Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-02-18-Speech-1-161"

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"Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I should like to thank my colleagues and say immediately that we were, quite frankly, obliged to work on a report that got off to a bad start, sent out mixed messages and contained shaky proposals. I believe that the Committee on Civil Liberties did a remarkable job of restoring a meaningful, tangible political profile to this report. The basic premise was of course shared by us all. The violent radicalisation of individuals and groups in recent years has shown up one of the greatest weaknesses in our legal system and represented one of the greatest onslaughts on our democratic institutions. It is essential to combat this phenomenon. In this sense, European Union action offers added value since it provides harmonisation, because if we pool our instruments we shall have a sum of instruments, each of which will have its own intrinsic weakness. However, this is a new challenge which calls for well-balanced efforts without giving way to the natural human temptation – inevitable, given the attacks we have suffered in the years since 11 September – to generalise or to build a Fortress Europe, or to sideline a priority that is central to the process of EU integration, namely the safeguarding of fundamental rights. That is why we believe it is essential to move in the three directions set out by this report. The first step is to uphold fundamental rights and the rule of law, particularly – as Mr Frattini said – religious freedom and freedom of expression. Unless these rights are guaranteed, the very idea of Europe will be a failure, as will an integration process predicated above all else on the fundamental rights of European citizens. We need to strengthen judicial cooperation so as to strike at radical, violent, organised fringe groups. We need full harmonisation of terrorist crimes at European Union level, and that of condoning criminal activity should be added to the proposal of the Committee on Civil Liberties. Of course we also need careful prevention work: we must attack the causes and factors – which are numerous, and it is pointless to pretend otherwise – leading to the radicalisation of various population groups within our societies. This entails expanding the rights of citizenship, active citizenship, in other words a form of citizenship comprising responsibilities and participation in political life, as well as dialogue with religious movements. As the Vice-President has said, we must also fight in favour of, and protect, the millions – tens of millions – of European citizens who profess a religion different from our own, as well as the Muslim non-Community citizens who have always lived by the rules of our democracy and complied with our laws, which makes them worthy of our full respect. Lastly, we need to build a dialogue which genuinely represents an alliance of civilisations and not a clash of civilisations. ‘Alliance of civilisations’ – I am concluding now, Mr President – Is not a term we have borrowed from a political polemic; it is the term coined by the United Nations Security Council. It expresses a major responsibility and a strong commitment for this House and our communities. I believe it is vital to keep this term in tomorrow's resolution."@en1

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