May 2011

EU internal free movement should not be sacrificed to disarray over migrants

The European Commission is to rush out on Wednesday a green paper on EU migration policy. This is in the context of the recent row between France and Italy over the arrival of some 30000 migrants and asylum seekers from North Africa in which France turned back migrants to whom Italy had issued temporary residence permits.

Last week Nicholas Sarkozy and Silvio Berlusconi jointly appealed to the European Commission for money and for a new clause in the Schengen zone agreement in order to allow for temporary reimposition of border checks if there is surge in migrants

Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman and London MEP Sarah Ludford said:

New stop & search powers should not replicate 'Section 44' abuses

To mark World Press Freedom Day 2011 campaign group 'I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist!" will hold a photographers' flashmob outside City Hall today to highlight the restrictions on street photography in public spaces due to counterterrorism laws.

Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 which allowed the police to stop and search people without reasonable suspicion in certain conditions was repealed by the LibDem-Conservative coalition government in January 2011. It was replaced with a more tightly defined power (Section 47a) allowing stop and search powers to be used when a senior police officer has reason to suspect a terrorist attack will take place.

7/7 coroner finds London starved of emergency medical funds

The coroner in charge of the inquest into the deaths of the 52 victims of the tragic 7 July 2005 London bombings Lady Justice Hallett has today given her verdict of 'unlawful killing' and delivered a set of recommendations.

London Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman who takes a strong interest in counterterrorism policy said:

"Bereaved relatives will hopefully derive some comfort from the coroner's finding that each victim would have died whatever time the emergency services had arrived and her praise for the courage of survivors passers-by and rescue workers."

Migration challenge does not justify destruction of Schengen

MEPs are today debating with the EU Hungarian presidency and the European Commission the EU's reaction to migration from North Africa. This includes the France-Italy squabble about the Schengen border-free zone and the accusation that a boat of 72 migrants was left to drift in open waters for 16 days without rescue so that most of them died.

The Commission has made proposals for an EU mechanism whereby EU countries could re-impose border checks in 'exceptional circumstances' which EU justice & home affairs ministers will discuss at an extraordinary meeting on Thursday.

Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman and London MEP Sarah Ludford said:

Sarah speaks in the European Parliament about Schengen and migration from North Africa

Sarah Ludford (ALDE). - Madam President like others I think that Commissioner Malmström is doing a very good job but I also feel in view of President Barroso's robust defence of Schengen free movement today that I do not really understand how the notion could possibly have taken hold that the Commission's proposed EU-level mechanism is going to make it easier to reintroduce internal border controls. Yet that notion has taken hold. It could not possibly be could it that different messages are being sent to different audiences one to MEPs maybe one to Paris and Rome? The EU's migration and asylum pressures ought to be capable of effective management by competent governments.

Sarah questions EU Commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis response on the EU's civilian and military rapid disaster response

Question by Sarah Ludford MEP to European Commissioner for Cooperation Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response Kristalina Georgieva on Civilian and military disaster response:

The conflict in Libya has shown the importance of Europe's ability to mobilise a range of resources for rapid reaction.

What is the Commission's assessment of the EU's progress in its ability to draw on both military and humanitarian capabilities in a coordinated way?

Has the suggestion of a permanent body to coordinate both civilian and military disaster response from the EU and Member States made any headway?

Denmark’s new border controls a populist race to bottom

The Danish government has announced that even though Denmark is part of the Schengen border-free area it will shortly reintroduce passport checks at its borders and build new border control facilities including video surveillance and number plate recognition for cars. It claims the move is in line with Schengen because customs officials will carry out checks randomly not systematically.

This comes after the row over North African migrants led France to reestablish checks on its border with Italy. The European Commission has allowed its subsequent green paper to be discussed by EU interior ministers today to be interpreted as advocating looser criteria for reintroducing internal border controls.

LibDems working to end homophobia

Tuesday 17 May marks international day against homophobia a day that recalls how much discrimination persists against people who are lesbian gay bisexual transgender or non-gendered.

Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman and London MEP Sarah Ludford Vice President of the Liberal Democrat LGBT group (DELGA) and an active member of the European Parliament lesbian & gay rights intergroup said:

Victims of crime deserve protection and justice across the EU

The European Commission will tomorrow publish a policy paper and draft legislation to strengthen and reinforce the rights of victims of crime across the EU.

Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman and London MEP Sarah Ludford said:

"All victims of crime - whether it be mugging assault rape domestic violence human trafficking or terrorist attack - must be given proper information and access to justice and where appropriate protection and compensation."