|Interinstitutional negotiations begin on Europol mandate revision and Schengen Information System
The Commission’s proposal to strengthen Europol’s mandate, in order to reinforce police cooperation across the EU and enhance the agency’s data sharing capabilities, is progressing fast through the EU’s legislative process. On 21 October, the European Parliament voted to enter interinstitutional negotiations with the Council of the EU, in what is termed “trilogues” – where both institutions enter an intense negotiation cycle with the aim of hammering out a joint compromise text. The Slovenian Minister of the Interior, Ales Hojs (whose country holds the Council Presidency) stated on 27 October that the first trilogue meeting took place with a “constructive atmosphere” and revealed a compromise should be possible by the end of this year. The meeting was also attended by the Parliament’s rapporteur Javier Zarzalejos, an MEP from Spain, as well as the Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson. Linked to the proposal to strengthen Europol’s mandate is an additional legislative proposal that aims to modify the Schengen Information System (SIS), to allow Europol to issue alerts in SIS under a new category. (link)
Commission is aiming to strengthen ties with third countries in the context of the EU’s migration policy
· France: French police have ordered 26 units of a mid-engine sports car, the Alpine A110, to be used by the Gendarmerie in rural areas with fewer than 20,000 inhabitants. (link)
· Greece: Greek police have arrested several Tibetan activists protesting against the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, who disrupted the flame-lighting ceremony in Olympia and unfurled a Tibetan flag. (link)
· Germany: German police said they stopped more than 50 far-right vigilantes armed with pepper spray, machetes and batons who were patrolling the Polish border to stop migrants from entering Germany. (link)
· Italy: A man under house arrest in Italy asked the Carabinieri to arrest him and put him behind bars, because he was “no longer able to cope with the forced cohabitation with his wife.” (link)
· Malta: Malta has still not submitted any actionable reports to the European Public Prosecutor in over 5 months, and the Prosecutor, Laura Kovesi, stated all national authorities have a duty to inform her office of any criminal conduct of a financial nature. (link)
· Slovenia: Slovenian police had to fire tear gas and water cannons in a wide-scale anti-lockdown protest in Ljubljana on 5 October, just ahead of an EU Western Balkans summit in Brdo. (link)
· Spain: Spanish authorities coordinated an EU-wide operation against several organized crime groups, leading to 330 arrests. The operation was jointly conducted with Interpol and Europol, within the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT) framework. (link)
· UK: The United Kingdom joined the EU’s vaccine passport system, meaning that EU countries will recognise the UK NHS vaccine QR code, and the UK will recognise EU QR codes. (link)
|European Parliament supports ban on facial recognition technology at least in mass surveillance terms
On 6 October the European Parliament voted to adopt a resolution which calls for a ban on police and judicial authorities using facial recognition, at least in the form of mass surveillance in public places. The resolution, which was adopted by a majority of 71 votes and 62 abstentions, proved a source of contention for the various parliamentary political groups with the EPP (the largest group) voting mostly against, and the other major groupings – the S&D, Renew Europe, and Greens/EFA backing it without exception. Central to this divergence was where AI can be a useful tool for police forces, and where AI undermines fundamental rights and civil liberties. Referencing data from “multiple NGOs,” the resolution’s author, Petar Vitanov (S&D, Bulgaria) described cases where persons were arrested following wrongful facial recognition. By contrast, Belgian EPP MEP warned against outright bans, stating “We must remain vigilant but we must not throw out the baby with the bathwater.” Commissioner Ylva Johanssen also indicated her position was more in line with the EPP’s, and pointed towards recent AI success stories, such as the capture of the murderers of Dutch journalist Peter De Vries in July using smart technology. (link)
France captures British fishing trawler as Brexit fishing tension escalates
|Look Ahead :
– 30-31 October: G20 Summit in Rome, Italy, where world leaders will discuss, amongst other issues, the need to improve global health resilience via a possible international treaty on pandemics.
– 31 October – 12 November: 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow, Scotland.
– 9 November: LIBE Committee meeting – agenda not yet released but will be soon accessible at this link.
– 24 November: European Parliament plenary sitting discusses breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.