European Commission

Commission presents new Counter-Terrorism Agenda
This week, the European Commission presented its new Counter-Terrorism Agenda, looking to support Member States in better anticipating, preventing, protecting and responding to the terrorist threat. The proposal includes a revised  mandate for Europol, to  deliver better operational support  for Member States investigations. The new mandate will allow Europol to act as a focal point when it is not clear which Member State has jurisdiction and includes measures on processing large and complex datasets; improving cooperation with the European Public Prosecutor’s Office as well as with non-EU partner countries;   and   helping   develop   new   technologies   that   match   law   enforcement   needs.   (link) Commissioner Johansson stressed that the Commission would prioritise a police cooperation code in 2021 (link)

European Parliament

LIBE Committee adopts position on proposed regulation for tackling online child sexual abuse
The Civil Liberties Committee in the European Parliament this week voted to adopt its position on the proposed regulation to changes to rules governing the privacy of electronic communications in order for services to continue to detect, report and remove child sexual abuse online on a voluntary basis. Rapporteur  Birgit  Sippel  said:  “Child  sexual  abuse  is  a  horrible  crime  and  we  have  to  get  better  at preventing  it,  prosecuting  offenders  and  assisting  survivors,  both  online  and  offline.  Parliament therefore wants existing legal scanning practices to continue being used for online child sexual abuse material”. She also said solutions should respect the EU Charter of Fundamental rights, the GDPR and the rule of law. (link)

European Council

European Council Summit discusses
The European Council held a Summit this week, discussing issues such as the MFF and Next Generation EU fund, COVID-19, climate change, security and external relations. Leaders notably reached consensus on the new budged and recovery fund. On COVID, the conclusions support developing a coordinated approach  to  vaccination  certificates.  They  also  highlighted  the  importance  of  preparations  for  the timely  deployment  and  distribution  of  vaccines,  including  the  development  of  national  vaccination strategies. The conclusions from the summit also note further support for law enforcement across the EU and the proper functioning of the Schengen area and says the implementation of agreed measures should  be  stepped  up  substantially.  They  also  noted  that  police  and  judicial  cooperation  and coordination should be strengthened. (link)

Council and Parliament reach provisional agreement on Visa Information System
The Council Presidency and the European Parliament this week reached a provisional agreement on the main elements for improving the Visa Information System. The main aims of the amending regulation include further strengthening the security of the short-stay visa procedure, including long-stay visas and residence permits in the VIS database and ensuring interoperability between the VIS and other relevant EU systems and databases. The access of Europol and law enforcement authorities to VIS data would  also  be  integrated  into  the  VIS  regulation.  (link)  The  Council  Presidency  and  the  European Parliament also reached a provisional agreement on a draft regulation on addressing the dissemination of terrorist content online. (link) Several agreements were also reached when it comes to the budget priorities for 2021-27, including on the Internal Security Fund (link), border management fund (link) and the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (link). Elsewhere, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has published a report on fundamental rights issues at external land borders. (link)

Other news

CEPOL looks at operational training needs across three areas
The  EU  Agency  for  Law  Enforcement  Training  (CEPOL)  has  launched  an  operational  training  needs analysis (OTNA) on three strategic areas including counterterrorism, child sexual exploitation and sexual abuse  and  law  enforcement  cooperation  and  information  exchange.  Law  enforcement  officials  and experts across Europe, nominated by their Member States, have been invited to take part in an online survey, the results of which will contribute to the design of CEPOL’s training portfolio for 2022. (link)

CEPEJ adopts feasibility study on certification mechanism for artificial intelligence
The European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) has adopted a feasibility study on the possible establishment of a certification mechanism for artificial intelligence tools and services.  It is based on the CEPEJ Charter on the use of artificial intelligence in judicial systems and their environment, adopted in December 2018, and will be followed by action plan expected to be sent to the Committee of Ministers for examination in 2021. (link)

OSHA publishes report on preventing musculoskeletal disorders in a diverse workforce
The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (OSHA) has published a new report looking at the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and the associated physical, psychosocial, individual and organisational risk factors in three specific groups of workers: women, migrants and LGBTI workers. The report focuses on why workers in these groups are more often exposed to MSD-related risk factors, and report a higher prevalence of health issues, including MSDs, than other workers. (link)

ECRI publishes evaluation reports on Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic
The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) of the Council of Europe has published evaluation reports on the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic, focused on ensuring that all forms of segregation of Roma children of schools and ending discrimination of LGBTI persons. ECRI has also published an assessment of the implementation of two priority recommendations by Sweden, noting that  the  country  has  not  yet  implemented  the  recommendation  to  grant  adequate  powers  to  the Ombuds institutions to investigate discrimination by all public authorities, including law enforcement agencies. (link)

Look ahead

–      14 December: Videoconference of EU home affairs ministers with focus on migration & asylum, security, interoperability and online terrorist content (here)

–       15 December (TBC): Meeting of the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home

Affairs (LIBE) Committee with an exchange of views with the EU Task Force for relations with the UK on the outcome of negotiations for an EU-UK relationship with regard to LIBE-related matters (here).

–       14 – 17 December: European Parliament plenary

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