Sunday

25th Sep 2022

EU capitals ignore Brussels' questions about rendition flights

The European Commission is set to criticise EU governments for failing to reply to a questionnaire, which, among other issues, aimed at shedding more light on CIA activities in Europe.

So far, only Finland, Luxembourg, Poland and Spain responded to Brussels' call for clarity.

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  • Only Finland, Luxembourg, Poland and Spain responded to Brussels' requests for information on rendition flights (Photo: EUobserver)

"We will take stock after Easter and then send a reminder to those who have not replied yet," commission spokesperson Friso Roscam Abbing told journalists, adding that no member state has informed Brussels why they have failed to respond.

The EU's executive body sent the questionnaire to all EU capitals on 15 December, with a 15 March deadline. The move followed a report from the European Parliament alleging that the US routinely flies terror suspects via Europe to overseas prison camps where some of them face torture.

EU governments were asked to involve "all relevant national bodies and departments, including those in charge of protection of human rights", so that Brussels could put together the fullest possible picture of member states' anti-terrorism activities.

"Its purpose is to acquire factual and concrete information on the application of member states' anti-terrorism measures, their effectiveness and compliance with fundamental rights," the commission spokesperson said about the questionnaire.

He added: "This information will help us to identify possible difficulties and needs where necessary, of EU action."

But EU states are traditionally reluctant to share security information, with the commission currently having "no legal power" to force them to do so.

"The best we can do is to apply political pressure," the spokesperson said, adding that the situation will change once the EU's new treaty comes to force next year and a significant proportion of the justice and home affairs dossier will no longer be under the exclusive power of national governments.

'No decision expected' for EU decision on unanimous decisions

Swedish minister for European affairs Hans Dahlgren told EUobserver no decision can be expected on majority vote next year. Mikuláš Bek, the Czech minister for European affairs, said enlargement and changes to the decision-making are politically interlinked.

'Cosmetic changes' not enough on EU funds, Hungary warned

Critics point out that Hungary will continue to receive substantial inflows of EU funds since the proposed suspension applies only to around 22 percent of total EU subsidies earmarked for Hungary in the bloc's current budget for 2021-2027.

EU Commission proposes freezing 65% of funds to Hungary

The freezing, the first time in the EU's history using the conditionality mechanism linking EU subsidies to the respect of the rule of law, would suspend money from the bloc's cohesion funds under the 2021-27 long-term budget.

New EU media bill seeks to curtail government meddling

The proposal for a so-called European Media Freedom Act announced on Friday by the European Commission is part of wider efforts to tackle the erosion of rule of law in EU states like Poland and Hungary.

Opinion

What von der Leyen's 'State of Union' didn't mention

Ursula von der Leyen barely noticed that European democracy is under attack not only from external threats, but from within. Two of the world's leading autocratic countries are EU member states.

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