Greens: European Parliament is obstructing inquiry on Echelon

Legal service of Europan Parlimant says a temporary committee cannot lead an inquiry.

The Greens in the European Parliament are accusing the big political parties in Parliament of obstructing the inquiry on Echelon. Yesterday, the Conference of Presidents (which unites the leaders of the political groups in Parliament) has been unable to decide how to proceed on how to investigate into the Echelon spying system.

The Greens asked for a inquiry committee on Echelon, which has more powers to conduct an investigation. This proposal was first rejected by the major political groups in Parliament. Instead, they proposed a much weaker temporary committee. After that, they asked the parliament's legal service opinion on the mandate for such a committee. Green member Heidi Hautala qualifies this as an attempt to 'gain more time'.

The opinion of the legal service, which came out this week, states a temporary committee cannot lead an inquiry. According to the Greens, this was to be expected. They think the major political groups in Parliament are obstructing a serious inquiry into Echelon. The Greens now reiterate the demand that European Parliament establishes an inquiry committee. They reject the view that it is upon the Conference of Presidents to decide on such a matter and wants the case submitted to a vote in the plenary. (Jelle van Buuren)