European Commission
Commission President tries to reassure Serbia over its possible EU accession
Ahead of a key Balkan-EU summit on October 6 in Slovenia, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has emphasised that Brussels has not forgotten about Serbia’s ambition to join the EU. “I am a strong advocate for bringing Serbia into the European Union,” said von der Leyen, during the opening ceremony of a Serbian railway. In February 2018, the Commission had said Serbia – the largest non-EU Balkan country with a population of just under 9 million – could join the EU by 2025. This timeline looks however fairly unrealistic, with Serbia’s failure to make progress on rule of law reforms holding up the accession talks. A further complication is Serbia’s relationship with Kosovo, whose independence (declared in 2008) Serbians do not recognize – yet a healthier Serbia-Kosovo dialogue would undoubtedly be a prerequisite for Serbia’s entry into the European Union. (link)

Commission presents report on Migration and Asylum
The Commission presented on 29 September a Report on Migration and Asylum, one year on from the release of its New Pact on Migration and Asylum. The report assesses progress on migration and asylum in the past year and a half, and highlights areas where major progress is required to ensure a fair and viable migration system. At the same time, the Commission has released a renewed Action Plan against migrant smuggling for 2021-25, with the core objective of building stronger international cooperation through Anti-Smuggling Operational Partnerships. The EU will also aim to build on and improve the implementation of existing legislation, specifically the Anti-trafficking DirectiveVictims’ Rights DirectiveResidence Permit Directive and the Employers Sanctions Directive. The importance of a well-managed, cohesive migration policy in Europe is all the more important, the Commission notes, given recent developments in Belarus and Afghanistan. (link)

Country News:

·        France: French police are facing disciplinary action over the death of a woman who was burned to death by her husband, weeks after telling police she feared for her life. (link)

·        Italy: Italian police have raided the homes of anti-vaccine activists who aimed to use homemade explosives to carry out violent attacks on public demonstrations. (link)

·        Malta: A Maltese businessman is set to stand trial for the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. (link)

·        Norway: Norwegian police reported dozens of disturbances and violent incidences after the country’s COVID-19 containment measures lapsed. (link)

·        Germany and Netherlands: German and Dutch police in coordination with Europol have caught a gang that was offering tutorials on how to blow up ATMs.  (link)

·        Portugal: Portuguese police have seized two tonnes of hashish in a major drugs bust off the coast of the Algarve. (link)

·        Slovenia: Slovenian police used tear gas and water cannons at a large-scale anti-COVID pass protest. (link)

·        UK: UK Home Secretary Priti Patel is embroiled in a row with French police, who have threatened to stop patrolling the English Channel coastline for migrants if Patel withholds millions of pounds she promised to pay them. (link)

Other news
European Parliament tries to freeze portion of Frontex’s 2022 budget
The European Parliament’s Budget Control committee (CONT) have recommended that part of the 2022 budget for the EU Coastguard and Border Agency, Frontex, be frozen. MEPs said that while Frontex had made some progress in addressing the agency’s problems as flagged in a parliamentary report earlier in 2021, there were still unresolved problems in recruitment and budgeting, as well as in its operations in fighting illegal immigration and cross-border crime. The CONT committee therefore asked for part of the agency’s 2022 budget to be frozen until a number of specific conditions have been fulfilled – including the installation of 20 missing fundamental rights monitors; the recruitment of three deputy Executive Directors who are sufficiently qualified to fill these positions; establishment of a mechanism for reporting serious incidents on the EU’s external borders and a functioning fundamental rights monitoring system. On 5 October, the Budget committee (BUDG) will vote on its position, regarding the amount of next year’s Frontex budget to be put in reserve at €90,000,000, which constitutes around 12% of Frontex’s proposed draft budget for 2022. (link)

UK Police Chiefs’ Council to provide strategic and technical support to Malta’s Police Force
The UK National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) has announced it will provide Malta’s Police Force with technical and strategic advice, as well as logistical support for the force’s Transformation Strategy 2020-2025. The agreement means the Maltese police will be able to gain from the expertise in digitalization, community policing and professional development of 43 territorial police organisations in the UK and UK College of Policing. Further, the agreement materialised from a series of talks between the British High Commission in Malta, the NPCC and the Home Affairs Ministry. The final agreement was signed by Maltese Police Chief Angelo Gafà and the British High Commissioner Katherine Ward. (link)

Look Ahead :

–       4 October: The European Parliament’s LIBE committee will discuss the report on artificial intelligence in criminal law and its use by the police and judicial authorities in criminal matters.

–       7 October: The European Parliament holds a plenary session covering, amongst other issues, the EU Agency for Asylum, cases of human rights and rule of law breaches, and the situation in Belarus after one year of protests.

–       7 October: Commissioner Johannson hosts the High Level Forum on providing protection to Afghans at risk. More info available here.

–       11-22 October: CEPOL is running an online training course to enhance information exchange between law enforcement authorities in the Member States as well as cooperation and exchange of knowledge via Single Points of Contact (SPOC). More info can be found here.



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