Tuesday, 9 April 2019
EU Regulations: Referral to Joint Committee
The Minister of State is correct that it is unusual that we would be discussing this prior to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice and Equality's discussion of it. We will continue the discussion tomorrow morning. We are discussing it now because of the tardy notice given to the committee to debate this issue which has been on the cards for months, attempting to bounce us into a discussion tomorrow morning with less than a week's notice and no information on the proposition. That is why we are here tonight and we will continue this in the morning.
The two motions before us today opt us into aspects of an EU regulation that strengthens the mandate of the eu-LISA agency, the agency that manages large-scale security and justice information systems in Europe. The European Commission tells us it is doing this in a bid to close the gaps that threaten the security of Europe and its citizens, all of the usual rubbish that we have become accustomed to listening to. A side effect of the mandate is that the EU information systems for migration, security and border management will become more interoperable. I think it was quite creepy that in announcing the Commission's proposals the Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship said the stronger agency, "wilI help us connect all the dots towards an effective and genuine Security Union". As far as I am concerned when lreland signed up to the European Economic Community in the 1970s it was not signing up to a security union and I do not think the citizens have been asked about that matter. The fact that the Commission was arrogant enough to come out and state that so boldly is a significant overreach on its part. It seems determined to criminalise each and every third country national who wants to come to the EU, whether for work, fleeing war, or simply on a holiday. We are creating a continent living in fear that a horde of barbarians is on the horizon, ready to invade. That is giving us a continent distracted from the real and pressing issues facing us.
Last October, the justice committee was asked to approve two proposals from the European Commission that touched on the same area of interoperable border IT systems as this regulation does. What was proposed then was a vast, centralised database of a massive range of highly sensitive, biometric and personal data belonging to 218 million non-EU citizens visiting or living within the European Union and the justification for it was as the EU Commission said, an evolving and ongoing threat to internal security. The threat, it said, was migrants, not some migrants but all migrants. Other Deputies have used the quote from the European Data Protection Supervisor warning of the dangers of the blurring of lines by mixing migration management with the fight against terrorism. This is setting a racist agenda in Europe and we are surprised out when Viktor Orbán says what he does and gets elected.
The Commission expected us last October to swallow the view that the threat to internal security posed by migration is severe enough to justify the creation of essentially an EU-wide Stasi. The committee did not agree and yellow-carded the proposal. Plenty of other people shared our view, including the EDPS, the Article 29 group, European Parliamentary Research Service, Privacy International, Statewatch and many more. All of them loudly questioned whether this threat from migrants exists and whether it was sufficient to justify what the Commission wanted and whether the Commission had any evidence at all to justify its position. None of those organisations was listened to. Our committee was not listened to either and the Commission's proposal is now going full steam ahead and the regulation we have before us will allow the Commission's giant intrusive database to take physical form. Even if Ireland is not taking part in that, we have a duty to flag the dangers because Europe's current migration policy, if it could be called that, is leading to fear, it is boundaries, high walls bristling with surveillance around the continent, driven by the far right and the arms industry. It is an incredibly dangerous path and the Commission does not seem to care enough to join the dots and see where this is leading us. We are paying Libya to keep refugees in dungeons to be raped and beaten, and we imagine there will not be consequences? Of course there will be consequences. None of this is making Europe any safer, it is making it a far more dangerous place and we should be playing a neutral and independent role.