Anti-terror pact aims to make Europe safer without compromising civil liberties
Candles after terror attacks in Paris CB off After recent terror attacks in Europe, the debate intensifies over how to further empower authorities to track town terrorists, without compromising civil liberties.
CB on Hello and welcome to People First, the EPP Group's monthly program on issues with impact on people like you. Joining us to answer some of your questions is Monika Hohlmeier. You are a member of the Committee here in the European Parliament, for Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, and a member of the EPP Group.
CB on Madame Hohlmeier, if I may ask you to start with, you grew up at a time when there were terror attacks in Germany. Your father was interior minister and defence minister. How was it like for someone like you to grow up in that situation?
Monika Hohlmeier, German MEP Let's say it was another life, it was not a normal life. Because we always had three policemen following us in the school, everywhere. We were not allowed to go by bicycle to the school, as every normal child is doing it. We had to go by a specialised secured car, by secured ways. So I have a deep feeling for this issue of terrorism.
CB on So Europe has indeed been shaken by repeatedly by terrorism. How is the EU now, dealing with this situation now? Let's take a look at our report, before we go to our viewer questions.
Gunmen in Charlie Hebdo attack CB off The deadly terror attacks in France, and the foiled plot in Belgium, came at a time Europe is debating what new tools to give investigators.
Airport, planes CB off Some officials, and the airline industry, have been pressing for a Europe-wide system to track air travellers. Known as PNR, or Passenger Name Records, the effort to create a common databank across Europe was defeated in the European Parliament in 2013.
Computer data, check-in at airport CB off A related issue is data retention: how should the data be used, how long and by whom? The PNR proposal would store that data over five years and strictly control the sharing of data with non-EU countries.
Frankfurt airport CB off The gunman in the deadly attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels in 2014 slipped into the EU via Frankfurt Airport, as Germany forbids data retention.
Phone taps, people on phone CB off With telephone surveillance, not all member states allow it, though phone taps helped Belgian authorities track down the suspects in planned terror attacks.
Europol checking data on screen CB off The EPP Group is also calling for a European version of the US Terror Finance Tracking Program, or TFTP, to shut down the money going to terrorists.
Border checks CB off And border controls stand to be toughened under a so-called Smart Borders system. Proposed by the European Commission last year, it's in the test phase.
CB on So we've talked to people on the street. And their questions really do deal with how people are affected or could be affected by these measures. Let's take look at our first question, which has to do with sort of a general idea about how people are affected.
Vox pop question Hello, I'm Antoine, I'm from Brussels, and I just want to ask, how is this going to affect my daily life on the Internet?
CB on So what about all this telecom surveillance? We want to boost it up, ramp it up. Is this more Big Brother or what?
MH on No, Big Brother is not allowed and won't be allowed in the future. Because normally if you have suspected persons, you need a judge to decide, that you can survey somebody. The telephone connections, the IT content that the person has seen. But our problem at the moment is that we don't have any obligation for the private companies. For example, in Germany this is the situation, that they have to do something like data retention. The normal internet user will profit from our proposal of data protection. Because there's a data protection proposal from the Commission. We try to find a solution together with the Council. And there, the privacy is much more protected. And we as Parliament are trying to give more rights to private persons against the big giants, because they don't respect the clients so much.
CB on Well let's take a look at our next question, which has very much to do with that.
Vox pop question My name is Ellen, I'm from Belgium. How will you protect my data?
CB on Well yes. Essentially, some people have been fighting for their right to be forgotten. And now we're talking about, in this proposal, to retain data for ten years. Why is that?
MH on First, the issue is that data protection and privacy must be respected. So, fundamental rights must be respected. The issue is that law enforcement is not allowed to enter into every privacy. That is not allowed. Only for suspects, and there's certain type of new technology. So normal data is absolutely protected, nobody is interested. The problem is not law enforcement. The problem sometimes is the profiling of private companies.
CB on …for advertising. But this does make some people uncomfortable. Here's a Swiss gentleman, who's uncomfortable with all that data crunching.
Vox pop question Hello my name is Morris Schimber (sp?), I'm from Switzerland. And I wonder whether it's possible to track down people. Personally I don't think that it is, but some people would like to have a government that controls everything.
CB on Well, he flew to get here. Now you would think that he would favour PNR to make sure the guy sitting next to him is safe. But anyway, he's got two minds obviously, about this, like a lot of Europeans.
MH on But PNR, or something like data retention, is not a mass surveillance. If you want to look at all the private content of IT, of bank accounts, or something like this, you need to have the decision of a judge. Or there must be a danger for society. If there is not a clear situation, then you are not allowed to go into the whole privacy.
CB on Well here's another aspect of freedom is freedom of movement. And a lot people are putting in question Schengen. Here's a question on that.
Vox pop question My name is Heidi Mudrif (sp?), I'm from Vienna, and the question is why it would be possible to partially implement the Schengen Agreement? What keeps the diplomats from implementing it, whether they are afraid that they will lose votes in their countries?
Ich heisse Heidi Mudrif, bin auss Wien, und die Frage: warum es moeglich waere auch zeitweise die Schengen Abkommen wieder einzusetzen. Und was hindert die diplomaten daran dieses einzufuehren, ob sie nur Angst haben dass sie die Stimmen der Bevoelkerung in ihres Landes verlieren.
CB on So it is a very complicated question. Because to what extent do you try to support Schengen, but perhaps at the risk of losing votes at home by those who are very very worried about Schengen perhaps compromising their security?
MH on I think that freedom of movement is one of the very important goods or values that we have in this European Union and in the Schengen area. There is one proposal about the external borders of the Schengen area. Because if for example, terrorists are entering, if high-risk individuals are entering, if drug traffickers, human traffickers are entering. For this reason there will be a proposal to have controls at the external borders for EU citizens. But not inside, because it's not necessary to do this check three or four times. It's necessary to do it once, at the external borders of the Schengen area. And then we need to have a possibility to see how terrorists or high-risk individuals move.
MH on This is not a border issue. This is an issue where the ministers of interior have decided, have agreed on a data exchange that must be much better, because sometimes for example, the list of high-risk individuals in Belgium is different from the German ones.
CB on And then one other aspect of this package that the EPP Group is proposing, and with the support of others as well, is the idea of trying to prevent youth from radicalising. And boosting efforts in the prisons, and also trying to encourage some sort of tolerance in the schools. How, concretely, do you want to do that?
MH on First, we can create guidelines of best practices. Because there are already good examples in the European Union that work. And we hope that we can exchange this with very good guidelines. The second thing is to give an initiative or incentives for an IT program as deradicalisation. To show, with the methods of the internet, that radicalisation is a misuse of young people, for very bad ideas and for their detriment. So we can do a lot for deradicalisation. And in prisons, it's important that hate preachers or terrorists don't have the possibility to speak to young people in prison to radicalise them.
CB on So how do you do that? Do you separate them, or what do you do?
MH on The normal instrument is really to isolate those extreme terrorists from others. And in the prisons you have to give young prisoners the possibility to learn something, to be educated therein, to develop.
CB on Exactly, you have to have some positive support there.
MH on Yes, to have positive support for those who give us a chance to help them.
CB on Well, all these efforts are going to require long-term efforts.
MH on Yes, that's true.
CB on And we'll have to see how that pans out, but of course the first step is getting the package approved.
MH on That's true. Thank you so much.
Stand-up CB on Madam Holmeier, thank you so much. That's all the time we've got for now on People First.
Find out more about the activities of the largest political force in parliament by checking eppgroup.eu.
Until next time, thanks for watching!
Headline #AntiTerrorPact aims to make Europe safer without compromising civil liberties.
Description The EPP Group's anti-terror package of measures would allow surveillance and data exchange across the EU, while defending the right to privacy and ensuring data protection. It would also step up efforts to fight radicalisation in schools and prisons.
Tags Terrorism, data retention, data protection, PNR, EPP Group, European Parliament, Monika Holmeier, Brussels
Ioannis ZografosEPP TV Managing ProducerBelgiumIoannis.firstname.lastname@example.org+32(0) 2 284 18 45