EU’s data protection authority sues lawmakers over Europol mandate extension
On 22 September, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) published a legal action against EU lawmakers who recently adopted a strengthened mandate for Europol. The measures that the EDPS is bringing before the EU Court of Justice are related to the fact that Europol’s strengthened mandate is legalising its data retention practices. Indeed, back in January, the Data Supervisor ordered that the law enforcement agency should erase its data concerning individuals with no established link to a crime. According to the EDPS, this expanded mandate would establish a “worrying precedent”, as it would allow Europol to exchange this data with private companies and develop in-house artificial intelligence tools. This would in turn put individual protection at risk, especially in a highly sensitive field like law enforcement. (link)
European Commission prepares EU-wide cross-border police record search system
With its December 2021 proposal known as Prüm II, the EU seeks to facilitate information sharing between Member States’ law enforcement authorities and Europol by harmonising database access and adding facial image databases to the existing Prüm network which already contains DNA, fingerprints, and vehicle registration data. This proposal also includes the possibility for Member States to join a “European Police Records Information System” (EPRIS): this system will allow countries to open up their police records, which would be searchable by any other Member State police force and Europol for “the prevention detection and investigation of criminal offences”. However, in case of a “hit”, the police forces would have to send a request to receive further information from the country holding the record. To develop this system, the Commission has already funded several projects from national police forces and will continue doing so. What remains unclear is the legal basis on which this system would rely, as EPRIS has yet to be discussed by MEPs. NGOs like Statewatch and European Digital Rights (EDRi) are sceptical about this system and are calling on MEPs to demand concrete evidence of its necessity. (link)
- Austria: A police firearms instructor is currently under investigation after accidentally shooting dead a fellow police officer during a training exercise. (link)
- Belgium: On 13 September, the Belgian police in collaboration with Europol arrested several suspects smuggling people from Turkey on private planes and providing them with fake diplomatic passports. (link)
- Bulgaria: On 6 September, the Bulgarian Interior Minister announced that at least 10 Bulgarian police officers were involved in a trafficking scheme to help irregular migrants cross the border from Turkey. Two policemen were also recently killed by a bus carrying irregular migrants. (link)
- Cyprus: On 19 September, the Cypriot authorities announced that almost 280 people tried to leave the country illegally under identity theft since the beginning of the year. (link)
- Estonia: Estonian Interior Minister recently announced that within the next few years, police officers’ salaries should be increased by 15 percent. (link)
- Finland: As of 7 September, police departments across Finland will enforce new speeding laws, including the use of special speed enforcement units. (link)
- France: On 7 September, a 22-year-old woman was shot and killed by a police officer during an anti-drugs operation. In a separate incident, a man was also shot dead by the police while driving a stolen vehicle. (link)
- Greece: On 17 September, the Greek riot police reportedly assaulted students and education workers protesting in Athens and other cities against the introduction of a campus police force. (link)
- Italy: On 20 September, clashes broke out between police and protesters near a rally for the far-right election frontrunner Giorgia Meloni. (link)
- Latvia: The Latvian authorities dismantled a major money laundering criminal group that has been active in the country since 2019 after several months of investigation and criminal proceedings. (link)
- Netherlands: On 14 September, the Dutch cybercrime team arrested a 39-year-old man suspected of laundering millions of euros via stolen cryptocurrencies. (link)
- Portugal: On 26 September, the Portuguese Prime Minister has announced that 1,100 more police officers will join the Judiciary Police (PJ) by 2026. (link)
- Slovenia: On 23 September, the Slovenian authorities caught 103 migrants trying to cross the border illegally from Slovenia to Italy. (link)
- Spain: On 15 September, the Spanish police arrested one of Europe’s “biggest money launderers” along with two of his associates in Malaga, who were collecting up to €350,000 a day. (link)
- Sweden: On 1 September, the Swedish Prime Minister announced that she wants to expand the number of police employees to 50,000 by 2032, out of which 34,000 would be uniformed police officers. (link)
Tension at Russian borders following Putin’s mobilisation of reservists’ announcement
On 21 September, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a call-up for reservists amid recent battlefield losses against Ukraine. Following this announcement, Russian citizens started leaving the country, causing tensions at neighbouring countries’ borders like Georgia and Mongolia, where satellite images showed large queues of vehicles. On the other hand, this also led to misleading information being spread on social media: on 21 September, videos and images circulating on Twitter showed irregular queues at the Finnish-Russian border. However, officials from the Finnish Border Guard who were monitoring the traffic in real time affirmed that this footage was captured weeks before Putin’s announcement and that queues at the border were normal. The next day, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin announced that the government is currently considering ways to reduce Russian transit to Finland. (link)
- 3-21 October 2022: CEPOL is hosting a training session on improving operational cooperation between law enforcement authorities by increasing language abilities of key law enforcement officials. More information here.
- 5 October: Council of the EU Law Enforcement Working Party meets to discuss the proposal laying down rules to prevent and combat child sexual abuse.
- 10 October: European Parliament LIBE committee meets to discuss automated data exchange for police cooperation (“Prüm II”), with the deadline for MEPs tabling amendments falling on 21 October 2022. Also on this day, LIBE MEPs will discuss Information exchange between law enforcement authorities of Member States (repealing Council Framework Decision 2006/960/JHA). Full agenda available here.