European Commission
Commission calls on Member States to cut essential travel from India
The Commission has issued a recommendation for Member States to further restrict travel from India, to limit the spread of the B.1.617.2 COVID-19 variant first detected in India. This variant of concern has showed evidence of higher transmissibility and reduced neutralization; the WHO saying that it is partly responsible for the devastating second COVID-19 wave in India which began in February. The Commission therefore proposes that Member States apply an ‘emergency brake’ on non-essential travel from India – following on from 3 May, when the Commission had proposed to add an ‘emergency brake mechanism’ to the Council recommendation on restrictions to non-essential travel. The Commission remains adamant that such restrictions must be temporary in nature and regularly reviewed according to the EU epidemiological situation and the risk involved from the B.1.617.2 COVID-19 variant. (link)

Leaked working paper reveals Commission plans to combat online disinformation
In a leaked working paper, European Commission plans to tackle online disinformation as part of the Digital Services Act (DSA) package of legislation have been revealed. To recall, at the time of the publication of the DSA proposal in December 2020, several EU Member States asked for stronger measures to tackle harmful content, particularly Germany, Austria and Finland. Now, the working paper suggests the Commission envisages a risk-based approach, distinct from parallel measures to address illegal content (which is defined by national and/or Union law). The Commission will aim to focus on where the harm is greatest, introducing a “co-regulatory mechanism” to allow flexible and detailed commitments to be defined jointly by stakeholders and the Commission, and binding and enforceable obligations where harm is deemed to be systemic, given the wide reach of online platforms like Facebook and TikTok. Very large online platforms are defined by the Commission as reaching more than 10% of European consumers (i.e. around 45 million people). Finally, the working paper reveals enforcement of the DSA would be done by a European Board for Digital Services, and scrutinised by a Digital Services Coordinator, the latter being an independent authority to be appointed by EU Member States at a later stage. (link)

·        Ireland: Irish prison officers want gardai to police jails after recent surges in violent intimidation against prison officers from inmates. The Prison Officers Association (POA) said wardens are constantly being threatened by locked up thugs and gang members. (link)

·        Malta: Maltese police used a decoy package to arrest a criminal couple who had been sent a parcel from the Netherlands containing a kilogram of synthetic drugs. (link)

·        Norway: The Norwegian Conservative government’s national assembly will decide this weekend whether the Norwegian police should be permanently armed. (link)

·        Spain: Partying in many Spanish cities erupted last weekend after the nationwide curfew and state of emergency was ended, attracting the condemnation of Madrid’s Mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida Navasqüés, who stated “freedom does not consist of breaking the rules.” (link)

·        Sweden: Six women have been killed in only five weeks in Sweden, striking concerns about domestic violence becoming increasingly widespread in the country. (link)

·        UK: A Scottish man won an appeal against his 2-year sentence for spitting on a female police officer during the height of pandemic restrictions, in a court judgment described by David Hamilton, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation as “an appalling message.” (link)

Other news
France pledges to get tougher on those who attack police officers
After the recent murder of 36-year old French police officer Eric Masson during a drugs raid, and an increasing level of violence against French law enforcement in recent months, President Macron has pledged to ensure harsher punishments on those who commit violence against police, ahead of the regional elections in France next month and the Presidential election in 2022. In France, police are being regularly ambushed, especially at night, or during large protests – as happened frequently during the Mouvement des Gilets Jaunes and in recent anti-lockdown protests. Sebastian Roche, a sociologist and expert on policing, said that while police are at lower risk of being killed in France than in the 1980s, he stated the aggressive government policies on policing of the last two decades have diminished confidence in the police. Meanwhile, Macron has promised 10,000 more police officers in French streets by the end of his term. He has also laid out plans to install a 30-year prison sentence for the killing of a police officer, the same punishment as for terrorists. (link)Maltese police still denied right to strike
The Maltese Police Association has spoken out against the continued denial of their rights to strike, which it says is a direct breach of Article 6(4) of the European Charter on Fundamental Rights. Maltese police had recently signed a collective agreement with the government, which granted them the right to unionise and to be covered by insurance while on duty – however, Maltese law still stipulates that while the union can negotiate employment conditions and participate in police employment disputes of a “conciliatory, mediatory, arbitral or judicial nature” it also forbids the police union from taking “any other action in a disciplined force in contemplation or furtherance of a dispute.” While police officers in many EU countries are forbidden from striking, trade unions have since managed to challenge such outright bans, including for example in Ireland, in the case European Confederation of Police (EuroCOP) v Ireland, Complaint No. 83/2012, during which the European Committee of Social Rights (part of the Council of Europe) confirmed that the complete ban on the right to strike in police forces violated Article 6(4) of the Charter. (link)
Look Ahead

–        17 May: CEPOL is to host two online courses, the first entitled “International Law Enforcement Cooperation and Information Exchange” and the second entitled “OSINT: Focus on Fake News and Disinformation Leading to Extremism”. The duration for both courses is 3 weeks between 17 – 28 May and they include live training sessions and pre and post course activities.

–        18 May: The European Parliament is holding its monthly plenary session and there will be a debate on “Human rights protection and the EU external migration policy” based on a report by Tineke Strik. The debate will be followed by a vote taking place at the end of the day.

–        24-25 May: EU Summit – Leaders will be meeting in Brussels to discuss, among other things, the new Digital Green Certificate. With negotiations blocked due to lack of consensus between Parliament and Council, EU Leaders are expected to have a final say on the Council’s side of the legislative process.

–        27 May: EUCrimACon 21: The European Criminal analysis conference (Europol). The aim of the webinar will be to address criminal analysis in the EU, highlighting both strategic and operational analysis capabilities, as well as the importance of analysis training. Registration is open.

–        enforcement officers by presenting useful open source intelligence (OSINT) techniques and tools for cyber-investigations. Registration is open for law enforcement officials. More information here.


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