Statewatch News Online, 9 November 2007 (25/07)
Home page: www.statewatch.org
Statewatch Observatory on the EU Reform Treaty:
1. EU-PNR: Proposal and reactions
1. EU-PNR: Reactions: European Airline body dismayed at proposal for EU-PNR system (Association of European Arlines, press release):
Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus, Secretary General of the Association of European Airlines said: “Commissioner Frattini’s proposed decentralised system means that our carriers will have to comply with 27 different national data collection systems. We are talking about an operational and technical nightmare ? and the Commission totally ignores the financial implications for the airline industry, which we haven’t even started assessing yet.” The Association is also calling for the EU-PNR system to be “applied to all transport modes, so as to avoid discrimination and comptetitive distortions” (that is, to sea, rail and land travel).
– Green group in the European Parliament: Civil liberties: New anti-terror measures seem unnecessary and incoherent (link): www.greens-efa.org/cms/pressreleases/
– ALDE (liberal group) in European Parliament: New EU anti-terrorism measures will further erode our civil liberties (link) www.alde.eu/index.php?id=42&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=9027&cHash=3672ec3da6
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:
“Unless stopped in its tracks it is just a question of time before the scope of the EU-PNR scheme is extended to cover all crime, flights inside and between Member States and sea, land and rail travel as well.”
– European Commission PNR proposal: Summary of impact assessment (SEC 1422): www.statewatch.org/news/2007/nov/
The impression is confirmed when the assessment speaks of:
“ a wider application at a later stage. It should be left to member states to extend the scope of the proposal to other modes of transport at this point…. the majority of consulted parties agree the scope of the proposal should be limited to air transport as a first step, with the possibility of extending it to other forms of transport at a later stage…At this stage, it is thought disproportionate to extend the scope of the proposal to flights from one Member State to another Member State and to internal flights within a Member State”
– Commission proposes EU-PNR: PNR (passenger name record) scheme proposed to place under surveillance all travel in and out of the EU:
– For full background and the European Commission’s PNR proposal see- Observatory: EU surveillance of passengers (PNR):
2. EU-DATA PROTECTION: Letter:
and Comments from EU Data Protection authorities to the Portuguese Council Presidency on the draft Framework Decision on personal data in police and judicial issues:
The Working Party on Police and Justice – nominated by the Conference of European Data Protection Authorities is concerned about the fact the the individual will only have access to the data held on them (subject to many exceptions) if they make a formal request (Article 12) rather than being informed automatically that data on them is being processed and further transmitted.
– Latest Draft of the Framework Decision on the protection of personal data in police and judicial matters (EU doc no: 14119/07, dated: 23 October 2007):
– For full background and documentation see: Statewatch’s Observatory on data protection in the EU: www.statewatch.org/eu-dp.htm
3. EU-JHA COUNCIL: Press release for 8 November 2007:
Final agendas for the Justice and Home Affairs Council:
– “B” Point agenda:
4. ECJ: Court of Justice rules against the Commission: The Court of First Instance annuls the Commission Decision refusing to disclose the names of all participants at a meeting in the context of proceedings for failure to fulfil obligations (press release):
– and Full-text of judgment:
The European Court of Justice ruled that the European Commission should have identified the people who attended an anti-trust meeting. This should be a boost to campaigners who want more transparency among lobbyists. European Court verdict supports drive for increased transparency in EU decision-making.
– Corporate Europe Observatory press release, 8 November 2007:
5. EUROPEAN OMBUDSMAN: Statewatch wins complaint against the European Commission (full-story and documentation):
The European Ombudsman’s Decision says that:
“In the Ombudsman’s view, the reasons given by the Commission to explain its failure, which refer to administrative and organisational constraints, do not show that there was an objective impossibility for the Commission to comply with its legal obligation (ultra posse nemo obligatur)” and
“The Ombudsman considers that the instance of maladministration revealed by the present inquiry is especially deplorable since the publication of reports is a key mechanism of accountability to, and communication with, European citizens. The Commission should set a good example to the many new Community Agencies which have recently been established by giving high priority in future to the timely publication of reports.”
This is the first of two complaints lodged by Statewatch against the Commission. Previously Statewatch won eight complaints taken to the European Ombudsman against the Council of the European Union.
6. Fortress Europe report on Libya: Escape from Tripoli: Report on the conditions of migrants in transit in Libya:
7. EU: Proposed expansion of EU terrorism law a threat to freedom of expression (Analysis and full-text of Commission proposals:
It must be asked why the welcome proposals on “practical action to stem the use of explosives” have taken so long to be put forward? The Commission should focus on practical steps to improve cooperation between the Member States instead of trying to impose sweeping restrictions on freedom of expression
8. EU: All children in the EU over six years old to be fingerprinted for EU passports and ID cards.
The European Commission is proposing that all children over 6 are fingerprinted for EU passports (and nationally-issued ID cards) – the only reason that those less than six years old are not to be fingerprinted is a technical one: “the fingerprints of children under the age of 6 seemed not to be of sufficient quality for one-to-one verification of identity” The term “and travel documents” mainly refers to the use of nationally issued ID cards which are used to travel in the EU Schengen area – in December 2006 the Council of the European Union adopted a Resolution saying that the same standards had to be used for ID cards as for EU passports (ie: the taking of biometrics, fingerprints).
The new Regulation is proposed under Article 62(2)(a) of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC) which gives the European Parliament the power of co-decision with the Council of the European Union.
– Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council, amending Council Regulation (EC) No 2252/2004 on standards for security features and biometrics in passports and travel documents issued by Member States (presented by the Commission):
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:
“The taking of finger-prints from all children from the age of six upwards is highly questionable and is a moral and political question, not a technical one.
The European Parliament has the power of co-decision on this measure – it is to be hoped that it will reject it and do so in a way that is open and transparent for all to see”
– see Fingerprinting children:
9. EU-G6 Communique: The G6 group of EU states is comprised of: France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK meeting in Poland: Joint Declaration by the Ministers of Interior of G6 States Sopot, 18 October 2007:
Four points, from this secret meeting, stand out:
1) The G6 states “will actively participate in the works aimed at achieving the desired shape and scope of task of the internal security committee” – this is reference to the Standing Committee on operational cooperation (known as COSI) to be created under the Reform Treaty;
2) They also welcome “the work of the Futures group” – this is a reference to the group set up under the German Council Presidency earlier this year to draw up the next five year plan for justice and home affairs (following the Tampere programme, 1999 and the Hague programme, 2004) – despite promises none of the documents being discussed are available;
3) Undoubtedly at the behest of the UK the G6 Ministers noted the difficulty of expelling “non-nationals who pose a threat to national security”. The Minister want to see an “EU commitment to “seek assurance through diplomatic understandings” – a reference to the highly controversial agreements reached by the UK to deport people to Jordan, Libya and Morocco;
4) In a direct reference to the mass protests at the G8 Heiligendamm Summit earlier this year the Ministers refer to the “acts of violence” at “mass events” which affected the “security of participants” and want to “continue the discussion” on “providing security and public order”. See Statewatch report: Heiligendamm G8 Summit: a chronology of protest and represssion:
– Conclusions of the G6 meetings in Venice, 11-12 May 2007
– Conclusions of Interior Ministers meeting 25-26 October 2006
– G6 meeting in Stratford upon Avon, UK
– G5 Group on Interior Ministers becomes G6: Meeting of the Interior Ministers of France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom, Heiligendamm, 22 and 23 March 2006 – Full-text of Conclusions:
10. EU-MANDATORY-RETENTION-OF-TELECOMMUNICATIONS-DATA: Germany: Press freedom under attack: Big Brother Eyes German Journalists (Speigel Online, link):
See: Statewatch Observatory: The surveillance of telecommunications in the EU:
11. USA-EU-REST OF WORLD-FISA: US Senate agree to give immunity from prosecution to companies spy on the telecommunications of non-US citizens, that is, the rest of the world under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The Senate agreed that that civil immunity should be afforded to companies that aided the warrantless surveillance program. According to the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, immunity will be granted to providers who received a written request for the information stating that the program was authorised by the president and determined to be lawful.See: EPIC’s page on FISA:
12. UK-STOP-AND-SEARCH: Stop and search figures released by the Justice Ministry for 2005-6 (England an Wales):
“Overall, Black people were nearly 7 times more likely to be searched than White people (this ratio is higher than the 2004/5 ratio of 6 times).”
Asian people were 2.1 times as likely as White people to be stopped and searched, compared to 1.8 times in the previous year. People in the ‘Other’ ethnic group were 1.7 times more likely to be stopped than White people in 2005/6, compared with 1.6 times in 2004/52.
13. GREECE: “The truth may be bitter, but it must be told”: Greece: PRO ASYL and Greek Group of Lawyers reveal systematic human rights abuses in the Aegean and Brussels. asylum procedures within the European Union. Call on EU to react:
Full-text of report: www.statewatch.org/news/2007/oct/greece-proasyl-refugees.pdf
14. EU-LIBYA: FRONTEX led EU illegal immigration technical mission to Libya 28 May-5 June 2007:
15. EU:Police Chiefs Task Force is to be supported by the Hague/Europol-based: Police Chiefs Task Force Support Unit (EU doc no: 13416/07):
– Background: Statewatch analysis: The EU’s Police Chief Task Force (PCTF) and Police Chiefs Committee:
16. UK: Government is to consult on the “Governance of Britain”: including: War powers and treaties: limiting Executive powers:
Centuries overdue proposal to remove the “royal prerogative” powers exercised by government:
The “Ponsonby Rules”. Arthur Ponsonby, a life-long pacifist and campaigner for open government, was an Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Office in the Ramsay MacDonald Labour government of 1924. He gave an undertaking, during the 2nd reading of the Treaty of Peace (Turkey) Bill on 1 April 1924, that the House of Commons would be informed of all treaties and agreements and that they would be “laid” before the House for 21 days and it became the constitutional practice. Unlike most other national legislatures where written constitutions gives parliaments the formal power of ratifying treaties and international agreements this power rests with the government in the UK (exercising the royal prerogative on behalf of the monarch).
17. UK: Joint Human Rights Committee: Human Trafficking: Update:
18. USA: Terrorists watch list: “As of May 2007, the consolidated watch list contained approximately 755,000 records” according to a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) : GOA report: Terrorist watch list screening:
According to the report: “From December 2003 through May 2007, screening and law enforcement agencies encountered individuals who were positively matched to watch list records approximately 53,000 times. Many individuals were matched multiple times. The outcomes of these encounters reflect an array of actions, such as arrests; denials of entry into the United States; and, most often, questioning and release.” It also observes that: “subjects of watch list records have passed undetected through agency screening processes and were not identified, for example, until after they had boarded and flew on an aircraft or were processed at a port of entry and admitted into the United States.”
19. EU-EUROPOL: Third round of Mutual Evaluations “Exchange of information and intelligence between Europol and the Member States and among the Member States respectively” ? Final Report on the evaluation visits of all 27 Member States:
20. EU-USA-SWIFT: US Federal Register: Department of the Treasury: Office of Foreign Assets Control Notice: Publication of U.S./EU: Exchange of Letters and Terrorist Finance Tracking Program Representations of the United States Department of the Treasury (thanks to Cryptome):
The exchange of letters between the EU and the USA shows how the US access to all bank money transfers in the EU (and world-wide) is to be legitimated: it will be accessed by the USA for “commercial purposes” under the so-called “Safe Harbour” scheme. However, the data is not being collected for “commercial purposes” but for the US Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme on suspected terrorists and their contacts.
21. EU: “Legal migration” proposals from the Commission:Council Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly qualified employment ( COM 637): www.statewatch.org/news/2007/oct/
– and Proposal for a Council Directive on a single application procedure for a single permit for third-country nationals to reside and work in the territory of a Member State and on a common set of rights for third-country workers legally residing in a Member State (COM 638):
The Commission, as agreed by the Council (the EU governments), has put forward two proposals to meet the needs of the labour market resulting from “demographic problems resulting from our ageing population” and the “limited mobility of EU citizens”. A “Blue Card is to be introduced to attract “highly qualified workers” – described by the Commission from as “the brightest and the best” from third world countries. The second proposal introduces a “single application procedure” and a “common set of rights for third country workers legally residing in a Member State”.
The Commission claims that the “negative “brain drain” effects in developing countries” will be “avoided” through “ethical recruitment standards” which will limit, or ban, “active recruitment by Member States in developing countries already suffering from “serious brain drain” – a statement that defies comprehension.
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:
“The proposal to have a common set of rights for third country workers is to be welcomed but the underlying “legal migration”, Blue Card scheme, is not.
On the one hand the EU removes evermore the rights of refugees fleeing from poverty and persecution seeking sanctuary. On the other, due to the EU’s ageing population, it wants to actively recruit highly skilled workers from the third world in order to maintain its own standards of living – and thus maintain, if not exacerbate, an already unequal relationship.
It is a policy devoid of humanity or principle.”
22. EUROPEAN GENDARMERIE FORCE (EUROGENDFOR): Treaty establishing the European Gendarmerie Force:
– set up by Spain, France, Italy, Netherlands and Portugal. Para-military police units (”police forces with military status” to be used in “crisis management” anywhere in the world including by NATO or in the EU. EUROGENDFOR will be under the control and political direction of CIMIN (High Level Interdepartmental Committee) The Treaty is open to other EU member states or candidate countries).
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:
“This ad hoc initiative taken by five EU member states states brings together armed para-military units, some of which are infamous for their behaviour at protests. The EGF will be acting in the support of the military in the name of the EU as a whole. Military plans would allow this force to be used inside the EU as well as outside.
What lines of accountability for its actions will there be? It will be accountable only to itself”
See for background:
– EU: Five countries establish a European paramilitary police force:
– Statewatch: Global “policing” role for EU: How “non-military crisis management” will “contaminate” justice and home affairs, trade and aid:
23. EP-LIQUIDS-BAN: On 4 October the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee (JURE) decided, unanimously, to take the European Commission to the European Court of Justice over Regulation 915/2007 concerning the confiscation of duty free liquids at EU airports for passengers arriving from third countries.
– Letter from Ignasi Guardans, MEP, ALDE group to chair of LIBE Committee: following which the Committee for Civil Liberties (LIBE) wrote to the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI):
– Opinion of the parliament’s Legal Service: to the Legal Affairs Committee:
– Regulation 915/2007:
24. UK: Independent Police Complaints Commission report: Stockwell One – on the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes (full-text):