Fundamental rights: shameful manoeuvring of the French socialists (and others)

Update : The French S&D MEPs succeeded, to obtain the deletion of the 4th part. Shame on them. Further update after analysis of the votes. The governmental right wing parties (PPE and ECR) voted for the deletion of parts 2 and 4 as could be expected. The S&D (social-democrats) voted in most cases for keeping these parts and in particular part 4. Only 12 S&D MEPs voted to delete part 4, among which 10 French socialists. The deletion was obtained with a majority of only 4 votes. The responsibility of the French socialists is thus total. Thanks nonetheless to those who did not follow governmental orders. The Moraes resolution remains a good text overall.

An apparently minor event may highlight the full range of an historical disaster. The European Parliament will vote tomorrow on the Draft resolution of Claude Moraes on surveillance. Claude Moraes was rapporteur of the European Parliament work on the Snowden revelations. In his report adopted in 2014, he recommended to suspend the Safe Harbor agreement1 and to put in place a directive on the protection of whistleblowers. Neither the European Commission nor the European Council followed these recommandations. On the contrary, they worked in the opposition direction, for instance working on the protection of business secrets against whistleblowers. One had to wait for the European Court of Justice decision invalidating the Safe Harbor agreement to see some moves from these sides, and even then it might be only to put in place urgently a new Safe Harbor agreement, none better than the previous one. Meanwhile, various European States, in particular France, the UK and the Netherlands have adopted laws legalising mass surveillance practices and opening the door to yet more extreme abuses in this domain.

The draft resolution of Claude Moraes is a new and welcome act of resistance against this downward slide. It includes in particular this article :

3. Is concerned at some of the recent laws in some Member States that extend surveillance capabilities of intelligence bodies, including, in France, the new intelligence law adopted by the National Assembly on 24 June 2015, several provisions of which, according to the Commission, raise important legal questions, in the UK, the adoption of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 and the subsequent court decision that certain articles were unlawful and to be disapplied, and, in the Netherlands, the proposals for new legislation to update the Intelligence and Security Act of 2002; reiterates its call on all Member States to ensure that their current and future legislative frameworks and oversight mechanisms governing the activities of intelligence agencies are in line with the standards of the European Convention on Human Rights and all relevant Union legislation; asks the Commission to launch without delay an assessment of all provisions of the French intelligence law and to determine its compliance with European primary and secondary law;

Will thus the social-democrats MEP find back a capability to oppose putting in place mass suspicion and surveillance mechanisms which, like other parties, they promote where they are in power. Assuming it would be counting without the capability of the French S&D MEPs to keep going deeper in their moral and political disaster. The French socialist MEPs have requested and obtained from the S&D group for the vote on article 3 to be split in 4 parts, highlighted above by the alternance of normal and boldface fonts. They thus hope to obtain the rejection of the criticism and the call for an enquiry on the legality of the French law on security services with respect to European law.

Fortunately, there will be a nomimal vote on each of the parts. We will be able to make accountable each MEP who accepts receiving orders to work against fundamental rights from his or her government. Every MEP can act with what is just the basic respect for fundamental rights by adopting article 3 as a whole and in particular the second and fourth parts.

This post is also available in: French

  1. Agremment negotiated that allowed for US companies to transfer and process data of European citizens without compliance with either the letter or the principles of European data protection. []

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