Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Royal House of Savoy

Delivered in Plenary 6th September 2000

Freedom of movement and residence is a right enshrined in European Treaties and granted to all citizens and should only be denied in exceptional cases then there is a real threat to public safety. It is therefore all the more extraordinary that 50 years after the signing of the Convention of Human Rights, which ironically was signed in Rome, and one year after the Treaty of Amsterdam upholding such rights, that one European family, who for a thousand years have been involved with the continent's history, are being denied the fundamental rights my colleague has mentioned.

The Watson Report demands such rights for family reunion and the Boumedienne-Thierry report for freedom of movement and residence, even for third country nationals and even for convicted criminals. This family, as mentioned, is the former royal house of Savoy in Italy and lesser violations are also being committed against the royal houses of Austria and Greece by their governments.

The thirteenth transitional article of the Italian Constitution, absurdly labelled transitional but still in force after 53 years, is not only a violation of European treaties, but also sexually discriminatory in that it applies only to male royal descendants, no matter how far removed, of the constitutional monarch king Victor Emmanuel, deemed guilty of signing unacceptable wartime fascist laws.

Ironically, descendants of Mussolini are not only allowed to live in Italy but one actually sits in the Italian Parliament. This article is shameful and obsolete and all Members of Parliament, even those with anti-monarchist feelings, should join me in calling upon the Italian government to allow an innocent European family to return to their native land, where they pose no conceivable threat to public safety or the stability of the Italian Republic. We can only call for European citizens to have more rights if all their rights are upheld irrespective of origin and without discrimination. This issue goes far beyond individual families and goes right to the heart of the Union's respect for its own laws and treaties. Either we have a European Union based on law or we do not. I therefore commend my Amendment No. 14 to this House.