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Home arrow newsitems arrow EUROCORPS Commander +EU JHA Head to EuroFora: Lisbon Treaty's Human Rights +Security/Defence horizon

EUROCORPS Commander +EU JHA Head to EuroFora: Lisbon Treaty's Human Rights +Security/Defence horizon

Written by ACM
Wednesday, 02 December 2009
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*Strasbourg/CoE/Angelo Marcopolo/- Europe can better defend Citizen's Human Rights if there is a political will to really use Lisbon Treaty's new possibilities, said in substance to "EuroFora", EUROCORPS' new Commander for 2009-2010, Lieutenant General Hans-Lothar Domroese, and EU Commission's acting Director for Justice, Freedom and Security, Alain Brun, speaking in parallel, only hours from EU New Institutions' entry into force.

They both stressed in Strasbourg, headquarters of the European Court of Human Rights and of EUROCORPS, that, now, with Lisbon Treaty, new horizons on Human Rights and EU's Security and Defence have become possible and could evolve fast, mainly via the new method of "reinforced cooperations", but effective developments, and their timing, depend on political will....

In addition to EU's new Charter on Fundamental Freedoms, which entered into force today, Lisbon Treaty makes it possible and incites the EU to also become a member of the older and larger panEuropean Convention on Human Rights :

 A "useful" move both in order to ensure a "coherence" on EU Citizens' rights' case-law between the EU Court of Justice at Luxembourg and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, and because "they don't cover exactly the same areas", Brun observed to "EuroFora".

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Significantly, he spoke on the sidelines of a joint EU - CoE Conference on Childrens' Rights, fex. vis a vis Adoptions, trafficking, etc, where participants (EU/CoE Officials, politicians, experts, NGOs, journalists, and even individuals whose life had been seriously affected by various related issues) held "hot" discussions highlighting various problems still in need of the right answers, well beyond an International Hague's Treaty and a specific CoE's Convention, which still left several unanswered questions open

For the Legal, technical matters, "we have been prepared since a long time ago, so that we can move quite fast" for EU's accession to the ECHR, the experienced EU's Head of JHA's services told us.

According to CoE's sources, this might, eventually, include, fex. also a guarantee that EU institution's acts would be monitored by a special EuroCourt's Chamber composed by EuroJudges coming only from EU Member States, and not from other, Third Countries, among PanEuropean CoE's 47 Member States.

- "But the ratification process might take longer than scheduled", Brun warned. Eventual delays might come "not so much from EU Member States, since they have all, already accepted Lisbon Treaty which provides for EU's accession to the ECHR, but from others" : The PanEuropean "CoE (under whose auspices works EuroCourt) has 47 Member States, i.e. 20 Countries more than the EU (fex., since the end of the "Cold War" and Germany's and Europe's ReUnification : Russia, Ukraine, and other former "Eastern European" Countries, but also Turkey, etc., since the particular era when the "Cold War" had started in the Past : 1950).

So, "we don't know, in advance, whether there might be any objection or delay from anyone among these 20 more Third Countries, which are now members of the CoE, but not of the EU", he observed.

That's one of the reasons for which "the ratification (of EU's entry into the ECHR, which will open the possibility for EU Citizens to challenge EU Institutions' acts if they affect their Human Rights) might take as long as about 3 or 5 Years more", the EU Top Official carefully estimated.

 - "In fact, it all depends on Political factors", Alain Brun concluded, pointing at the incoming EU Commissioner on Justice and Home affairs, Mrs Viviane Reding from Luxembourg, who has been appointed in order to succeed to Jacques Barrot from France in the framework of the New EU Commission from January 2010.
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    But developments might be faster on another, partly complementary, issue of particular importance to Strasbourg-headquartered European bodies : EU Defence and Security capabilities, mainly with EUROCORPS, the multi-modal and multi-national European Army's "Etat Major" :

    - After Strasbourg Treaty entered into force, at the beginning of 2009, ratified by all 5 "Framework Nations" (France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain), to which are added other 5 "Sending" Nations represented by Liaison Officers, while EU Parliament was voting a landmark Resolution calling for the creation of a European Defence and Security policy based on the use of EUROCORPS' tool,  it has a Legal frame and Democratic support for further developments of a European Defence, observed his New Chief :

    - "What is needed now is that somewhere among the framework nations, emerges a "Driving Force" to boost the European Defence and Security policy", stressed from the outset EUROCORPS' new Commander for 2009-2010, Lieutenant General Hans-Lothar Domroese from Germany, speaking to "EuroFora".

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Perhaps significantly of EUROCORPS' Enlargement possibilities, his new Commander took over his duties by succeeding to a Spanish General, just before Spain chairs the EU in the 1st semester of 2010, and was present at a CoE event on the "double Anniversary of Romania's National Day and of EU Lisbon Treaty, on December 1st 2009", as CoE's Deputy Secretary General, Mrs Maud de Boer-Bucquichio observed

    Domroese, speaking the day Lisbon Treaty entered into force, akcnowledged that the possibility it provides for "Reinforced Cooperations" speaheaded by initiatives undertaken by some pioneer EU Member States and open to all other willing EU Member Countries is an adequate and efficient tool in that direction.

    - "But, in fact, it all depends on Political WIll", EUROCORPS' new Commander warned.

    Domroese, who has already served even at Afghanistan for a few months at the beginning of 2009, aqreed however with "EuroFora" that, at least at the start, EU's Defence capabilities' development can become soon Popular among EU Citizens, fex. by protecting EU's external borders, intervening in Peace-keeping operations in preference around Europe's Neighbouring Countries, (fex. in Cyprus, if a Peace deal for its ReUnification is made with a European/International Guarantee), helping to face "Natural Desasters", etc

    The new EUROCORPS' Commander, who took over his duties on September 2009 for 2 crucial years, speaking at the CoE to "EuroFora" appeared optimistic but also careful to further enhance both EUROCORPS' capabilities and political support in 2010.

    ESDP was the only one among France's 2008 EU Presidency's priorities who did not had enough time to be fulfilled then, particularly after it had to struggle (successfully) both against the unforeseen Global Economic Crisis and to stop an unprecedented Russia - Georgia War.

    Significantly, EU Parliament has recently decided to create, for the 1st time, a specific "Security and Defence Committee", which had been initially entrusted to the experienced German f. MEP Carl Von Wogau, from nearby Fribourg, (the "father" of EU's Monetary Union among MEPs, since he had worked for 10 Years as former President of EU Parliament's Economic Committee for the creation of EuroZone, before starting to help build EU's Defence).  After June 2009 EU Elections, EU Parliament elected as new President of its Security and Defence Committee the mainstream new MEP Arnould Danjean, from the Governing French Party UMP, a specialist of ESDP and GeoPolitical issues with personal experience even on the spot (Balkans, etc), who is well known among French President Nicolas Sarkozy's close councilors, as well informed sources from the Presidential Elysee palace said to "EuroFora".

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    An "Eugenic" loophole Amendment, which might expose to Dangers reminiscent of "3rd Reich's" notorious Genetic Abuses, hidden at the last minute inside an otherwise Good, larger Health policy Package scheduled to be voted on Thursday, was strongly denounced by a coalition of MEPs from various Political Groups and Countries, in a Press Conference held this afternoon at EU Parliament in Strasbourg.

    Mainly calling to "Select Human Embryos", via "Genetic Counselling" and "pre-implantation" Techniques including "Genetic Tests", in order to "Eradicate Hereditary rare Diseases", it might open ways to Dangerous Practices in Future, they denounced in substance.

    But they also made it clear that a much larger Report inside which this Controversial Amendment "No 15" was added in dubious circumstances, officialy destinated to struggle against "Rare Diseases", and drafted by Professor Antonios Trakatellis, was otherwise "an Excellent Report", aiming at a "completely Uncontroversial target" of Health policy on which "all MEPs and Experts are united, believing that Europe should act" to protect People's Health (See "EuroFora"'s earlier News).

    The controversy came at a particularly delicate moment for the EU in relation to Citizens, at the eve of June 2009 EU Elections, and shortly before Ireland re-votes for "Lisbon Treaty"..    

- Denouncing risks of "an Eugenic demand, very similar to what we had during the 3rd Reich in Germany, but now coming from some Scientisists themselves", German ChristianDemocrat/EPP MEP Dr. Peter Liese stressed that critical MEPs were against "Eugenic" engineering with "Selection of Human Embryos", and anything which might ultimately lead up to to a "Selection of Human Race". It doesn't help to "eradicate" Human Lives, he added.


    Several Experts and NGOs expressed "Deep Concern", as f;ex. DR M.C. Cornel of the "European Society of Human Genetics", which stressed, on this occasion, that "the importance of Non-Directiveness in Reproductive issues is a Central characteristic of Human Genetics, after the Atrocities committed in the name of Genetics in the first half or the 20th Century".

     - "This is completely Unacceptable", stressed Italian Liberal MEP Vittorio Prodi, on the Controversial Amendment, also because pushes to "eliminate early Human Life", as he noted.

     - "This opens a Dangerous Road, rather a Motorway", denounced Danish MEP Mrs Margrette Auken, from the "Greens", observing that various similar attempts were made in the Past "not only in Germany, but also in several other Countries, "even at the 1970ies", "f.ex. on forced Sterilisation of Roma" People, and other criticisable situations f.ex. in the UK, in Sweden, etc. as she said.

    + Other NGOs, as f.ex. "LebenHilfe" from Berlin, added that, among various other Risks, could also be that, by exploiting the pre-implantation Genetic Diagnostics and the Selection of "healthy" Embryos, some may "propagate" several "Eugenic" aims, starting f.ex. by pushing to eradicate Human Livies which might "Cost too much" to preserve, ultimately exposing to dangers reminiscent of the "3rd Reich"'s atrocious abuses.

    In consequence, ChristianDemocrats/EPP and "Green" MEPs "decided by Majority to vote against" this Controversial Amendment, anounced to Journalists the 5 MEPs who participated in the Press Conference, representing a wide spectrum, from Liberals to "Greens" and ChristianDemocrats, and from Hungary, Italy, Germany and Danemark up to Ireland (Gay Mitchell), etc.
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    Hungarian ChristianDemocrat MEP Laszlo Surjan said "that it was "Suddenly, at the End of the Procedure" in Committee, that "appeared this (Controversial) Amendment, which has nothing to do" with the main purpose of the Report, on which all agreed.

    He denounced an "Unhonest" move, and called to "avoid this kind of unacceptable situations". Nobody should "Select People", Surjan stressed.

    - "We (MEPs) had No Chance to Discuss" this last-minute Amendment earlier added at a Committee's level, said German MEP Peter Liese

    Speaking to "EuroFora", Dr. Liese, the Spokesman of the ChristianDemocrat/EPP Group in EU Parliament, said that MEPs didn't oppose other references of the Report f.ex. on "Genetic Tests", because they were "no proposals" to impose them, while, on the contrary, there was "a Problem" if anyone attempted to "impose" f.ex. this or that Genetic Technique and "Genetic Counselling", etc. to the People on human reproduction.
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The precise Text :
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    Controversial parts of Amendment No 15 ask mainly "to lead finally to the Eradication" of "Hereditary" "rare diseases", "through Genetic Counselling .., and ..pre-Implantation Selection of healthy Embryos".

    But  EU Rapporteur Professor Trakatellis, said to "EuroFora" that fears should be alleviated by Guarantees that all this should be done only "where appropriate", when it's "not contrary to existing National Law", and "always on a Voluntary basis", according to other Parts of the Amendment.

    He stressed that the main aim was to allow "a free and informed choice of persons involved", without imposing them anything :  - "It's not an obligatory, but advisary" text, he said.

    To make that point clear, he was ready, in agreement with many MEPs, to eventually drop at least that part of the controversial Amendment which initially called for "efforts to ..lead finally to the Eradication of those rare diseases" "which are Hereditary".

    But, until late Wednesday evening, reportedly together with many other MEPs, he stood by all the rest of the controversial Amendment, (fex. on the "Genetic Counselling" and the "pre-implantation Selection of healthy Embryos"), so that critical MEPs, going from ChristianDemocrats as Dr. Liese, to "Greens" or "Ind/Dem", observed to "EuroFora" that "this was not enough" to close the dangerous loophole.

    Particularly since, as Professor Trakatellis noted himself, "this is already allowed to the U.K.", and "other National Legislations would probably follow, sooner or later" in a similar direction. As for a general call to "Eradicate Hereditary rare Diseases", this "should happen, at any case, in practice, de facto", to protect public Health.

    On the contrary, "our goal should be to help patients suffering from rare diseases, not to eradicate the patients. In case of genetic disease risk, the decision should not be guided by scenarios" made by politicians. "Perents who may decide to accept a child, even if handicapped or with genetic disease, must be respected and supported with solidarity", critical MEPs stated.

    - "Any Pressure" to "a patient or couple (who "should be able to make an informed choice consistent with their own values"),"from health Professionals, Public Health Policies or Governemental Institutions, or Society at large, should be avoided", stresses the "European Society for Human Genetics".

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Each MEP's vote will be registered !

-----------------------------------   

The Socialist Group requested a "Split vote" on the Amendment 15, first without, and afterwards with the words "lead finally to the Eradication" etc.


    But the first "split vote" leaves intact all the other parts of the Controversial Amendment, (i.e. "Genetic Counselling", "Selection of healthy Embryos", etc).

    That's why, 3 Groups of MEPs : ChristianDemocrats/EPP, "Greens/EFA", and "Ind/Dem", have asked for "Roll Call Votes", on everything regarding the Controversial Amendment No 15, and on the final outcome of the resulting Report as amended, which will register all the individual positions to be taken by each MEP.   

Something which will obviously make each MEP think twice before voting for one or another choice, to be sure that he/she will make the right choice in front of EU Citizens, particularly at these pre-Election times...


    Crucial Votes were scheduled between 12 Noon and 1 p.m. local Strasbourg time, in the middle of a long series of various other Reports, and after a long Public Debate on the larger Health policy package, from 9 to 11.50 am.

    The specific Report inside which was hidden the controversial Amendment is due to be debated between 11 and 12 am.

    So that more last-minute Surprises may not be excluded a priori...

    Particularly at the present Historic moment, when even the Institutional Future of the EU depends on the result of a second Referendum on "Lisbon Treaty", later this year, in ...Ireland, a mainly Catholic country, where People are particularly sensitive in such kind of socio-cultural and values issues...
 

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     (Draft due to be updated).
 
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