Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2007-12-12-Speech-3-381"

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". Madam President, Commissioner, fellow Members, I would like to begin by expressing my satisfaction at the excellent cooperation so far, between the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights and the Council of Europe, especially in achieving an agreement with which both sides are satisfied. I hope their future cooperation will continue smoothly on the same basis. Despite the prolonged discussions and consultations with the shadow rapporteurs on the substantial content of the report, we were informed by the Tabling Office that under Rules 83 (7) and 51 (2) of the Rules of Procedure, it was not possible to amend the text of the Agreement and, in respect of the report itself, only procedural amendments would be admissible, a circumstance which led a number of members of the LIBE Committee to give their vote for the report under protest. My report therefore simply approves the conclusion of the Agreement between the Council of Europe and the Agency for Fundamental Rights. The EU’s system of principles for the protection of fundamental rights has been developed mainly through the case law of the European Court of Justice and confirmed by the express recognition contained in the EU treaties. However, it is particularly important to ensure that this system of human rights protection is further strengthened whilst safeguarding basic principles such as non-discrimination, non-exclusion, respect for freedom of expression and religion, freedom of conscience, and social and economic rights. The European Agency for Fundamental Rights could provide the relevant institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Community and its Member States with these safeguards during the implementation of Community law. It is important to recognise that it is the Council of Europe that has developed, through its advanced work in this field, a comprehensive system of norms and legal and judicial instruments for the protection and promotion of human rights and the rule of law and has gathered extensive experience. Therefore, the common aim of protection of fundamental rights, shared by the Agency for Fundamental Rights and the Council of Europe, has to be achieved in a significant and positive manner, avoiding duplication and any risk of fragility in the well-established judicial and non-judicial system put in place by the Council of Europe for the protection of human rights and individual rights. We must take care to ensure that there is no challenge to the legal precedent and the substantial content of human rights protection as established by the Council of Europe, an organisation with 47 member states. I would also like to emphasise that any dangers of duplication of powers and procedures must be countered to avoid confusion as regards the aims and responsibilities of the two bodies, so that we can achieve harmonious cooperation between them. This must be reflected, above all, in the Agency’s annual work programme, and in the strengthening of cohesion and complementarity between the two institutions. As regards the exchange of information between the Council of Europe and the Agency for Fundamental Rights, it is of the utmost importance, as far as possible, that such exchange should take place under conditions of absolute confidentiality observed on both sides. The Agency for Fundamental Rights and the Council of Europe should agree on more precise rules regarding the implementation of Article 15 of the Agreement, which provides for grants to be received by the Council of Europe from the Agency, with the aim of achieving full transparency and avoiding any insinuation of excessive interdependence between the two institutions. It is also essential to implement Article 7 of the Agreement in a way which will allow the two institutions to exchange, by mutual consent, as much information as possible, with due regard to their rules of procedure, as far as this is possible under the confidentiality rules in force. This information should not be used by institutions other than those directly involved in the examination of the issues at stake, nor should it be made available to institutions or agencies of third countries, in the absence of guarantees and controls regarding its use. As I have said, the cooperation between the Commission and the Council of Europe during the negotiations for the Agreement has proved fruitful, and it is expected that the two institutions will continue in future to work efficiently together, in the same spirit of cooperation, transparency and complementarily. However, it is enormously important that the European Parliament should participate in this process, through periodic reports, and that the Council of Europe should be called on to state its opinion on all the surveys and assessments carried out, with a view to complementarity, non-duplication of work, and the transparency of the operations of the two institutions."@en1

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