Friday, 23 October 2009

The Stockholm Programme

You know what they say about rats: your never more than 6 feet from one! Well the biggest rat alive is in Brussels, right under our noses but do we the British see it? I guess most of us with any degree of interest in politics or current affairs do and don’t want anything to do with Europe other than were happy to trade with the rest of them and ohh of course a bit of here and there tourism but ALL our politicians of every political hue are afraid, gutless or just plain in favour of further integration to the European Super state. Think I’m joking well read on…………….

The European Union will seek to bully and brow beat into submission the Irish and the Czech Republic later this autumn, and in case any of you don’t understand what a “no” vote means in Europe, it means you keep on voting “until you say yes” BUT a “yes” vote is permanent total final and forever!

This week the Irish have finally seen the draft of assurances Brian Cowen's government want from the other EU members before they make the Irish vote again on the Lisbon Treaty, didn’t they already say “non”? For now though I’ll deal with the BIGGER rat in Brussels, and it’s called the Stockholm Programme.

Never heard of the Stockholm Programme? Not surprising, it has only just been published. However, a committee known as the Future Group, organised by the justice commission, started planning it in January 2007. The full name of the Future Group is 'the Informal High Level Advisory Group of the Future of European Home Affairs Policy.' Note the words “future” and European home affairs” We the British had no representative on it, merely an 'observer.'

The group's findings have been bundled up as the Stockholm Programme. Here is how it works.

The Lisbon Treaty when the Irish and the Czech’s have been finally bullied into a “yes” will give new legal powers to the European institutions over, among other things, cross-border police co-operation, counter-terrorism, immigration, asylum and border controls. The Stockholm Programme outlines how the justice commission will implement these new legal powers for the next five years. With me so far….?

The commission claims the programme covers policy on 'freedom, security and justice serving the citizen.' Hah…. Look closer and you will see it actually covers policy for restrictions on the citizen, and increased surveillance by the European state -- yes, your fingerprints, your credit card information, your email traffic and your health records are now going to be available from Galway to Bucharest -- and with it the final destruction of our 800 year old British judicial and personal freedoms and independence established by Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus and The Bill of Rights. Stockholm is a rat, and a huge stinky sneaky one.

If you don't want to take it from a traditional conservative right-wing libertarian like me, (haven’t you guessed by now that’s my stance! lol) you can take it from a whole pack of left-wing libertarians, the European Civil Liberties Network. Who are they you cry? Well the ECLN is made up of groups drawn from across Europe. One of the founders was Gareth Peirce, solicitor for the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six, and more lately for one of the prisoners at Guantanamo (Hmmm…!) Here is what the ECLN have to say about the Stockholm Programme: the policies outlined in Stockholm “constitute an attack on civil liberties and human rights.” They warn against “dangerous authoritarian tendencies within the EU.”

Well hello….wake up and smell the coffee boys!

Under EU legislation when The Lisbon Treaty is ratified, EU state agencies who are already implementing comprehensive surveillance regimes and beginning to build up what the ECLN calls a “previously unimaginably detailed profile of the private and political lives of their citizens.” Will have unprecedented powers over you and I. This is often done in the absence of any data protection standards, judicial or democratic controls. “The EU has gone much further than the USA in terms of the legislation it has adopted to place its citizens under surveillance. While the Patriot Act has achieved notoriety, the EU has quietly adopted legislation on the mandatory fingerprinting of all EU passport, visa and residence permit-holders and the mandatory retention -- for general law enforcement purposes -- of all telecommunications data (our telephone, e-mail and internet usage records).”

The Future Group and their Stockholm Programme say they foresee a “digital tsunami” that will revolutionise law enforcement. Add this to the fact that, as the ECLN says, “EU data protection law has already been left behind, with surveillance all but exempted. Individual rights to privacy and freedoms are being fatally undermined.”

One of the most rat-like things about these new proposals is the plan to set up a “Homeland Security” industry. Billions of euros may be given as subsidies to European corporations to help them compete with US industries in developing security equipment and technology. If you knew how many thousands of uncontrolled, unregistered corporate lobbyists there are in Brussels, you would recognise the hand of European technology corporations in the drafting of this programme. Brussels will give the military-industrial corporations billions in European taxpayer’s money, and in return the corporations will deliver technology that helps all the new “European security forces” track every one of us, every minute of the day!

What is coming out of this will undoubtedly be an EU identity card and population register. Even Dick Cheney didn't dare try that one. There will be the power of security forces (forget the word “Police”, what you are going to be hearing more and more about are “security forces”) to search computer hard-drives. But the security forces won't be coming through your door with a warrant. The searches will be “remote and online”. This will be a particular threat to lawyers, dissenters, journalists and any politicians opposing these growing EU powers. The policy of remote hard-drive searches was first proposed for the EU by the German government in June 2008. Yes, the German government wants a Euro-wide-Stasi. One can’t help be satisfied with the irony of when politicians live up to their national stereotype!

Statewatch, another organisation monitoring civil liberties in Europe, is also warning against the Stockholm Programme. In an analysis of the Future Group's report by Tony Bunyan, he writes: “European government and EU policy-makers are pursuing unfettered powers to access and gather masses of personal data on the everyday life of everyone -- on the grounds that we can all be safe and secure from perceived "threats."' Tony goes on to say “There is an assumption, on this and wider issues in the EU, that "if it is technologically possible, why should it not be introduced?"'

Remember the first stage already embedded this “culture of fear” that has been fostered and built by Governments of late against non existent organisations such as Al Qaeda? For those of you who are a little behind Al Qaeda does not exist, the idea that there is some global terror network interlinked after global domination through the use of terror is preposterous! It belongs in the realms of Ian Fleming’s SPECTRE. But I digress……

Tony also notes that the EU's Schengen Information System (SIS) is to be upgraded to hold more categories of data (including fingerprints and DNA), access to all the data is to be extended to all agencies (police, immigration and customs).”The commission has proposed a system to track the names of all passengers in and out of the EU”, but some governments “do not like limiting the use of data to terrorism and organised crime and want to extend the proposals scope from just in and out of the EU to travel between EU states and even within each state”. They want to extend it to sea travel and car travel, too: Hmmm….that’s what all those specialised cameras developed for reading car registration plates were about then!

Ah, but us ordinary people will be told that if “we have nothing to hide, we have nothing to fear”. The age old policy statement of The Dictator. The Ordinary people silly enough to believe that will then never realise, as Mr. Bunyan says: “why they did not get a job interview because their employer had access to a criminal record based on a "spent" conviction or why their application for an insurance policy failed because the Life company had access to their health record”.

The final agreement on all this is due to be adopted by heads of state and government at a meeting in Stockholm in December. Between now and then there is nothing any of us can do to stop it – except perhaps to write to your MP and force David Cameron, Nick Clegg and whoever else may have an influence to give Britain a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, no matter how many other countries have already ratified the treaty we should have the right to have our say. Nu-Labour promised us one, but Gordon and Tony Bliar gutlessly refused us this.

“Call me Dave” is only offering us a referendum if and only IF The Lisbon Treaty is not ratified already…well the next general election is a year off at the earliest so somehow I believe this is an empty promise from the leader of the un-conservatives as if the EU has its way this will all be “rat”ified and sealed and gathering dust on the shelf from December.

Remember, the legal powers to establish this new techno-surveillance are only delivered to Brussels by the Lisbon Treaty. So demand a referendum, and then vote No: or your secret ballot on Lisbon may be the last secret left to you in this new techno age!

You have been warned…….

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