MEPs: Schengen row mars Danish EU presidency
21.06.12 @ 07:51
BRUSSELS - Member states' decision to exclude the European Parliament from monitoring the EU's passport free area has blighted the entire Danish EU presidency, MEPs have said.
Denmark's minister of justice, Morten Bodskov, defended the move in the European Parliament's civil liberties committee on Wednesday (20 June), noting that member states will still seek out parliament's non-binding opinions on the issue.
"The Schengen [passport-free treaty] evaluation has attracted a lot of attention. The differences of opinion is too bad," he said.
MEPs - for the most part - remained unconvinced.
The assembly is currently boycotting the Danish presidency on five justice and home affairs dossiers until it gets a legislative role in the passport arena.
"It was much more than a difference of opinion, it was a breach of trust ... It is a pity that you have to end your presidency in this manner," Simon Busuttil, Maltese MEP from the centre-right EPP group, said.
The Socialist group also refuses to continue any negotiations on Schengen-related laws.
"We would have expected more from the presidency," said British centre-left MEP Claude Moraes.
The rift comes amid negotiations on new EU asylum laws on Thursday.
For her part, Romanian Liberal MEP Renate Weber criticised the Danes for failing to promote a "spirit of solidarity" inside Brussels on both the Schengen and the asylum issues.
Parliament wants member states to agree on outstanding points, such as grounds of detention, detention of vulnerable people - including children - automatic judicial review of detention orders and access to the labour market.
Moraes told Bodskov that asylum seekers should be allowed access to the labour market within nine months after lodging an application for international protection.
The European Commission, for its part, had originally proposed six months. Member states are reportedly pushing for 12 months.