The EU warns against neglecting civil rights

25th April 2007, Comments 0 comments

25 April 2007, Strasbourg (dpa) - Leading European Union lawmakers on Wednesday demanded to make human rights a basic part of EU-US relations, warning the EU against a focus on boosting economic ties only. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) made their comments days before a summit in Washington which is expected to be a litmus test for transatlantic relations. "We have to strengthen economic political ties, but future US policies must be based on democratic values," said German Green MEP Angelika Be

25 April 2007

Strasbourg (dpa) - Leading European Union lawmakers on Wednesday demanded to make human rights a basic part of EU-US relations, warning the EU against a focus on boosting economic ties only.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) made their comments days before a summit in Washington which is expected to be a litmus test for transatlantic relations.

"We have to strengthen economic political ties, but future US policies must be based on democratic values," said German Green MEP Angelika Beer.

Germany, which currently runs the rotating EU presidency, wants to use the April 30 summit to get agreement on a transatlantic economic partnership aimed at breaking down trade barriers.

European and US officials have repeatedly clashed over a number of issues including climate change, human rights and civil liberties.

"The EU is determined to combat terrorism and organized crime, but that has to be based on respect for human rights," said Joseph Daul, chairman of parliament's influential conservative European People's Party.

Liberal Democrat group leader Graham Watson of Britain said the EU must "resist US moves for unilateralism" in issues of common concern.

"On economic, environmental and ethical grounds the US has been shredding the values for which America enjoyed our respect," he said.

US practices in its so-called "war against terror" continue to frustrate the EU.

Europeans are concerned over alleged secret US prisons in Europe to interrogate terror suspects, the sharing of air passenger details and a secret deal on the transfer of bank data to the US.

"In the name of the common values of the transatlantic business dialogue, will we have to keep quiet about the Iraq war or (the) Guantanamo (prison camp)? About the death penalty?" asked French MEP Francis Wurtz, president of parliament's leftist European United Left party.

The EU is also angered over the US's long-standing resistance to caps on carbon emissions. The bloc aims to move towards a framework to replace an international climate change agreement after 2012 and has vowed to slash its own emissions by 20 per cent by 2020.

Watson said the EU must use the summit "to force recognition of the greatest security threat of the modern age climate change and get the Americans to stabilize and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

German Minister for European Affairs Guenter Gloser told parliamentarians the bloc would also press Washington to lift visa restrictions on citizens from the EU's eastern and central countries.

The US does not require visas from citizens of the EU's old member states, but Greeks and most citizens of the 10 new EU countries that joined the bloc in 2004 have to apply for a visa. Slovenia is the only new EU member state to be part of the scheme.

EU Social Affairs Commissioner Vladimir Spidla said visa requirements for citizens of eastern and central European countries were "essentially discrimination."

DPA

Subject: German news

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