During this month's Strasbourg Plenary the we voted for the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR). This is designed to provide regulations on the processing and sharing of flight data between EU countries. This passenger information (already collected in UK) will provide a useful tool to assist police and intelligence agencies in tracking down possible terrorists and criminals. We also voted for a data protection package which will to create a clear legal framework the use and sharing of personal data. Only a narrow list of serious crimes will justify the use of PNR, and data protection officers appointed in each country's passenger information unit will ensure compliance with these requirements - names are masked after six months and requests to access PNR data beyond this point will need to adhere to strict conditions.
Recent clashes between Macedonian authorities and migrants have highlighted the urgent need for an organised and compassionate EU response to the refugee crisis. Labour MEPs voted for a report on the situation in the Mediterranean that calls for the EU to show solidarity with countries on the periphery such as Greece and Italy by offering humanitarian assistance, quickly implementing the relocation agreement and working together to enhance safer and legal routes to Europe. It is essential national governments urgently provide Greece with much needed humanitarian support without delay to ensure its asylum conditions are significantly improved to carry out returns in full respect of international law.
Labour MEPs also voted for a report calling for reform of the European Union's law-making procedures, including a greater role for national parliaments and regular reviews of the legislative process. Labour MEPs support a greater role for national parliaments, including enabling better and earlier communication between parliaments, and parliaments being able to submit proposals or amendments for the European Commission's consideration.
One of the challenges of the EU’s educational exchange programme Erasmus is to ensure that it not only reaches out to students in higher education but also to more disadvantaged young people who would not otherwise have access to such opportunities as learning abroad. This week Labour MEPs voted for a new Erasmus+ calling for the programme to be extended to more disadvantaged young people, for example those in vocational training, who cannot currently access the scheme.
Following the horrific the attacks on a playground in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park in Lahore on March 27 where a suicide bomb attack caused the death of more than 73 people and injured more than 300, including many women and children, Labour MEPs voted for a resolution that unequivocally condemned the terrorist group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and extended condolences to families and friends of the victims.