|Council formally adopts three approaches to improve operational police cooperation
In order to enhance operational police cooperation in the EU, on 10 June the Council adopted a Recommendation on the issue, alongside two general approaches – the first on the proposal for an information exchange directive and the second on the proposal for a Prüm II regulation. The operational police cooperation Recommendation sets out a series of objectives for enhancing cross-border hot pursuits, surveillance and operations, as well as introducing a support platform for joint patrols, information and communication through secure channels. It also recommends joint training and professional development to help establish “a European police culture.” Meanwhile, the general approach adopted on the information exchange directive aims to ensure equivalent access for law enforcement authorities across the EU to information from the various police agencies, whilst bolstering the role of Europol as the criminal information hub of the EU. This includes introducing a single point of contact (SPOC), operational 24/7, for information exchanges with other EU countries. Furthermore, the general approach Council adopted on the Prüm II regulation aims to extend the automatic data exchange that already occurs between Member States – of DNA, fingerprint and vehicle registration data – to other key data categories for criminal investigations, such as facial images, police records, and driving licenses. Negotiations on the two legislative proposals for the information exchange directive and Prüm II Regulation will begin once the European Parliament has formally adopted its own position on these points. (link)Council adopts its general approach on the Schengen borders code
On 10 June, the Council of the EU adopted its general approach for a reform to the Schengen borders code, as part of work conducted under the French Presidency to tackle new challenges in the field of migration. The Council proposed the introduction of new tools to combat the instrumentalisation of migrant flows; the establishment of a new legal framework for external border measures in the event of a health crisis (in view of the extraordinary situation presented by COVID-19 and the need to future-proof border security in this regard); and finally, an update to the framework for introducing internal border controls. On the latter point, the Council specifies clear conditions for the introduction of internal border controls in the EU, in line with a recent ruling from the European Court of Justice. Under the general position adopted, the Council states: “If a continued need for internal border controls is confirmed beyond two years and six months, the member state concerned will need to notify the Commission of its intention to further prolong internal border controls, providing justification for doing so and specifying the date on which it expects to lift controls.” (link)
· Belgium: In light of recent allegations of increased violence and systemic racism between Belgian police force and citizens, Interior Minister Verlinden called for longer training for police officers in Belgium. (link)
· Denmark: According to data from the Danish National Police, the controversial ‘jewellery law’, which allows police officers to confiscate cash and valuables from incoming migrants and asylum seekers, has been used 17 times since it came into force. (link)
· Finland: Seven police officers have been charged for their use of forcible measures, namely pepper spray, against 16 participants of a protest in Helsinki. (link)
· France: Two investigations have been opened after police officers seriously injured two people on 4 June suspected of running into them during a traffic stop in Paris. (link)
· Hungary: In a speech in parliament, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced that he had given the interior minister the task of setting up a new police force to exclusively deal with migration issues. (link)
· Malta: Anthony Scerri, a police inspector in charge of numerous high-profile corruption cases, left the Maltese police department as part of a larger exodus from Maltese police corps. (link)
· Netherlands: With the coordination by the Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), police forces in the Netherlands and nine other countries disabled the IT infrastructure behind the FluBot malware. (link)
· Spain: Human rights activists in Spain and Morocco have called for government investigations after more than 20 people died when 2,000 migrants attempted to scale the border fence between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla. (link)
Melilla tragedy prompts international outrage and demands for investigation by MEPs
The deaths of at least 37 migrants attempting to cross the border from Morocco to the Spanish enclave of Melilla has sparked international condemnation of the way Spanish and Moroccan authorities reacted to the incident. Between 1,500 and 2000 migrants who had been camping in the Moroccan mountains had travelled to the Melilla border outpost on Friday 24 June, with the attempt to cross the EU border into the Spanish territory. The sudden influx led to a stampede, leaving hundreds wounded and resulting in at least 37 fatalities. In comments that attracted widespread criticism from NGOs and commentators, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez avoided placing the blame on Morocco and instead castigated the traffickers and “mafias” that lured migrants towards the border. In response to the tragedy, a group of 51 MEPs, primarily from the Greens/EFA and leftist GUE/NGL parliamentary groups have called for an urgent inquiry into the issue, to “determine the necessary responsibilities.”
|EU clamps down on crytocurrency transactions to curb money-laundering and terrorist financing
On 29 June 2022, EU trilogue negotiations on the Transfer of Funds Regulation (TFR) concluded, with Parliament, Council and Commission agreeing a deal to ensure cryptocurrency transfers can be traced and suspicious transactions blocked – in line with the Financial Action Task Force’s travel rule. Under the travel Rule, the originators and beneficiaries of all transfers of digital funds must exchange identifying information. The rule will apply to all VASPs, financial institutions and obliged entities. Additionally, the originators and beneficiaries involved in a transfer must be able to guarantee the accuracy of the information they send to the other. The chief objective of the legislation is to allow EU Member States to curb illegal transactions carried out on the Blockchain, especially money laundering and terrorist financing. EU lawmakers had been keep to expedite negotiations on the TFR especially in view of recent fears that Russian oligarchs might be trying to use cryptocurrency to evade EU sanctions.Look Ahead:5 July: The Council of the EU’s Law Enforcement Working Party (Police) meets. On the agenda: proposal for a Regulation laying down rules to prevent and combat child sexual abuse.
7 July: European Parliament plenary session. On the agenda: MEPs will discuss with Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala the programme of the Czech Republic’s six month-long Council Presidency, which starts on 1 July. MEPs will also discuss the recent tragic events at the Spanish enclave of Melilla.
4 – 8 July: CEPOL is hosting a training session to improve knowledge on the existing patterns of excise fraud, especially relating to cigarette smuggling and illegal manufacturing of cigarettes.