Schengen: MEPs have, by their childish reaction, proved the governments' concerns as justified
Posted, June 14, 2012 @ 14:00
The European Parliament has decided to put its own self-aggrandisement ahead of the safety and security of European citizens, Timothy Kirkhope MEP, European Conservatives and Reformists group justice and home affairs spokesman, said today.
The parliament's group leaders, by majority decision, decided to block progress on five major Justice and Home Affairs dossiers, including the EU's counter-terrorism Passenger Name Records (PNR) agreement which Mr Kirkhope is leading through the parliament. Other important measures that have been held to ransom are the 2013 JHA budget, the European Investigation Order (which would facilitate cross-border criminal investigations), measures to strengthen cooperation regarding cyber attacks against information systems, and the reform package of the Schengen zone itself.
The tantrum displayed by MEPs is in response to a unanimous decision by national governments last week to change the legal base for the Schengen Evaluation Mechanism from Article 77 of the treaty to Article 70 - meaning that MEPs would only have a consultative role.
In a heated debate in the parliament on Tuesday, many hysterical MEPs said that the action by national governments was tantamount to a 'declaration of war' on the parliament. The ECR's speaker in the debate, Anthea McIntyre MEP, urged a calm reaction from MEPs. She said:
"This is a time for cool heads and calm consideration. We should not react with a childish tantrum and throw our toys out of the pram. These are very challenging times for the EU and we need good working relations between the institutions. The first step should be to investigate the legal consequences of the Council's action."
Following this morning's decision by the Conference of Presidents (which ECR chairman Martin Callanan opposed), Timothy Kirkhope said:
"The European Parliament is now threatening public safety in order to make a political point. MEPs are putting their own self-aggrandisement ahead of safety and security.
"MEPs have, by their childish reaction, proved the governments' concerns as justified. If they are not capable of exercising their powers in a rational and responsible way is it any surprise that the council wants to sideline them?
"I was not consulted before my report on EU PNR was blocked by people that have had no involvement in the negotiations.
"We had some sympathies with the concerns of MEPs. In particular, we do believe that there was a role for MEPs in the Schengen Evaluation Mechanism. However, by throwing their toys out of the pram, MEPs have cut off their noses to spite their faces.
"In this time of crisis, surely we should all be working together to serve our constituents. Instead we are engaging in what the EU does best: another petty interinstitutional navel gazing exercise.
"We have no wish to see the Schengen agreement unpicked. However, this latest debacle is about the parliament protecting its power base, not about protecting Schengen. It is frankly pathetic."