European Commission
Commission launches new bio-defense preparedness plan against COVID variants
The Commission has this week launched a new European bio-defence preparedness plan against COVID-19 variants called “HERA Incubator”. The aim of the plan is to work with researchers, biotech companies, manufacturers and public authorities in the EU and globally to detect new variants and provide incentives to develop new and adapted vaccines. It will also look to speed up the approval process for these vaccines and ensure scaling up of manufacturing capacities. (link) The Commission has also approved a second contract with Moderna, to provide for an additional purchase of 300 million doses of its vaccine. The contract includes the option of donating the vaccine to lower and middle-income countries or to re-direct it to other European countries. (link) Meanwhile Commissioners Johansson and Reynders have written a letter to EU Ministers for Home Affairs and Justice on travel restrictions in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, calling for continued coordination on non-essential travel from third countries. They also reiterated that blanket travel bans, and border closures should be avoided when it comes to travel within the EU. (link)

Commission consults on roadmap for tackling organised crime
The European Commission has published a consultation on its roadmap for the EU Strategy 2021-25 on tackling organised crime. The proposed Strategy would look at addressing the main criminal markets and the corruption and financial aspects of organised crime. It would also include a new strategic approach against trafficking in human beings. The feedback period closes 15 March 2021. (link)

·        Gibraltar: Royal Gibraltar Police warns against increased email fraud during lockdown (link)

·        Iceland: Chief police officer Runólfur Þórhallsson has said police need increased powers to be able to investigate organised crime (link)

·        Norway: Figures reveal there are 188 police officers per 100,000 residents Norway (link)

·        Portugal: Portugal urban police force makes monitoring of observance of COVID measures a priority (link)

·        Sweden: Swedish Police Confederation and the Swedish Police Authority agree that there will be two salary revisions in the agreement period 2020-2023 (link)

 

Other news
FRA carries out first EU-wide survey on experience of crime in general population
The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has carried out the first EU-wide survey of the general population’s experience of crime. The report, titled ‘Crime, safety and victims’ rights’, is aimed at guiding national policymakers as they deliver on their international commitments and the EU’s victims’ rights laws. It complements the EU Strategy on victims’ rights. The report found that more than one in four Europeans were victims of harassment and 22 million were physically attacked in one year, however crime victims typically did not report their experiences. The report thus calls on Member States to better ensure access to justice, offer targeted support to specific groups, support women better and take measures on facilitating crime reporting. (link)

Europol and World Anti-Doping Agency sign MoU
Europol and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to reinforce their cooperation on fighting against the illegal production and distribution of doping substances. The agreement will focus on exchanging knowledge and expertise as well as capacity building. So far, several investigations supported by Europol have uncovered that the use of doping substances to influence the outcome of professional sports competitions is a recurring phenomenon. (link) Europol also held the fourth Working Group on COVID-19 Crime Threats and Law Enforcement Responses last Friday. European chiefs of police from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and INTERPOL joined the virtual meeting to discuss the latest developments in criminality related to COVID-19 and the priorities of the working group. (link)

ENAR publishes open letter to Commission President on Anti-Racism Summit recommendations
The European Network Against Racism, together with over 80 other organisations, have sent an open letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, outlining their recommendations ahead of the EU Anti-Racism Summit on 19 March 2021. The recommendations address sustained and meaningful participation of racialised groups and anti-racist civil society, call for focus on the institutional and structural dimensions of racism in Europe and call for securing public commitments to address structural racism. The open letter calls for concrete steps for accountability and justice when it comes to use of force by law enforcement. (link)

Look Ahead

–        23 February 2021 – FRA holds first meeting of the Victims’ Rights Platform

–        24 February 2021 European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs holds a hearing on the Council’s Europol Deputy Executive Director candidate and discusses the two Europol mandate initiatives in open debate (here)

–        25-26 February 2021 European Council Summit

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