Information om Amnestys EU-kontor Underlag till styrelsemöte 1-2 oktober 2005

Till: Styrelsen
Från: Sekretariatet
Datum: 10 oktober 2005

Information om Amnestys EU-kontor

Appendix 2: AI European Union Office
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1. Why is AI concerned with the European Union?

The sphere of influence of the European Union (EU) has continuously expanded since its founding in 1957. The growing trend of EU member states to take action on human rights through the EU framework became clear with the entry into force of the Maastricht Treaty on the EU in 1993. The following areas of EU activity and issues are of particular interest and concern to Amnesty International (AI).

· Increasing legislative activity and cooperation in EU community, justice and home affairs policies, which have direct relevance for human rights;

· Legislative activity conducted with a notable lack of transparency and accountability;

· Cooperation in the justice and security sphere, which has begun to be extended into relations and agreements with countries outside the EU;

·The outstripping by the EU of the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in relative weight and impact, although the human rights structures of the Council of Europe retain their importance;

· The powerful negative trend set by the EU with regard to asylum, effectively undermining the integrity of the international protection system;

· Most initiatives at the UN Commission on Human Rights being undertaken by the EU;

· The increasing linkage of human rights to other activities or concerns, including military, security and police transfers, corporate social responsibility, and trade and development.

2. What is the EU Association?

This shift of competencies from national governments to the EU has created a new field for AI lobbying activities. In 1985 AI created a European Community project aimed at initiating, coordinating and promoting AI lobbying of the European Community institutions through an office based in Brussels. As a result of its successful activities, the project subsequently became an association, whose members are the 20 sections and structures in EU member states. It is independent of the International Secretariat, with its own board of directors and Annual General Meeting.

At the Annual General Meeting, section representatives decide on long-term objectives on the basis of AI’s International Strategic Plan, developments in the EU, financial resources, and the EU Association’s organizational development. Section representatives also elect a board of directors to manage the Association. The EU Office in Brussels is the operational arm of the Association, and currently has eight staff members. Within EU sections of AI, EU contact persons are responsible for coordinating and implementing AI activities in relation to the EU.

3. What are the objectives of the EU Office?

The EU Office gathers and distributes information, formulates action strategy, and establishes action planning and priorities according to AI’s international calendar and the EU calendar. It identifies key areas and timings for lobbying the EU, and the most influential targets.

The EU is increasingly developing policies in areas related to human rights. The EU Office, together with specialists from sections and the International Secretariat, develops AI’s commentary and positions, and recommends steps to be taken by EU institutions.

The EU Office keeps EU sections and the International Secretariat informed about relevant events in the EU, formulates requests for action by EU sections, and expects them to provide regular feedback on the results of their lobbying so as to improve coordination and cooperation between EU sections.

The EU Office also organizes lobbying and policy training sessions for EU contact persons and others in EU sections and structures.

4. What are the targets of AI’s activities in the EU?

The decision-making body of the EU is the Council of the European Union (formerly known as the Council of Ministers) which is composed of the relevant government ministers for the subject under discussion from the 25 member states. Initiatives relating to human rights outside the EU are mostly taken by Foreign Ministers or Development Cooperation Ministers. The Justice and Home Affairs Council deals with matters concerning human rights such as asylum policy. On the basis of EU Office action recommendations, AI sections in the EU approach their governments in a coordinated, targeted and timely manner so as to influence their positions within the Council of the European Union.

The European Parliament is less associated with the legislative process than national parliaments, but in human rights matters can be a strong moral voice and is AI’s "best ally" within EU institutions. It can put pressure on EU governments by adopting resolutions or asking questions of the Council of the European Union or the European Commission. Its members may also influence human rights policies during meetings with officials or parliamentarians from countries outside the EU. The European Parliament can also play an important role in budgetary matters, and has the power to veto certain agreements between the EU and non-EU states. AI sections in the EU actively cooperate with members of the European Parliament, and the EU Office closely coordinates section lobbying of the European Parliament in order to achieve necessary coherence.

EU Office staff are in regular contact with structures of the Council of the European Union in Brussels (the General Secretariat of the Council, the High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, and Permanent Representations of member states), the European Parliament, the European Commission, and sometimes representatives to the EU of non-EU countries. The EU Office also works closely with other Brussels-based non-governmental organizations.