The ECR Group has continuously been the voice of reason within the European Parliament when it comes to enhancing Europe’s internal and external security. The ECR believes that the expedient and thorough sharing of information between Member States law enforcements authorities is essential in the fight against cross border crime, cybercrime, and terrorism. Keeping Europe’s citizens safe from the threat of violence and criminality must be a priority for the European Union.
Since the formation of the ECR Group, we have pointed out the flaws in the EU’s migration system and been the voice of reform and change for the Common European Asylum System. As one of the ECR Group’s founding principles, this is a key priority. The EU system currently in place is not effective in dealing with the modern challenges of globalisation, regional conflicts and poverty, and mass migration.
First and foremost we need a migration system which respects the voice and wishes of its Member States and its citizens. For any EU migration system to be sustainable, then it needs to have the full backing of all of its Member States and the people of Europe. The EU cannot continue to impose an immigration system which is backed by only a few of its Member States. A system of cooperation rather than compulsion must prevail.
Instead, the EU should be focusing on getting the basics right. The ECR believes a more sustainable level of immigration to the EU can be achieved if:
The ECR Group understands that when it comes to protecting the integrity of the Schengen area, maintaining freedom of movement and ensuring the internal security of the EU, protecting the EU’s external border is of utmost importance. Thanks to the work of ECR Group, Member States are now obliged to carry out systematic checks against relevant databases at the external borders. This measure was a response to the rise of terrorist threats in Europe. This measure will ensure that terrorist foreign fighters, irregular migrants and human traffickers, will be detected at the external border.
The ECR Group believes that protecting the citizens of the EU, does not just mean preventing and prosecuting crimes, but ensuring that we look after the victims of terrorism after these tragic events have taken place.
The ECR was a leading voice in securing a million euro pilot project that will provide vital services for the protection of victims of terrorism by establishing a Terrorism Response Coordination Centre. This centre will help national authorities implement EU legislation designed to protect the victims of terrorism, and provide victim support services such as counselling. The centre will provide the necessary expertise and training to assist member states on the spot in the event of a terrorist attack.
The ECR Group understands that in order for immigration in the EU to be sustainable, and for the genuine and most vulnerable asylum seekers to be able to be helped first by the EU, it is essential that Member States are able to return failed asylum seekers to their country of origin. The ECR led important legislation which provides Member States with a standard European travel document to speed up the return of non-EU nationals staying irregularly in EU Member States without valid passports or identity cards. A key aim of the ECR Group was to strengthen the form’s security features and technical safeguards, so as to promote its acceptance by third countries.
Before the introduction of this document, third countries were reluctant to accept the return documents provided by Member States, for reasons that include inadequate security details and varying formats. However, this document addresses many of these flaws in the system. Whilst this is not a magic solution, it is an important step towards combatting abuse of the EU’s asylum system, and increases the EU’s ability to reduce the number of failed asylum seekers still residing in the EU. Since this document has been introduced by Member States, the number of returns has increased.
The ECR Group was the leading political force for the introduction of the Passenger Name Records (PNR) deal between EU Member States. The EU-PNR system requires Member States to exchange basic passenger information between airlines and police authorities before a flight takes off in order to detect, prevent, and prosecute serious crime and terrorism. PNR data includes basic passenger information such as an individual’s route, travel dates and method of payment. PNR data has helped to capture hundreds of murderers, pedophiles, human traffickers, sexual attackers, kidnappers, drug dealers, and major terrorists including those involved in the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the foiled Times Square bomber.
The ECR Group steered the adoption of new rules through the European Parliament which gives national authorities the power to establish quickly and efficiently whether another Member State holds criminal records on a non-EU citizen entering their country. The European Criminal Records Information System is an important tool for European prosecutors, judges and police forces in order to prevent the movement of criminals across Europe and aid with prosecutions taking place.
The new rules adopted allow other agencies such as EUROPOL and EUROJUST the ability to access this information. This is an important step in increasing interconnectivity between Member States law enforcement authorities and therefore, increase the EU’s ability to fight cross
The ECR has also been keen to ensure that throughout all of these proposals that the highest possible data protection standards are in place, and that the rights and privacy of EU citizens is respected. The ECR group believes that protecting privacy and data should go hand in hand with making use of data by law enforcement authorities.