Statewatch News Online, 14 June 2017 (07/17)

14 June 2017 — Statewatch.org/

Also available as a pdf file: http://www.statewatch.org/news/2017/jun/email-jun-17.pdf

ANALYSIS & VIEWPOINT
http://www.statewatch.org/analyses.htm

 1.   Counter-terrorism and the inflation of EU databases
2.   Who drives EU counter-terrorism?
3.   Germany: Almost suspicious: the unbearable lightness of legislation
4.   Viewpoint: Egypt: Europe’s other north African border

NEWS

1,   HUNGARY: Gulyás: Fidesz backs most Venice Commission proposals on NGO bill
2.   UK-EU: Data commissioner calls for government action on police data handling laws
3.   EU: Military research: proposals on naval drones, “force protection” and technology foresight
4.   EU: EU and Member States work towards implementation of latest Action Plan on returns
5..  Airbnb to help host 35,000 refugees in houses across Greece
6.   EU: New report debunks “toxic narrative” aimed at search and rescue NGOs in the Mediterranean
7.   UK: Can protesters believe anything Sussex Police tells them?
8.   IRELAND: Irish police phone tapping undermines citizens’ rights
9.   EU: Commission to present legal proposal on police access to cloud data; data retention
10. UK: Criticism:  UN Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism, surveillance and undercover policing
11. EU: 2017 MEDAM Assessment Report on Asylum and Migration Policies in Europe
12. GREECE: ECHR case of B.J. (v. Greece) and has addressed to Greece
13. Greek police continues to illegally hand over Turkish asylum seekers to Turkey
14. ECCHR: Greek hotspots: EU Ombudsman probes work of European Asylum Support Office
15. CoE: Venice Commission on Hungarian law on foreign-funded NGO
16. Greece: Court acquits man who protested police brutality against migrant
17. Archives, race, class and rage:
18. US might ban laptops on all flights into and out of the country
19. EU: Challenge to Court judgment on access to the documents on EU-Turkey deal  18 March 2016
20.
EU: Vìra Jourová on entry into application of the General Data Protection Regulation
21. EU: Public access to Council documents: 2016 report
22. Council of the EU considers “introducing a legal link” between visa and returns policy
23. Spanish fire-fighters who saved lives at sea must not be criminalised
24. EU: Council: new criteria for Schengen alerts on terrorism-related “discreet or specific checks”
25. EU: Commission wants a quick march to interoperable, centralised EU databases by 2020
26. EU wastes no time welcoming prospect of Big Brother databases
27. EU: information-gathering and exchange by law enforcement authorities implementation report
28.  EU: Council: “strong and effective legislation” on data retention, “online investigation powers”
29. EU: Council pushes to “increase the feed and use of biometric data”
30. EU: Council in a twist over data retention judgment

Documentation

1.   EU: Eurojust Annual Report 2016 at the EP: Responding to the security threat landscape
2.   Frontex: minutes of all Management Board meetings, May 2014-February 2017
3.   EU: European Parliament briefing: Revision of the Blue Card Directive
4.   EU: European travel information and authorisation system – Council agrees negotiating position
5.    Greek Ombudsman: Special Report: Migration flows and refugee protection:
6.   EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council 8-9 June 2017: Press release
7.   EU: A interinstitutional agreement on the new EU “Entry-Exit” system
8.   EU: EP: Analysis: European information systems in the area of justice and home affairs
9.   EP: IBE Delegation on Migration and Asylum in Italy – April 2017
10. EU: Meijers Committee: Draft Regulation on the mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation
11. Council moves quickly to get interoperable centralised database operative
12.  EP Study: International protection in Greece for the LIBE Committee delegation
13. Council of the European Union: Eurodac
14. EU: Council of the European Union: Blue Card (“Legal” Migration) and ETIAS
15. EU: Council of the European Union: SIS and the return of illegally staying third-country nationals
16. EU: European Parliament: Reception Directive
17. Entry-Exit System (EES) Council: Mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament
18. EU: Council of the European Union: European Public Prosecutors Office (EPPO)
19. 20. EU: Council: European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS )

ANAYSES & VIEWPOINT

1.  Counter-terrorism and the inflation of EU databases
2.  Who drives EU counter-terrorism? On the legislation of the European Union
3.. Germany: Almost suspicious: the unbearable lightness of legislation
4.  Viewpoint: Egypt: Europe’s other north African border

NEWS

1, HUNGARY: Gulyás: Fidesz backs most Venice Commission proposals on NGO bill (Politics.hu, link):

Lawmakers of Fidesz will support “the majority” of the recommendations the Venice Commission has made concerning the government-initiated bill on the transparency of foreign-funded NGOs, the party’s deputy group leader said. Referring to the commission’s evaluation of the bill, Gergely Gulyás said that “the body has acknowledged that ensuring access to information on foreign funding to non-governmental organisations is a legitimate objective”. Gulyás noted that positions by the Venice Commission have no binding effect. He added, however, that Fidesz “has so far considered and will again consider the majority of the body’s recommendations”. Referring to US billionaire George Soros, Gulyás insisted that the new law was necessary to ensure the transparency of Hungary’s “Soros-organisations” and to clarify allegations of some organisations being financed “from the east”.

See: CoE: Venice Commission on Hungarian law on foreign-funded NGOs: legitimate aims, but excessive obligations, disproportionate sanctions (link) and: Press release (pdf)

2. UK-EU: Data commissioner calls for government action on police data handling laws (Government Computing, link):

While the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) becoming UK law from next May will have limited impact on law enforcement, information commissioner Elizabeth Denham has said there remains significant uncertainty regarding data protection in the sector.

Speaking this week at the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Information Practitioner event, the UK data regulator said GDPR did not cover how personal data is used for law enforcement purposes, with these matters falling under the separate legal instrument known as the Law Enforcement Directive.

The Law Enforcement Directive, which covers how data is processed for certain European justice and home affairs measures, is still required to be implemented into UK law by the government.

Denham said there had not been any public announcement from government with details of how and when this will happen, or a broader position on data processing in domestic law enforcement.”

See: Speech by Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner at National Police Chief Council Information Practitioner event, 7 June 2017 (pdf)

3. EU: Military research: calls for proposals on naval drones, “force protection” and technology foresight

The EU’s ‘Preparatory Action on Defence Research’ (PADR) is moving ahead with three calls for proposals recently published on “enhanced situational awareness in a naval environment” showing the “added value of unmanned systems”; “Force Protection and Soldier Systems” and “strategic technology foresight”. The PADR is supposed to be pave the way for a full-blown military research programme from 2021 onwards that the European Commission thinks could be worth over €5 billion annually.

4. EU: Migration: EU and Member States work towards implementation of latest Action Plan on returns

The EU and its Member States are working towards the implementation of the European Commission’s “renewed Action Plan” on European returns policy, published in March this year. At the latest meeting of the Commission-hosted ‘Contact Group – Return Directive’, which brings together EU and national officials, “Member States expressed general support in relation to the policy line and specific recommendations,” but also highlighted that “on some specific recommendation, [sic] there may be divergences of views among Member States and with the Commission, and that some may be difficult to apply in practice for technical or political reasons.”

5.. Airbnb to help host 35,000 refugees in houses across Greece (ekathimerini.com, link):

“Short-term property rental platform Airbnb has announced that it will be helping to find housing for some 35,000 asylum seekers trapped in Greece, a representative for the company told the Concordia Europe Summit in Athens.

According to the representative, Airbnb is developing a special platform, airbnb.com/welcome, where property owners can offer their house or apartment to refugees for as long as desired or needed.

The company hopes that its campaign, which is Europe-wide, will help house a total of 100,000 people across the continent.

The initiative is run with the help of the nongovernmental organization Solidarity Now.”

6. EU: New report debunks “toxic narrative” aimed at search and rescue NGOs in the Mediterranean

A new report examines the accusations made by state officials, commentators and others that search and rescue NGOs operating in the Mediterranean are a “pull factor” for migrants and are effectively working in league with people smugglers. The report, Blaming the Rescuers, argues that as well as being false, those accusations have allowed state actors “to divert public attention from their own responsibilities and failures” and are part of “a wider attempt to criminalise solidarity towards migrants and refugees, which endangers the possibility of EU citizens standing in solidarity and exercising civilian oversight at the EU’s frontiers to contest their deadly effects.”

7. UK: Can protesters believe anything Sussex Police tells them? (Netpol, link):

Within 24 hours of the start of drilling on 31 May by UK Oil and Gas Investments (UKOG) at its Broadford Bridge well in West Sussex, Operation Edmond – the response by Sussex Police to protests at the site – is already raising the same concerns we highlighted last year about unpredictable policing and an unwillingness by officers to accommodate minor disruption to unconventional energy exploration without making arrests.

A week after a somewhat bizarre arrest for alleged obstruction of the highway that involved a protester clearly walking on a grass verge, members of the recently established Broadford Bridge Community Protection Camp were handed a map (below) by a Bronze operational commander offering a “tolerated slow walking area” along 600 metres heading towards the UKOG site from a scrap yard on Adversane Lane. Members of the camp had neither negotiated nor agreed to this proposal but it seemed to indicate that senior officers were intending a less confrontational attitude to the presence of protesters….

What was evident from the events we witnessed at Broadford Bridge was that officers had either not been briefed about a ‘tolerated slow walking area’ or that Sussex Police had abandoned the proposal, without informing protesters, within hours of offering it.

And see: Dissent is not a crime: News from Netpol: May 2017 (link)

8. IRELAND: Irish police phone tapping undermines citizens’ rights (EDRi, link):

An Garda Síochána, the Irish police force has fallen, yet again, under public scrutiny for privacy violations of innocent citizens. An investigation by the Irish Independent newspaper has found that members of the public had their phones tapped without proper justification.

The widespread phone tapping was revealed after a senior officer tried to highlight his concerns about the legality of the covert surveillance. According to this account, he was put under pressure to listen in on private conversations of citizens without a necessary court order. When he raised the concerns about this activity with his superiors, the authorities sidelined him. He decided to take legal action, but the State avoided full extent of the phone tapping scandal being made public with agreeing to an out-of-court settlement.

See: Exclusive: Inside the murky world of phone taps and Garda intelligence (Irish Independent, link):

AN Irish Independent investigation has found that innocent members of the public had their phones tapped by Garda intelligence.

Our investigation has also seen accounts of where a decorated detective has said he was put under pressure to routinely bypass strict protocol to listen in on private conversations for almost a decade.”

9. EU: Commission to present legal proposal on police access to cloud data; data retention discussion continues

The European Commission is planning to present a legal proposal on easing police access to data hosted in the cloud “by the end of this year or early 2018”, according to a Commission spokesperson, acting on a “sense of urgency” raised by justice and interior ministers at the JHA Council in Luxembourg yesterday.

10. UK: Another round of criticism from UN Special Rapporteur for policies on counter-terrorism, surveillance and undercover policing

One of the final reports of the UN’s former Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, Maina Kiai, follows up on a previous visit to the UK and offers further critique of the UK’s counter-terrorism policies (in particular Prevent), surveillance (the Investigatory Powers Act) and undercover policing, noting with regard to the latter that the damage caused by police infilitration of non-violent protest groups “can partly be remedied by imposing real accountability and transparency for the survivors, together with full reparation.” The report also examines a number of other issues including the policing of anti-fracking protests and restrictions on the work of civil society groups.

11. EU: 2017 MEDAM Assessment Report on Asylum and Migration Policies in Europe (MEDAM, link)

How can the responsibility for refugees be distributed more fairly – globally and within the EU? And how can we curb irregular migration while expanding legal immigration to the benefit of all concerned? The large number of refugees and other migrants who have come to Europe over the last two years has caused the EU member states that received most of the asylum seekers, to reach their capacity limits. With a view to new arrivals and their long-term integration, it is now necessary to develop new and, above all, common strategies to address the migration flows to Europe.

The 2017 MEDAM Assessment Report focuses on two core Messages:

Distribute the responsibility for refugees more equitably
Extending legal immigration from non-EU Member States into EU member states

12. GREECE: The European Court of Human Rights communicated the case of B.J. (v. Greece) and has addressed the Greek government with specific questions (Refugee Support Aegean, link):

A Syrian refugee, a Christian of Armenian origin, who lived for about a year in Turkey under the precarious ‘temporary protection’ regime without access to lawful work and housing and at risk of losing his temporary status and be deported to Syria has been under risk of readmission to Turkey in implementation of the EU-Turkey Joint statement. During his stay in Turkey, B.J. had to conceal his religious and ethnic identity for fear of being discriminated. The applicant entered Greece after the Implementation of the EU-Turkey Joint Statement and applied for international protection. In June 2016. The competent Greek authorities issued a final decision on his request ruling his application as inadmissible considering Turkey as a safe third country for him.

RSPA’s Lawyers, members of Refugee Support Aegean (RSA) found the detainee in the Police station while at risk of readmission. RSA lawyers lodged all available domestic remedies against the rejection of his asylum claim as inadmissible as well as against the decision ordering his readmission to Turkey, requesting his release. They also requested to refer a question to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for a preliminary ruling on the interpretation of the wording “international protection according to the Geneva Convention”.

B.J. and his lawyers also lodged an application before the European Court of Human Rights complaining for the violation of Article 3 and 13 of the ECHR (protection from inhuman or degrading treatment and deportation to a country where it may be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment or torture).

13. Greek police continues to illegally hand over Turkish asylum seekers to Turkey (FIDH, link):

On 2 June at 9am, a family of six, including an infant, and three men who wished to apply for international protection in Greece because of persecution in Turkey were handed over by Greek police to a group of masked gunmen. The refoulement was witnessed and the HLHR has in its disposal the license plate numbers of the Greek police van that transferred the asylum seekers. The new refoulement took place in Evros by boat, near Didymoteicho, and involved Mustafa Can, his wife and their four children, as well as Yilmaz Erdogan, Fethullah Çatal, and one more man, whose name is still not known.(…) The informal and forced refoulement of any person is considered an act of violence and is a blatant violation of international law and the international obligations of our country.

14. European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights: Following ECCHR complaint: Inadmissibility interviews in Greek hotspots: EU Ombudsman probes work of European Asylum Support Office (Press release, pdf):

“The European Ombudsman will examine practices by the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) at “hotspots” (reception centers) in Greece. The move comes in response to a complaint about the inadmissibility decisions taken under the EU-Turkey agreement. The complaint was filed by the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) with the support of Brot für die Welt in April 2017.”

15. CoE: Venice Commission on Hungarian law on foreign-funded NGOs: legitimate aims, but excessive obligations, disproportionate sanctions (link):

“The Venice Commission has published today its preliminary opinion on the Draft Law on the Transparency of Organisations Receiving Support from Abroad of Hungary.

The Venice Commission acknowledges that the draft law pursues the legitimate aim of ensuring transparency of civil society organisations and may also contribute to the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism.”

See: Press release (pdf)

16. Greece: Court acquits man who protested police brutality against migrant (ekathimerini.com, link):

“An Athens appeals court on Thursday acquitted an Athens resident who was arrested after challenging a group of police officers over their treatment of a migrant man.

Petros Kapetanopoulos was charged with resisting authority, attempting to free a prisoner and giving a false statement when he challenged officers of the DIAS motorcycle squad for using violence against a man who was already in handcuffs….”.

16.  Archives, race, class and rage (IRR news, link):

Below we publish an excerpt of a commentary in the April 2017 issue of Race & Class, in which Colin Prescod (IRR Chair) examines the challenges of black heritage facing archivists today.

This is an edited version of a keynote speech to the annual conference of the Archives and Records Association 2016 in which a leading black British cultural curator, using the concept of ‘reparative histories’, charts his own involvement in and knowledge of recent milestones in black cultural heritage intervention in the UK. Referencing the London Mayor’s Commission on African and Asian Heritage, the museum world’s marking of the ‘2007 bi-centenary of the Act abolishing the Atlantic slave trade’ and the significant ‘No Colour Bar’ archive and art exhibition of 2015, he challenges archivists to understand the issue not as the need to simply ‘include’ Black experience, but to allow Black agency in the making of the record.””

17. US might ban laptops on all flights into and out of the country (euractiv, link):

“The United States might ban laptops from aircraft cabins on all flights into and out of the country as part of a ramped-up effort to protect against potential security threats, US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said yesterday (28 May).”

18. EU:Challenge mounted to Court judgment on opposing access to the documents concerning the EU-Turkey deal of 18 March 2016

the General Court made several errors of law and that it was wrong to decline jurisdiction”

On 28 February 2017 the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) rejected three applicants’ cases requesting access to the documents held by the Council of the European Union concerning the EU-Turkey deal of 18 March 2016. The Court argued that:

“the three actions as inadmissible on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction. In particular, the General Court held that the EU-Turkey Statement did not relate to an act of the European Council nor of any other body, office or agency of the Union and hence that the actions fell outside the Court’s jurisdiction.” [ LIMITE doc no: 9148-17, pdf) [emphasis added]

On 23 April 2017 the three applicants lodged an appeal against the judgment on the general grounds that:

“the appellants claim that the General Court made several errors of law and that it was wrong to decline jurisdiction. They request the Court of Justice to rule that their actions for annulment of the EU-Turkey Statement are within the Court’s jurisdiction and to send the cases back to the General Court for a decision on the merits of their claims.” [emphasis added]

19. EU: New Data Protection Regulation: Commission: Statement by Vice-President Andrus Ansip and Commissioner Vìra Jourová one year ahead of the entry into application of the General Data Protection Regulation (pdf). See: The Regulation (link)

20. EU: Public access to Council documents: 2016 report (press release, pdf):

Over 350 000 documents are listed in the Council’s register, and over 70% of these are public and can be downloaded for free. That is one of the key points in the Council’s 2016 report on access to documents which was approved by the Council on 22 May 2017.

During 2016, 22 671 documents were added to the register, of which 71%, or 16 181 documents, are public. The Council’s public register was consulted around 380 000 times and attracted 9% of the Council’s website traffic.

See: Fifteenth annual report of the Council on the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents (7903/17, pdf) and corrections: COR 1 (pdf)

Note: the statistics certainly sound good, but it remains the case that many Council working parties – including some dealing with legislation – produce no minutes/outcomes of their meetings; while legislative deliberations and discussions are frequently shielded from public view, particularly through the trilogue procedure.

21. Council of the EU considers “introducing a legal link” between visa and returns policy

“The Council…

Recognises the importance of linking the negotiations of readmission and visa facilitation agreements…

Underlines the importance of introducing a legal link between readmission and visa in the Visa Code…

Considers that stronger coordination could be established between the two areas of return and visa policy to improve return cooperation of third countries on return and readmission…”

See: Draft Council Conclusions on enhancing return and readmission of illegally staying persons (9082/1/17 REV 1, LIMITE, 19 May 2017, pdf)

22. Spanish fire-fighters who saved lives at sea must not be criminalised (IRR News, link):

“As petitions are launched to stop the criminalisation of humanitarians, calls for the European Commission to intervene to change the law intensify.”

23. EU: Council: new criteria for Schengen alerts on terrorism-related “discreet or specific checks”

“The Presidency therefore invite delegations to take into account the changes made and agree on this list of criteria as an initial joint understanding of when a person should be entered in the SIS for discreet or specific checks in the context of terrorism or terrorism-related activities for inclusion in the catalogue of recommendations and best practices for SIS.

Finally, the Presidency would invite Europol and European Border and Coast Guard Agency to continue working on updating the list of criteria referring to foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) or terrorism-related activities involving as much as possible experts in the use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) and the exchange of supplementary information, whenever this is necessary.”

See: Joint Understanding on the list of criteria on when a person should be included in the SIS in relation to terrorism and terrorism-related offences (8806/17, LIMITE, 11 May 2017, pdf)

24. EU: Commission wants a quick march to interoperable, centralised EU databases by 2020

In its latest report on the ‘Security Union’, the European Commission has called on the Council and the European Parliament to ensure that current proposals on police and border control databases are agreed swiftly, and has announced its intention to publish a host of new legal proposals – including one on the “interoperability” of EU databases and information systems “as soon as possible” to ensure ‘one-click’ searches of multiple systems, the establishment of a “shared biometric matching service to enable searches across different databases holding biometric data”, and a “common identity repository” of alphanumeric identity data.

25. EU wastes no time welcoming prospect of Big Brother databases

  • Justice and Home Affairs database could cover terrorism, organised crime and crime in general
  • Centralised database will cover “new and existing” databases with proposals for biometric matching including facial images (“the biometric of the future”) and a “common repository” of personal data on millions of people
  • USA expresses “interest” in EU plan for a single law enforcement database

26.  EU: Plans to boost information-gathering and exchange by law enforcement authorities and agencies – implementation report

An updated report on the implementation of the Council’s ‘Roadmap to enhance information and exchange and information management’ gives a detailed overview on the numerous initiatives underway that seek to increase the gathering, processing and exchange of data amongst law enforcement authorities in the EU.

27.  EU: Council foresees “strong and effective legislation” on data retention, encryption and “online investigation powers”

The Council’s latest version of its ‘Cybersecurity Strategy Roadmap’ gives an overview of current EU initiatives in the field of cybersecurity, and under the heading of “cybercrime” foresees a need for “strong and effective legislation” on data retention, e-evidence, mutual legal assistance, encryption, online investigation powers, cryptocurrencies and due diligence.

28. EU: Council pushes to “increase the feed and use of biometric data” in draft conclusions on security checks and irregular migration

The effectiveness of cross-checking both regular and irregular migrants against security databases depends to a large extent on the availability of biometrics. Illegal border-crossings are often undocumented, which means that it is impossible to run a check against any security database unless biometrics are utilised.

29. EU: Council in a twist over data retention judgment

The Council of the European Union is really struggling to finds ways around the Court of European Justice judgment in “Tele 2 and Watson”: See: Access criteria for competent authorities to retained communication data – Exchange of views (LIMITE doc:no 8798-17, pdf)

The Court essentially laid down that data could only be retained for the purpose of serious crime and terrorism, that there must be set out in law:

ex-antereview, oversight, individuals’ rights and security and protection of retained data

And that there must be a legal requirement that the data: “concerned should be retained within the European Union.” Thus personal data cannot be transferred to a third state (eg: the USA).

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:

“Despite the 2014 Digital Rights Ireland judgment the Council, the Commission and Member States have simply carried on ignoring the ECJ’s verdict that the Data Retention Directive has been unlawful since it was adopted in 2006. In 2016 the “Tele 2 and Watson” judgment came to the same conclusions. For how long will they be allowed to flout the rule of law?”

Documentation

1. EU: Eurojust Annual Report 2016 at the EP: Responding to the security threat landscape (Eurojust, link):

Today, the President of Eurojust, Ms Michèle Coninsx, presented the Eurojust Annual Report 2016 at a hearing of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament (LIBE Committee), followed by a question and answer session with LIBE Committee members on topics ranging from radicalisation, freezing and confiscation, the European Arrest Warrant, harmonisation of legislation, and complementarity with other agencies.

Ms Coninsx highlighted the operational, strategic and tactical work of Eurojust. The year 2016 has been challenging in the security context. Eurojust has stepped up its activities to counter terrorism, cybercrime and serious organised crime, including illegal immigrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings. To do so, Eurojust connects and cooperates with practitioners’ networks, the centres at Europol and its network of judicial contact points in third States. Eurojust was involved in the judicial response to all the terrorist attacks in 2016, ensuring speedy mutual legal assistance in 2 306 cases, support to 148 joint investigation teams and assistance with the execution of more than three hundred European Arrest Warrants. Three hundred cases involved third States.

See: Eurojust Annual Report 2016 (7 MB, pdf)

2. Frontex: minutes of all Management Board meetings, May 2014-February 2017

Minutes from all the meetings of the Management Board of Frontex held between May 2014 and February 2017, obtained through an access to documents request to Frontex.

3. EU: European Parliament briefing: Revision of the Blue Card Directive (pdf)

“Attracting highly qualified immigrants to Europe has been one of the EU’s key priorities for several years. However, up until now the EU has not been as successful as other OECD countries. This demand for workers is expected to increase due to the increasing shortage of certain skills and the aging of the EU’s population.

The proposed directive, which would replace the 2009 Blue Card Directive, increases the attractiveness of the EU highly skilled migration scheme by expanding its scope, lowering criteria for admission, expanding the rights of beneficiaries, and abolishing parallel national schemes.

Stakeholders and experts agree with some proposed changes, while others have received more criticism (for example, the abolition of national schemes). Both EU advisory committees have issued opinions and some national parliaments have made comments on the proposal. The Council started work on the proposal in July 2016.”

And see: Council moving towards its negotiating position, documentation from May and April 2017 (Statewatch News Online.

4. EU: European travel information and authorisation system – Council agrees negotiating position (press release, pdf):

On 9 June 2017, the Council agreed a general approach on the proposal for a European travel information and authorisation system (ETIAS). The general approach constitutes the Council’s position for negotiations with the European Parliament.

ETIAS will allow for advance checks and, if necessary, deny travel authorisation to visa-exempt third-country nationals travelling to the Schengen area. It will help improve internal security, prevent illegal immigration, limit public health risks and reduce delays at the borders by identifying persons who may pose a risk in one of these areas before they arrive at the external borders.

See: General approaches on the draft regulation establishing a European travel information and authorisation system (ETIAS) (9763/17, 1 June 2017, pdf) and on the draft regulation amending regulation 2016/794 for the purpose of establishing ETIAS (9763/17 ADD 1, 1 June 2017, pdf)

And see: Estonia heads EU interior ministers meeting for the 1st time (The Baltic Times, link): ““The foundation of the security of the European Union is solidarity and helping each other in a difficult situation. The key to success can lie only in cooperation, not in encapsulating,” Anvelt said, adding that it’s important for the member states that the problem is dealt with together. What is especially important for Estonia is that progress was made on several topics having to do with databases – such as the ETIAS travel authorization system, renewal of the Schengen information system and developing interaction between databases more broadly.

5. Greek Ombudsman: Special Report: Migration flows and refugee protection: Administrative challenges and human rights issues (pdf):

“EU was called upon also in the past to strike a balance between the conflicting interests of its Member States,
to reconcile often diametrically opposite priorities within a common, European narrative of development and progress for all its citizens…

EU was called upon also in the past to strike a balance between the conflicting interests of its Member States, to reconcile often diametrically opposite priorities within a common, European narrative of development and progress for all its citizens…

One of the most characteristic expressions of the common, European political structure giving way before the individual priorities and imperatives of the Member States is the so-called EU-Turkey Statement of 18 March 2016, which, without being a convention of the Union with a third country, from a legal aspect, introduced a host of derogations from the EU regulatory framework….”

6.  EU: Final: Press release (pdf)

Justice and Home Affairs Council, 8-9 June 2017: agendas and other documentation including draft conclusions heading for approval

Agendas and documentation in relation to the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting on 8-9 June 2017.

7. EU: Legislative Tracker : an interinstitutional agreement on the new EU “Entry-Exit” system is approaching… (FREE Group, link):

The rapporteur Agustín Dían De Mera García Consuegra stated before the LIBE Committee (11 May 2017) that progresses have been made during the “trilogue” negotiations and that the good cooperation between delegations will probably allow to come to a political agreement by the end of the summer. Two “political” trilogues as well as nine technical meetings have already taken place and a third political “trilogue” is scheduled for 31 May 2017. Needless to say no public recording is accessible on the debates which took place during these trilateral meetings

8. EU: European Parliament analysis: European information systems in the area of justice and home affairs: an overview (pdf):

The interconnections between border management, migration and internal security have become more apparent recently in the context of high inflows of refugees and irregular migrants and of increasing terrorist activities in the EU. To address these challenges, the EU has taken steps to revise and develop the European information systems in order to improve the collection, processing and sharing of data among Member States and relevant EU agencies. This publication provides an overview of the existing and proposed European information systems in the area of justice and home affairs. It discusses the legal basis, the purposes, the scope of data and access, the utilisation and the proposed changes for each information system, including issues of interoperability.

9. European Parliament: Background Information for the LIBE Delegation on Migration and Asylum in Italy – April 2017 (pdf):

“Upon request by the LIBE Committee, this paper provides some information on the current situation of asylum and migration in Italy, focusing in particular on the “hotspots” and on the asylum procedures. The paper describes the applicable legislative framework, as recently amended, as well as its practical application.”

10. EU: Meijers Committee: Comment on the Draft Regulation on the mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders (pdf):

“On 21 December 2016, the European Commission submitted a proposal for a Regulation on the mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders (COM(2016) 819 final). In this comment, the Meijers Committee wishes to express its concerns as to several aspects of the proposal. Moreover, with a view to future negotiations on the proposed Regulation, this letter contains a number of recommendations on how to respond to its troubling aspects.”

11. Council moves quickly to get interoperable centralised database operative

Among the issues to be discussed at the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting on 8-9 June: “Ministers are expected to adopt conclusions on improving interoperability of information systems.” (Council)

See the Draft Council Conclusions on the way forward to improve information exchange and ensure the interoperability of EU information systems (LIMITE doc no: 9132-REV-2-17, dated 30 May 2017, pdf) which draws on:

European Commission: Seventh progress report on an effective and genuine Security Union (COM(2017) 261 final, 16 May 2017, pdf), the High-Level Expert Group on Information Systems and Interoperability (HLEG) final report (pdf) and a Council discussion paper, LIMITE 8797-17, pdf).

Background: Commission wants a quick march to interoperable, centralised EU databases by 2020 (Statewatch) and EU wastes no time welcoming prospect of Big Brother databases (Statewatch).

12.  European Parliament Study: International protection in Greece Background information for the LIBE Committee delegation to Greece, 22-25 May 2017 (pdf):

“Greece remains under pressure with a government-reported number of 62,200 refugees and migrants still present in its territory, of whom around 14,000 on the Eastern Aegean islands and around 48,200 persons on mainland Greece.”

13. Council of the European Union: Eurodac

Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of ‘Eurodac’ for the comparison of biometric data for the effective application of [Regulation (EU) No 604/2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person…. (LIMITE doc no: 9879-17,100 pages pdf):

“identifying an illegally staying third-country national or stateless person and on requests for the comparison with Eurodac data by Member States’ law enforcement authorities and Europol for law enforcement purposes,”

Council developing its negotiating position with 62 Footnotes including Member State position.

“Delegations are reminded that the intention of the Presidency is to submit the modifications on the inclusion of scanned colour copies and the possibility to query Eurodac using alphanumeric data for approval of Coreper…”

14. EU: Council of the European Union: Blue Card (“Legal” Migration) and ETIAS

BLUE CARD: Proposal for a Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly skilled employment (LIMITE doc no: 8912-17, pdf): The Council developing its negotiating position prior to trilogue meetings with parliament. With 139 Footnotes on Member State positions:

“the Presidency has introduced modifications in the text to be discussed at the meeting of JHA Counsellors on 15 May. These modifications are indicated in bold and the deleted text is marked with strikethrough.”

ETIAS: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) (LIMITE doc no: 8584-17, 10 May 2017, pdf) The Council developing its negotiating position prior to trilogue meetings with parliament. With 21 Footnotes on Member State positions:

“Delegations will find in the annex to this note compromise text proposals submitted by the Presidency on the above-mentioned subject.”

ETIAS: Previous amendments (LIMITE doc no: 8579-17, dated 10 May 2017, pdf): Substantial revisions:

“Delegations will find in the annex to this note compromise text proposals submitted by the Presidency on the recitals of the ETIAS proposal.”

Note from: Czech and Belgian Delegations (LIMITE doc no: 9050-17, dated 11 May 2017, pdf):

“Delegations will find in the ANNEX the non paper prepared by the Czech and Belgian delegations,… In our opinion, there are still many outstanding legal and technical questions”

15. EU: Council of the European Union: SIS and the return of illegally staying third-country nationals

Proposal for a Regulation on the use of the Schengen Information System for the return of illegally staying third-country nationals – Revised compromise version of Articles 1 to 4 (LIMITE doc no: 8108-17, pdf):

“General scrutiny reservations on this instrument are pending from AT, BG, CZ, DE, EL, FI, HU, IT, LT, NL, PL, PT, SE, SI, SK and UK. Parliamentary reservations are pending from DE, PL, SE and UK. Reservations on specific provisions are indicated in footnotes.

Changes to the original Commission proposal are marked as follows: new or modified text is in bold underlined. Deletions are in strikethrough.”

16. EU: European Parliament: Reception Directive: Report: on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (recast) (pdf) Details the parliament’s proposed amendments.

See also Council developing its position: Proposal for a Directive laying down standards for the reception of applicants for international protection (recast) (LIMITE doc no: 8258-17, pdf): The Council developing its position before entering trilogue meetings with the European Parliament. Lots of amendments from the Council Presidency and with 134 Footnotes with Member States’ positions: “The text of the proposal in Annex contains modifications suggested by the Presidency in relation to all articles except for the recitals: placed in square brackets, to be discussed at a later stage.”

17. Entry-Exit System (EES) Council of the European Union: Mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament (Doc no: 6960-17, pdf): “The changes vis-à-vis the Commission proposal are highlighted in underline and […].”

And see: The European Parliament’s amendments to the Commission proposals (pdf)

A second, secret, trilogue meeting of the Council and parliament was held on 10 May 2017.

18. EU: Council of the European Union: European Public Prosecutors Office (EPPO)

The Council developing its negotiating position:

TEXT: Draft Regulation implementing enhanced cooperation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office – Consolidated text (LIMITE doc no, 9545-17, pdf): 17 Member States support “enhanced cooperation”:

“Delegations will find in Annex a consolidated version of the draft Regulation, established with a view to reaching a general approach at the Council (JHA) of 8 June 2017….

Having regard to the notification by Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain, by which those Member States on 3 April 2017 notified the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission of their wish to establish enhanced cooperation on the basis of the draft
Regulation,”

And see: Latvia joins too: LATVIA: LIMITE do co; 9546-17 (pdf)

GENERAL APPROACH: Draft Regulation implementing enhanced cooperation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office – General approach (LIMITE doc no:9476-17, pdf):

“Coreper is invited to agree to submit the draft text of the Regulation, as set out in document 9545/17, to the June 2017 Council, for the purpose of attaining a General Approach.”

EPPO – Financial issues (LIMITE doc no 9276-17, pdf):

“The model means that expenditure of the EPPO shall be borne by the Member States which participate in enhanced cooperation on the establishment of the EPPO.”

FINANCE: European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) – Financial issues – Contributions from delegations (LIMITE doc no, 9278-16, pdf):

“Following the invitation of the Presidency to delegations to written comments on the issue of the financing of the EPPO, the Polish, Swedish and UK delegations have made the contributions in Annex.”

Draft Regulation implementing enhanced cooperation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office – Outstanding issues (LIMITE doc no, 9066-17, pdf):

“At the meeting of COPEN on 12 May 2017, delegations were asked to indicate all concerns they have with the current Council draft. The annex to this note enumerates all the issues thereby indicated, on which agreement could not be reached.”

EARLIER DRAFT: Draft Regulation implementing enhanced cooperation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office – Presidency text (LIMITE doc no 8750-17, pdf):

“Delegations are invited to indicate whether they can preliminarily agree to the full text of the draft Regulation at the COPEN meeting of 12 May, or – if they cannot yet agree – which provisions they consider it is absolutely necessary to reflect further upon. In this context,”

and see: 8750-COR-!-17 (LIMITE doc, pdf)

Eurojust: Proposal for a Regulation on the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) – EPPO related provisions (Presidency document) (LIMITE doc no:9069-17, pdf):

“The partial general approach on the draft Eurojust Regulation agreed in March 2015 did not include any EPPO-related provisions, as the negotiations on the EPPO Regulation had not sufficiently advanced at that moment in time.”

19. EU: Council of the European Union: European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS )

ETIAS: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) (LIMITE doc no: 9580-REV-1-17, pdf, 144 pages): The Council developing its negotiating position:

“Three outstanding issues were specifically discussed at the meeting of the Permanent Representatives Committee/Mixed Committee on 24 May 2017…

The Presidency proposal to require all third country nationals to hold a valid travel authorisation in case of airport transit (unless they require an airport transit visa or they are in possession of a valid visa) could be supported by a majority of delegations….

The Committee is therefore invited to examine and endorse the text as set out in the Annex to this note with a view to reaching a general approach at the JHA Council meeting on 8-9 June 2017.

The European Parliament is in the process of establishing its position on the proposal…. “

Earlier documents: 9580-ADD-1-17 (LIMITE. pdf) and 9580-17 (LIMITE, pdf)

See also: Statewatch Observatory on the refugees crisis in the Med and inside the EU

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