European Commission
Commission unveils plan to uphold child rights and support vulnerable children across the globe
The Commission adopted the first EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child this week. Firstly, the strategy aims to enable full participation of children in civic and democratic life, through producing child-friendly legal texts and increasing involvement of children in consultation processes. The strategy also includes a proposal to create a European Child Guarantee, to ensure every child in Europe has the most basic of rights, including healthcare and education, and to combat child poverty and social exclusion. The strategy also envisages legislation to prevent gender-based and domestic violence against children. Further, to enhance child access to justice, the Commission will cooperate with the Council of Europe to implement the 2010 Guidelines on Child-Friendly Justice. To ensure children can safely navigate the digital world, the Commission will also update the European Strategy for a Better Internet for Children and the proposed Digital Services Act. Finally, to safeguard child rights worldwide, the Commission will prepare a Youth Action Plan by 2022 to strengthen child protections within EU delegations. (link)Commission seeks to allay concerns regarding Europol’s new decryption platform
Commission officials have stressed to MEPs that Europol’s new decryption platform, launched in December 2020, will not be used to breach data protection rules or undermine fundamental rights. The platform, which was developed by Europol in close coordination with the Commission’s Joint Research Centre, aims to increase Europol’s ability to decrypt data lawfully obtained during criminal investigations by enabling them to decrypt access codes to smartphones, tablets, PCs and laptops. But at a meeting of the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee, some MEPs voiced concerns that the platform had not been adequately scrutinised in terms of data protection protocols, and questioned whether third-party contractors had been involved in the platform’s development. In response, the Commission’s Deputy Director-General at DG HOME, Olivier Onidi, stated “There’s absolutely no room for abuse through this platform and penetrations into equipment belonging to individuals who are not under the context of a judicial charge.” (link)
·       Belgium: Belgian police officers in Ghent were attacked with glass and beer crates whilst trying to close down parties in the Sint-Pietersplein student neighbourhood of the city. (link)

·       Czech Republic: Czech police have been closing down strings of large illegal gatherings at bars and restaurants across Prague. (link)

·       Estonia: Estonia is planning to issue digital vaccination certificates in April, according to the country’s undersecretary for E-Health, Kalle Killar. (link)

·       Kosovo: Kosovo’s police have carried out a second successful operation against two organised crime groups operating a forged document and migrant smuggling syndicate. (link)

·       Luxembourg: A pilot scheme in Luxembourg City to catch drivers running red lights and exceeding speed limits has caught at least 10,000 offences in only four months. (link)


Other news
ETUC resolution targets 2021 as the Year for More Democracy at Work
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) plans to make 2021 the year of More Democracy at Work, to put the voice of workers at the centre of decision-making processes in businesses, and enhance trade union and worker rights across the board. Today, almost three out of four EU citizens believe more action should be taken at EU level to promote “decent” working conditions in the continent. ETUC therefore aims to elevate More Democracy at Work as a priority on the EU institutional and recovery agenda. Key target aims for ETUC include pushing for the revision of the European Works Councils Recast Directive, which is the legal basis for the consultation bodies representing EU workers in multinational companies. ETUC is also pushing for a new horizontal framework on information, consultation and board-level participation of workers in companies operating in Europe. ETUC is planning advocacy campaigns directed at the Commission, European Parliament, Council and national governments, and events and actions will be announced on the ETUC website. (link)UK House of Lords committee issues warning about UK police’s loss of access to a key EU database
In a report published 26 March, the EU Security and Justice Sub-Committee of the UK’s House of Lords has warned that UK police forces could face difficulties after losing access to the Schengen Information System (SIS II), which provides real-time data on wanted and missing persons. SIS II is described by the EU Commission as “the most widely used and largest information sharing system for security and border management in Europe,” and the report notes that it has played a vital role in supporting UK policing in recent years. For instance, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Richard Martin, of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, had informed the Sub-Committee that in 2019 UK police checked SIS II “603 million times.” The issue is that while the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) brokered at the end of 2020 provides for some EU-UK data sharing, such as passenger name record data and fingerprints, DNA and criminal records, the deal does not make it legally possible for the UK, as a non-Schengen, non-EU country, to maintain access to the SIS II. In the meantime, UK police have used the Interpol I-24/7 database, but this requires EU countries to upload the same data as to SIS II – and the UK Government has not yet made clear how this will be ensured. (link)
 Look Ahead

–          29 March: Council Working Party on Cooperation in Criminal Matters (COPEN) meets to assess developments as regards EU rules on the protection of personal data.

–          29 March: Portuguese Presidency High-Level Conference on “The contribution of the social economy to job creation and the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights.”

–          30 March: Commissioner Dalli delivers an opening speech at the European Parliament Disability Intergroup event: Setting in motion the European Disability Rights Strategy.

–          30 March: Portuguese Presidency High Level Conference on “Protecting Vulnerable Adults across Europe – the way forward” – Commissioner Reynders to give keynote address.

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