Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Human Rights in the EU Report

Delivered in Plenary 5th July 2001

Mr President

Last month we witnessed the remarkable sight in Bulgaria, an ex- communist country, electing the party led by its former King Simeon II to office, having removed all legal barriers to his entry ironically in preparation to EU membership.

Now I have always believed that the great benefit of enlargement of the EU to the East is to anchor these countries in a climate of peace, prosperity, and an institutional respect for democracy and fundamental human rights.

However, spare a thought for Simeon's unfortunate Italian cousin Prince Victor Emmanuel of Savoy and his son Filiberto who are not only formally barred from standing for public office in their country, a founder member of the EU, unlike Bulgaria, but have nurtured the dream since childhood of  being allowed to enter the territory of the country of which they are  both citizens by birth and descent. In the past I have spoken critically in this House on the Charter of Fundamental Rights with regards to the attempt to  make binding its new controversial social and economic rights, as opposed to the civil and political rights which are enshrined in the much repected 1950 European Convention of Human Rights.  The EU Treaty Right to Freedom of Movement and Establishment also enjoys universal support - and yet is so clearly breached by Italy's 13th so called transitional Constitutional Article, which exiles in perpetuity the male descendants of the House of Savoy from their country. There is no derogation afforded to Italy to discriminate on grounds of sex or birth  with regards to freedom of movement of its citizens, other than on the basis of threats posed to public security or health, which frankly is ludicrous if the Republic feels threatened by one old man and his son wanting to return home.

I, therefore, call  once again on this House to show compassion and non selective respect for human rights by joining me in supporting amendment 122 bis calling on the Italian Parliament  to honour the commitment by the last Government to put a speedy end to this cruel and anomalous situation and align its Constitution with the inalienable right for all EU citizens to move around the Union freely.