The written declaration on emergency cooperation in recovering missing children, inspired by the disappearance of Madeline McCann on 3 May 2007, was formally adopted in plenary with 418 MEP signatures. More than half of the total 785 MEPs need to sign a written declaration for it to become the official position of the European Parliament. The declaration will be recorded in the official minutes of the plenary session of 2 September 2008.
The written declaration brought forward by Edward MCMILLAN-SCOTT (EPP-ED, UK), Roberta ANGELILLI (UEN, IT), Glenys KINNOCK (PES, UK), Evelyne GEBHARDT (PES, DE) and Diana WALLIS (ALDE, UK) calls on Member States to introduce a missing child alert system, the activation of which would require the immediate forwarding to the relevant news media, border authorities and customs and law enforcement agencies of details of:
- the missing child, with a photograph if available
- information relevant to the disappearance and/or the suspected abductor(s)
- a telephone number to call with information (116 000 where operational).
EP Vice-President Mr McMillan-Scott speaking on the adoption of the declaration said: "I'm grateful for the support from the majority of MEPs who have given political impetus in what so far has been rather a bureaucratic process. We need to encourage Member State governments to take up the mantle.
If we can afford to issue severe weather warnings, we can also afford to issue warnings about missing children.
Since 2003, 400 American children have been found - 80 % within the crucial first 72 hours - through the Justice Department's Amber Alert. Only France has a similar state-funded 'severe weather warning'-style missing child alert, which uses TV and radio flashes, messages on motorway gantries and town centre information boards."
EP Vice President Diana Wallis said: "Following a productive meeting with Justice minister Dati yesterday,I amnow working together with the French Presidency to produce an concrete outcome in time for the December Council. We need to convince all Member States that ad hoc cooperation is not enough - territorial objections cannot stand in the way of such an initiative either -we need somethingmore systematic and coordinated. In cases of child abduction, time is of the essence."
The declaration calls on the Member States to reach cooperation agreements with all bordering states to ensure the capacity to raise an alert rapidly across any relevant territories.
The declaration calls for the development of a common organisation to provide assistance and training to national bodies and points out that there is no Europe-wide alert system for child disappearances nor any local or national systems throughout much of the European Union.
The declaration, together with the names of the signatories, is now forwarded to the Commission and the Council.