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3.7.

2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 155 E/7

(2003/C 155 E/007) WRITTEN QUESTION P-2212/02


by Rodi Kratsa-Tsagaropoulou (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(12 July 2002)

Subject: Protection of immigrants’ human rights in Greece

Under Article 6(1) of the Treaty, the European Union is founded on the principle of respect for human
rights and fundamental freedoms. What comments does the Commission have to make on recent
accusations by the Council of Europe and 47 non-governmental organisations concerning the violation of
immigrants’ human rights in Greece? Has it analysed and assessed Greece’s policy on this issue? Have
similar accusations been made with regard to other European countries? Does it consider that the ‘proposal
for a Council directive laying down minimum standards on the reception of applicants for asylum in
Member States’ will provide solutions to these problems and eliminate these phenomena? What
preparations are needed in the Member States in order to implement the new policy?

Answer given by Mr Vitorino on behalf of the Commission

(1 October 2002)

The Commission is unable to comment on the views expressed by another institution, namely the Council
of Europe, or independent non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Nor does it have the power to
examine the compatibility of actions or legislation of Member States with the European Convention on
Human Rights, an instrument of the Council of Europe, when those actions or legislation do not fall
within the scope of Community law.

The Commission does, however, have the duty to ensure that Community law in the field of immigration
and asylum, when enacted by Community institutions and implemented by Member States, is in
conformity with fundamental rights as enshrined in Article 6 § 2 of the Treaty on the European Union and
reaffirmed in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. In addition, the implementation
of Community law by Member States involves monitoring activities by the Commission and possible
intervention by the Court of Justice in case of infringement. However, in the field of immigration, there
are, as yet, no Community provisions in place based on Article 63 of the EC Treaty.

At its meeting in Tampere (15/16 October 1999), the European Council reaffirmed the importance the
Union attached to the absolute respect of the right to seek asylum as well as its commitment to the
obligations of the Geneva Refugee Convention and other relevant human rights instruments. To that end,
it requested the establishment of a Common European Asylum System ensuring that nobody is sent back
to persecution. All proposals needed to implement the first phase of such a system have been tabled by the
Commission. The importance of this objective was reaffirmed by the European Council in Seville
(21/22 March 2002) and deadlines were set for the adoption of the main elements of this first phase.

Concerning the draft Directive laying down minimum standards on the reception of applicants for asylum
in Member States referred to by the Honourable Member, at its meeting in Luxembourg on 25 April 2002,
the Council defined a ‘general approach’. Accordingly, the Council may soon formally approve the
proposal. This draft Directive aims to improve substantially the reception conditions for asylum seekers,
ensuring that Community national reception systems attain the same broad studies. The principle that
destitute asylum seekers, who are allowed to stay in the country to await the outcome of procedures, are
entitled to reception conditions (including housing, food, clothing and a daily expenses allowance) has
been accepted by all Member States. The draft Directive indicates that in all Member States, asylum seekers
will be entitled to proper health care, information and documentation, schooling and, in a limited number
of cases, access to the labour market. In addition, Member States would commit themselves to ensuring
appropriate guidance, monitoring and control of the standard of reception conditions.

Member States would be required to allocate the necessary resources in accordance with the national
provisions enacting this Directive. This point will be particularly important if national authorities give local
authorities the responsibility of implementing the Directive.
C 155 E/8 Official Journal of the European Union EN 3.7.2003

Also relevant in this context is the European Refugee Fund (ERF) (1). The Fund of EUR 216 million was
established by Council Decision 2000/596/EC to promote solidarity between Member States in matters of
asylum, by supporting and encouraging the efforts made by the Member States in receiving and bearing
the financial consequences of accepting refugees and displaced persons. The Fund, in its present form, runs
from 1 January 2000 to 31 December 2004.

Resources are distributed in proportion to the burden of expenditure in each Member State resulting from
receiving refugees and displaced persons. From 2000-2002, Greece’s allocation from the European Refugee
Fund has amounted to EUR 1 816 711,58 or 1,8 % of the Fund.

(1) 2000/596/EC: Council Decision of 28 September 2000 establishing a European Refugee Fund  OJ L 252,
6.10.2000.

(2003/C 155 E/008) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2292/02


by Richard Corbett (PSE) to the Commission

(25 July 2002)

Subject: Rule of law in Austria

Is the Commission aware of the case of Mr Shalom Weiss, a US citizen convicted of fraud in Miami in
1999 and sentenced to 845 years in prison, who had sought refuge from this inhumane sentence in
Austria?

Is the Commission aware that the Austrian Minister of Justice handed over Mr Weiss into American
custody before Mr Weiss’s appeal against deportation had completed the appropriate procedures and
despite an injunction from the Administrative Court forbidding his extradition?

Is the Commission aware that the European Court of Human Rights had indicated that interim measures
should be adopted pursuant to Rule 39 of its Rules of Procedure, and asked Austria to ensure that
Mr Weiss was not extradited pending its examination of the case?

Is the Commission aware that the United Nations Human Rights Committee had also issued interim
measures asking Austria not to deport Mr Weiss while it examined the human rights issues under the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights?

Does the Commission consider such conduct to be compatible with Austria’s commitment to the
principles of liberty, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law as set out in
Article 6 of the EU Treaty?

Answer given by Mr Vitorino on behalf of the Commission

(23 September 2002)

The Commission does not have any information as regards the particularities of the case of Mr Shalom
Weiss other than that given in the written question itself.

The Commission has to underline that currently, extradition relations between Member States and third
countries are not subject to any Union legal instrument. From this point of view, Member States are free to
act in this field as they deem appropriate.

The Honourable Member asked the Commission to analyse the question as regards Article 6 of the Treaty
on European Union.

The Commission would like to stress that this article is addressed to the European Union institutions and
to the Member States when they implement Union law.