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European Commission Meets to Find Ways to Stop US Illegal Rendition
EuroParl (European Parliamen)
December 19, 2006

Following the publication of the first draft of Parliament's final report on CIA extraordinary renditions in Europe, European Commission Vice-President Franco Frattini met MEPs on 19 December to discuss future legal measures to prevent the use of European countries by the CIA for the illegal detention and transport of prisoners. MEPs highlighted the Commission's positive cooperation on this issue, contrasting it with the passivity of Council and most EU Member State government representatives.

As part of the Commissioner's strategy to avoid breaching fundamental rights in the fight against terrorism, Mr Frattini announced that he and Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot will launch by early 2007 "a public consultation" to collect facts on how Member States implement their national rules concerning the control of civil aviation. "Once the consultation process is over the Commission will publish an assessment report with conclusions on whether or not national policies uphold fundamental rights". Mr Frattini said he was aware that the Commission has no responsibility over national anti-terrorism law or bilateral agreements but stressed that drafting an evaluation report on how national laws are applied could be very positive, a statement that was endorsed by most MEPs during the debate.
 
Wolfgang Kreissl-Dörfler (PES, DE) thanked Mr Frattini and added: "I would like to see your proposals in writing and highlight them on our report. The important thing is to decide how to proceed in the future, when the mandate of our committee is over and new facts on extraordinary renditions are disclosed".
 
Transparency of intelligence services?
 
Commenting on the role played by some of Europe's national secret services on CIA extraordinary renditions, Commissioner Frattini said: "I know that the discipline of security and intelligence security services does not come under the EU's responsibility and that it is very much part of the national sovereignty of Member States, but this does not prevent the EU institutions from promoting an in-depth political dialogue on the limits and legal actions of these services and the fact that they need to respect life and human dignity".
 
However, when answering questions by Giusto Catania (GUE/NGL, IT) and rapporteur Claudio Fava (PES, IT), Mr Frattini added that creating a "code of conduct" for all secret services in the EU was not feasible:  "Who would scrutinize the respect for such code of conduct? A judge? The government who is directly responsible for the intelligence service?", he asked.
 
Legal framework
 
Echoing Parliament's draft report, Mr Frattini stressed the need for all Member States to ratify the existing EU-US agreements on extradition and on mutual legal assistance. Furthermore, the Commissioner also encouraged EU countries to ratify the UN Convention, adopted this summer, on the protection of all persons from forced disappearance.
 
Finally, the Commissioner highlighted the need to clarify in EU legislation the differences between "state" flights (operated by defence or foreign affairs ministries), for which the EU institutions have no responsibility,  and "civil" ones, which could be redefined by the EU and to which Member States have the right to apply regular domestic checks.  Mr Fava responded that the problem is not the lack of clear legal definitions, but rather the fact that most flights operated by secret services to transfer prisoners pretended to be private "civil" flights when landing at European airports: "And yet Member States never exercised their right to subject such planes to checks. The Commission should think of a proposal for new legislation to ensure these verifications are done in practice", he said.


19/12/2006
Temporary Committee on the alleged use of European countries by the CIA for the transport and illegal detention of prisoners
Chair : Carlos Coelho (EPP-ED, PT)

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