Saturday

17th Aug 2019

MEPs roast EU states and Solana for 'lies' on CIA

The European Parliament's committee on CIA activities in Europe has called for sanctions to be imposed on member states which have condoned violation of human rights by US intelligence and slammed the EU council [the member states' secretariat] for "trying to lie" to parliamentarians.

The final, strongly-worded report adopted Wednesday (23 January), demands "the council to start hearings and the European Commission an independent investigation without delay... [and] impose sanctions on member states in case of a serious and persistent breach of human rights".

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • MEPs have drawn up a pattern of secret CIA flights across Europe (Photo: Council of Europe)

"We expect the council to take up its responsibilities", Italian socialist Claudio Fava, in charge of the investigation, told journalists at the end of a 12-month Europe-wide search for hard evidence, with potential sanctions including suspension of voting rights in EU decision-making structures.

The committee was set up in response to allegations in late 2005 by NGO Human Rights Watch and US daily the Washington Post that the US routinely flies terror suspects through Europe to overseas prison camps where some of them face torture and that Poland and Romania housed CIA prisons for the covert programme.

Twenty eight committee members voted in favor of the report, 17 against and three abstained, with mainly conservatives opposing the text and with some MEPs calling it a "waste of time and tax payers' money".

"We are calling for Article 7 of the EU Treaty [allowing sanctions] to be set in motion, while the report is based on speculations," Italian conservative Jas Gawronski said.

Conservatives failed to soften criticism of European capitals and officials in the report, which roasts several member states for lack of cooperation, with Austria, Italy, Poland, Portugal and the UK at the top of the list in the name-and-shame campaign.

The council - including EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana - also came under some of the strongest fire, as MEPs revealed they were given only partial documents on EU meetings with high-level US officials, leaving out all the key notes regarding rendition flights.

"The council tried to lie to the European Parliament committee" Portuguese centre-right MEP and committee chairman Carlos Coelho said, underlining "you cannot have true cooperation between the three institutions if we [members of the European Parliament] are treated like this."

"Mr Solana clearly knew more than he revealed to MEPs," Mr Fava added.

But despite the tough wording several MEPs took a "realistic" approach to the potential consequences of the accusations.

"Given the fact that national governments failed to fully cooperate, I am skeptical that the report will invoke serious investigation and that sanctions could be on the table" a senior Dutch member of the CIA committee, Jan Marinus Wiersma told EUobserver.

MEPs in political infighting ahead of final CIA report

Just hours before the planned adoption of the European Parliament's report on illegal CIA activities on Tuesday, centre-right, socialist and liberal MEPs were embroiled in a squabble on how critical the report should be towards EU capitals and institutions.

Orban praises von der Leyen after first face-to-face

The EU Commission president-elect said she had a "good talk" with Hungary's controversial premier. Orban returned the praise, saying said the former German defence minister "thinks with [a] central Europeans' head".

Von der Leyen aims to 'rebalance Europe'

The German EU Commission president-elect hopes to bridge divisions within the EU, as she meets with EU leaders setting up her team of commissioners.

Johnson's call for new Brexit deal hits EU 'no'

The UK will not nominate a new EU commissioner, the new British PM said in his first address to parliament, and insisted that the Irish backstop can be renegotiated - without giving any specifics on alternative solutions.

Selmayr shifted to Vienna, ahead of von der Leyen arrival

London and Washington had been rumoured, but instead the German political mastermind behind the EU commission will now work as a quasi-EU ambassador in Vienna. He irked many in Brussels but also shook things up.

News in Brief

  1. Trump turned down: Greenland not for sale
  2. UK Libdems would back Clarke or Harman as new PM
  3. Six countries agree to take 'Open Arms' ship migrants
  4. Gibraltar judge: Iranian ship should be released
  5. Increasing fears of a global recession
  6. Far-right hate crimes on the rise in Germany
  7. EU steel tariffs have 'worked well' so far
  8. Italian court: Migrant rescue ship can enter Italian waters

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings
  2. EU asked to solve migrant rescue deadlock
  3. Internal EU paper: Second Brexit vote was no longer 'distant dream'
  4. EU has 'zero incentive' to break open 'trilogue' deals
  5. Denmark plans import ban on EU-approved pesticide
  6. US offers Johnson helping hand on Brexit
  7. Italy: New government without Salvini in the making
  8. Brexit row delays financial products transparency review

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us