

 

The Programme aims to set the priorities for a variety of justice issues (including criminal and civil law enforcement cooperation) for the period 2010-2014 and beyond. This initiative takes over from the 2004-2009 Hague Programme. Little new information about the potential content of the final document has been communicated so far, despite the fact that the broad direction of the document is expected to be finalised by the end of October. How any subsequent proposals will be scrutinised by the EU institutions will depend heavily on the outcome of the Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

Beatrice Ask, Swedish Minister for Justice, presented the plans of the Presidency to the European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee on 2 September and focused on the Stockholm Programme. Minister Ask made great efforts to assuage fears regarding the scope and balance of the Programme, repeatedly referring to the need to place the rights of the citizen at the centre of all decision-making on this issue and to ensure that measures that are proposed are properly justified. MEP Sophie In't Veld (ALDE, Netherlands) was very sceptical about the assurances given by the minister. In particular, she said that such an approach would be a break with tradition and that experience to date on SWIFT, ACTA, CIA renditions and that the evaluation of current anti-terrorism policies suggested that little has changed.

At the meeting, Minister Ask said that the incoming Spanish Presidency would be relied upon to propose concrete projects on the basis of the priorities in the Programme. Spanish MEP De Mera (EPP, Spain) offered the full and unequivocal support of the largest political group in the Parliament. There were various interventions regarding the status of Europol and whether it should become an EU agency. The Minister was clear in her answer, stating that Europol was and would remain intergovernmental. As regards ACTA, she was surprisingly direct, criticising the lack of transparency of negotiations and stating that border searches of MP3 players would not take place as a result of this planned agreement. She appeared to imply that fears concerning ACTA are unfounded and caused by lack of transparency.

It is expected that the bulk of discussions in the Council will be completed in late October, with an informal adoption by Justice Ministers in November and a formal adoption by the Council in December. The Civil Liberties Committee, with input from the Constitutional Affairs and Legal Affairs Committees, will produce an own-initiative report on the Declaration. It is expected that this will be adopted in Committee in November and in Plenary in December, although this is highly likely to change. There will be an inter-parliamentary hearing in the Parliament in October, involving representatives of the European Parliament and national Parliaments. The Green Group in the European Parliament will also hold a hearing, probably in October.

This article was published first on 09. Sep 2009 in :: edri.org.