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EU citizens' personal data and fundamental rights must be protected in the fight against terrorism


29 Sep 2008


Justice & Home Affairs
EU Priorities 2020

"I am very disappointed at this new proposal from the Council. It does not consider core demands from the European Parliament and it proposes a level of data protection that is lower than Council of Europe agreement 108," said GUE/NGL MEP Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann (Germany) speaking during this morning's debate on data protection in the European Parliament. "Therefore, this proposal is unacceptable; this view is broadly shared by the Parliament and Council should take heed of this."

She said the framework decision must also apply to national data processing, "otherwise the whole proposal makes no sense". In terms of categories of sensitive data such as a person's ethnic origin, political convictions or religious views, "they should not - or only in exceptional cases and under strict conditions - be processed at all."

Ms Kaufmann concluded that it was high time that the Council followed through with a framework decision. "We need a high level of data protection and this has not yet been achieved."

Speaking on the framework decision on terrorism, Italian GUE/NGL MEP Giusto Catania emphasised that the vast majority of terrorist attacks committed in the EU had nothing to do with Al Qaeda. "The analogy between Islam and terrorism is made too often, including by this house, and must be stopped," he said. "Our strategy over the last few years has not been successful in addressing terrorism and we have aligned ourselves too closely with the policies and wars of the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan. If we are to address terrorism, we must deal with its causes and this can be done through democracy and peace not via restriction of individual freedoms."

"Terrorism as an act is completely inexcusable and has to be combated" said Adamos Adamou (GUE/NGL, Cyprus) "but this does not mean that we can give up on fundamental freedoms or their protection". He said the issue of "provocation" to commit acts of terrorism raised concerns about, among other things, who should determine what the provocation is. "Freedom of speech and citizens' fundamental freedoms cannot be jeopardised and my group's concern is not to undermine these while recognising the need to combat terrorism."

"The Commission and Council proposals are yet another attack on the legal rights and freedoms of the citizens of Europe" said Athanasios Pafilis (GUE/NGL, Greece) "and once again the threat of terrorism is being used as an excuse to curb ordinary people's behaviour."

He said the proposals seek to criminalize anyone who tries to cast doubt EU policies in the area. "The repressive mechanisms of the State are once again being used to repress the rights of the people and anyone who reacts could be termed a terrorist," he warned.