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Reding faces the public's questions in I talk

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Reding faces the public's questions in I talk

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Welcome to I talk from the European Parliament in Brussels, your chance to put your questions to our continent’s leading decision makers. Our guest today is Viviane Reding, vice-president of the European Commission in charge of justice, fundamental rights and citizenship.

euronews:

Quick questions, quick answers is the principle of I talk, let’s have a look at the first question.

“I’m Nena Georgantzyi from Greece. The question I would like to ask is, the charter of fundamental human rights does not give any specific competence to the European Commission to take positive action in the field of fundamental human rights. Does Mrs Reding think that such positive action is needed to put fundamental rights in effect? Because until now these rights remain just theoretical.”

euronews:

Does the charter have much clout? Isn’t it just ideas?

Reding:

“It is very much about ideas and I think it’s important because it lays down the values of Europe. Some of those values go into national law, and some of those values go into European law. When we speak about the free movement of citizens for instance, one of the biggest rights of European citizens, it is laid down in the charter and it has to be applied by Europe.”

euronews:

Do you think it’s being applied more or less by national governments?

Reding:

“Well, that depends. The Schengen agreement for instance is one to be overseen by the European Union and by the Commission, and the Commission is just doing that. We will come out with a review of Schengen in order to reinforce the rights of citizens to free movement.”

euronews:

We have a question about that straightaway, let’s look at our next question.

“Hello, Im Sahd Nihat from Belgium. Do you think the closing of certain portions of the EU’s frontiers is respecting citizen’s rights?”

euronews:

Well, there you are, it’s a question you’ve already talked about. France and Italy started closing their borders because of the Tunisian crisis….

Reding:

“Well I think there was no Tunisian crisis. There were 10,000 Tunisians who were coming north and that doesn’t look like a crisis.”

euronews:

Not to France and Italy, because they suddenly closed the borders.

Reding:

“Yes, I think they were wrong to do that, and I think to close a border can only be done in very serious situations by a European-wide decision.”

euronews:

Such as?… What kind of situations would you describe as being very serious?

Reding:

“I could imagine there would be hooligans pushing through because of a football game. So that there can be serious border controls. There mnight be serious illnesses spreading so that goods are being controlled, but certainly not 10,000 Tunisians coming to Europe.”

euronews:

Ok, let’s have our third question now for Viviane Reding.

“Do you think the European union can play a role in favour of legalising gay marriage in all member states?”

euronews:

We have a very dissimilar situation in some countries…Britain has gay marriage, France does not. Adoption? Different policies in different countries. Gay people are not equal in the European Union.

Reding:

“The laws on marriage and on family, and the definition of what is marriage and family is not a European affair. It is very clearly a national competence.”

euronews:

Why though? For people who suffer through not being able to marry, that’s a European affair, that’s their affair.

Reding:

“Yes but you see, the European Union can only do what is written in the Treaty. And the Treaty foresees that questions of family and of marriage remain in the national competence.”

euronews:

Do you think that’s good or not, personally?

Reding:

“I do not have to judge on this. That is what the 27 have decided together with their parliaments, and that is what I have to apply.”

euronews:

OK, let’s have a look at the next question.

“Hello, my name’s Irina Leone, and I’m Dutch-Italian. My parents are divorced. I’d like to know what laws exist for the children of divorced parents of different nationalities.”

euronews:

I was quite surprised, there’s over a million divorces in the European Union which concern parents of different nationalities, so what about the children?

Reding:

“And there are going to be more and more because of the free movement and because of the freedom to marry whom ever you want under whatever conditions in the member state you marry.

But there again, we are not looking at the marriage law nor at the law of divorce. What I have been doing is to facilitate the free movement of persons, so when nationals from different member states want to get a divorce that there are very clear rules what law applies, and that there is not a rush to the courts by the stronger partner to the disadvantage of the weaker partner, and that there are very clear rules established concerning the children.”

euronews:

OK let’s have a look at the next question to Viviane Reding.

“Hello, I’m Jose Miguel Garcia from Spain and I’d like to know what sort of laws exist to protect children on the internet.”

euronews:

Do you think children need to be protected from the internet? Obviously they do in some cases, but censorship is also an issue.

Reding:

“I think parents should know more about what is happening on the internet. That is why we’ve developed a ‘safer internet programme’ where we inform teachers, we inform parents, and we allow them to help their children in order to be more protected.

I had also meetings with the social networks, so that the identity of the children is secret by default, so that predators cannot harm our small children.”

euronews:

What do you say to parents who say: ‘but this is not my responsibility. There ought to be laws to protect children.’ There are laws to protect them from other things.

Reding:

“There are laws to protect children. What is illegal, is also illegal on the internet. That does not prevent predators and criminals from being on the internet. So parents need to help their children to be very cautious when they utilise this wonderful tool that the internet is. But criminals also use this tool.”

euronews:

OK, next question here on I-Talk.

“Hello, my name’s Johanna Klütter and I’m from Germany. I’d like to know what the EU is doing to protect people’s personal details.”

euronews:

A vast question. How are you protecting our personal data, and what kind of data need to be protected?

Reding:

“All kinds of personal data. There is a very big principle in Europe, and this is also inscribed in our treaties, that personal data belong to the person, and only if I give out my data and I agree that you utilise it, you can utilise it. And I can also take back my data if I do not want you to utilise it again. That is why we are going to come out with new laws on data protection in order to adapt them to the new world of the internet, because the laws we have now are for the old world when there was no internet.”

euronews:

Yes, but you’re also up against multi-national banks and companies who don’t necessarily obey all these European laws, because they want to have our data to help them make profit.

Reding

“That is absolutely right. That is why we have to have very strong, enforcable rules. May I answer you with one sentence? If a company wants to address itself to citizens, to consumers in Europe, it has to apply European law, full-stop.”

euronews:

Well, that’s the principle of I-talk — quick questions with one-sentence answers. Let’s go to our last question now on I-talk for Viviane Reding.

“Will policies on asylum be harmonised throughout the European Union?”

euronews:

Is it a good idea to have the same asylum policies throughout Europe? It’s a question of human rights. We should all apply the same rights.

V. Reding:

“It is absolutely right that we should have the same asylum rules and I am very happy to see that mostly young people are very nervous about governments handling, in a very restrictive way, asylum rights.

Now, the asylum right is a human right. If you are in danger in your country of origin, we have the necessity to protect you. But if you are not in danger, and you are an illegal immigrant, we have also the possibility to send you back. So quick answers for those who have the right to asylum, and quick answers for those who are illegal immigrants.”

Next time you can put your questions to Daniel Cohn-Bendit, co-president of the European Greens here in the European parliament on I-talk.