Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-04-23-Speech-3-041"

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"Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I should like to welcome the President of the Council and the Commissioner. As a Group we welcome the Council's approval of a negotiating mandate which will at last enable the Commission to negotiate the inclusion of all Member States - I repeat all Member States - in the new Visa Waiver Program as amended by the US Congress last year. We wish at the same time to express our regret that the Washington Administration decided to launch bilateral negotiations with the countries having recently acceded to the European Union: that decision cannot be endorsed on grounds of either merit or method. Our Group believes the United States to be an essential partner in the fight against terrorism, but at the same time we think that the US Administration must respect the political subjectivity and powers of the European Union, as enshrined in our Treaties. I would venture to suggest, Commissioner, that the same reminder be made to the EU Member States: they are the interpreters and custodians of this European subjectivity. It is worth recalling, as you have done, that visa policy, like our policy on asylum and combating illegal immigration, is the responsibility of the European Community. Importantly, the Council has drawn red lines around the negotiating mandate, to the effect that no bilateral agreement may be negotiated between a Member State and the United States on matters falling under EU competence, especially where such agreements allow the US authorities access to European Union databases. We now call on the Commission to work towards an agreement, an overall solution, granting a visa exemption for citizens of all European countries on the basis of equal dignity and above all reciprocity."@en1

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