News and Opinion from The European Union

Friday, 7 December 2012

The European Federalist Party

On the 2nd of December 2012 The European Federalist Party's UK chapter held it's first annual general meeting. This meeting marks a turning point in British politics as for the first time a political party is putting forwards the ideas of European economic and political integration.

The conference elected a board for the coming year and ratified the parties constitution which calls for subsidiarity and cooperation across The European Union. The party President said "Subsidiarity is the basic principle for which we stand, it is the idea that all decisions should be made by those who it effects not passed down from on high. When something involves only people from a town, a city or a county then it should be their decision. Equally when something effects all of Europe then it should be made by the democratic institutions at the European level."

The party will be releasing it manifesto within the next two months which will be discussed on this blog.

Erasmus, a symbol of Europe

A debate is ongoing as to the future of the Erasmus program, as the economic climate in Europe heats up questions have been raised as to the affordability of the project. Yet it is clear to me that Erasmus must be saved. It is a program which embodies so much of what Europe stands for; education, cultural understanding, the coming together of people and the free exchange of ideas.

Jose Manuel Barroso, President of The European Commission, has also called for Erasmus to continue to help students from around Europe study in other EU states. The European Federalist Party in the UK, a newly founded British political party in association with The European Federalist Party throughout The Union, also calls for Erasmus to be defended calling it "a shining example of European values in these difficult times."

The Erasmus program is not only a fantastic tool for students to broaden their horizons and learn in other places and ways, it is also a symbol of Europe. That The EU can work towards cultural understanding and cooperation across the continent is a beacon of hope for the rest of the world in such dark times.

Let us save Erasmus not only for ourselves but for our future.

Friday, 16 November 2012

The Abu Qatada Extradition Problem

Abu Qatada's extradition is a contentious issue in Britain, his deportation to Jordan has been passed back and forth, blocked and unblocked while the issues at the core of the debate has been hidden behind a wall of political issues and Euro-phobic rhetoric.

The longer we allow this issue to sit the more the real questions become lost. For those who don't know; Abu Qatada is wanted by the Jordanian government for suspected terrorist links and the Home Secretary Theresa May wants to push forward his extradition. The order has been overturned by British courts following a statement from the European Court of Human Rights. Mrs May says that Europe is 'moving the goalposts' when it comes to removing a 'dangerous man' from Britain.

The issue at the heart of this is the principle held by the vast majority of European citizens, that that is the idea that an individual cannot be tried for crimes using on evidence based on torture. It is my firm opinion that before any extradition to a state outside the EU we must have clear assurances and evidence that torture will not be used and a fair trial will be given.

Sadly we do not and as of yet cannot have these from the Jordanian government. While torture is illegal in Jordan it remains a wide spread practice, this is not to say that Jordan has not taken great leaps forward. In partnership with the EU the country has made many changes, including a prison reform campaign, but the General Intelligence Directorate remains largely immune to punishment for violation of human rights.

Mrs May showed understanding and a mature outlook on the issues when she traveled to Jordan to get assurances that Qatada would face a fair trial and points to the illegality of torture in the country but importantly we cannot accept a simple promise, especially when a man faces the possibility of torture or trial with evidence based on torture.

It may seem strange that I am defending this mans right to remain in the EU as his views are so opposed to the rights and principles for which the EU stands, but how can we say that we oppose torture, execution and trails based on evidence obtained by the use of torture if we will happily sent someone elsewhere to face this? If we do, we do not stand for an ideal, we simply find it unpalatable and want it to take place elsewhere.

I for one am against torture and capital punishment on principle and as such believe Qatada should either remain here until we can have EU observers in Jordan during proceedings or be tried i the EU for his criminal actions here.