Friday, 11 July 2008

The “EU Madeleine Alert” backed and rejected

Brussels throws out McCann's appeal for European missing child alert system
EU unable to agree child alert system, boosts cooperation
McCanns win MEPs' backing for abduction alert system
The Scotsman:
McCanns win Euro child-alert system

Confused? It's easy to explain. A “written declaration”, drafted by a group of European Parliament Members, supporting an EU Amber alert system, got more than half of the 785 MEPs signatures. It means that the “written declaration” can be published and send to the institutions related and/or referred in the text. It's just a declaration of intentions, and it's not legally-binding. But it's a victory for the McCann lobby, from a political point of view.

However, the Justice Minister of the 27 EU countries, after a meeting in Cannes, France, rejected the idea of having an European Amber alert and, instead, agreed to cooperate more closely in the hunt for lost children. "We shouldn't send out a European alert when a child has been gone for just a few hours," said German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries. "The great majority of children return home after two or three days."

The Liverpool Echo has a completely different story:“Merseyside MEP Arlene McCarthy got backing from Brussels for a compulsory cross-continent alert system if children go missing (...) Mrs McCarthy's amendment, unanimously backed by the consumer protection committee in Brussels, will force all member states, including the UK, to allow their citizens to access the hotline (...) Police forces will also be told to share information and react quickly. That legally-binding decision must now be ratified by the European Commission. This Liverpool Echo' story is really a big confusion. I can't find an explanation for that confusion.

Just to remember, what is, exactly an EU “written declaration”:

Rule 116: Written declarations

1. Up to five Members may submit a written declaration of not more than 200 words on a matter falling within the sphere of activities of the European Union. Written declarations shall be printed in the official languages and distributed. They shall be included with the names of the signatories in a register. This register shall be public and shall be maintained outside the entrance to the Chamber during part-sessions and between part-sessions in an appropriate location to be determined by the College of Quaestors.

The contents of a written declaration shall not go beyond the form of a declaration and shall not, in particular, contain any decision on matters for the adoption of which specific procedures and competences are laid down in the Rules of Procedure.

2. Any Member may add his signature to a declaration included in the register.

3. Where a declaration is signed by the majority of Parliament's component Members, the President shall notify Parliament accordingly and publish the names of the signatories in the minutes.

4. Such a declaration shall, at the end of the part-session, be forwarded to the institutions named therein together with the names of the signatories. It shall be included in the minutes of the sitting at which it is announced. Publication in the minutes shall close the procedure.

5. A written declaration that has stood in the register for over three months and has not been signed by at least one half of the component Members of Parliament shall lapse.

Let's not forget that “the UK’s most senior officer responsible for missing children today (May 1) ruled out Kate and Gerry McCann’s plea to introduce an 'amber alert' system. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Richard Bryan insisted that there was no need to emulate the US system of immediate information broadcasts once children have been reported missing (...) People need to realise we have got a version of amber alert in the UK - child rescue alert,' he said. 'That has been in place since 2003 in Sussex and it was rolled out nationally by 2006. We have only had to use it on three occasions.” - The Times, May 1, 2008