European Commission

Commission convenes first ever Schengen Forum
This week the European Commission hosted the first ever Schengen Forum, discussing the theme of building a stronger and more resilient Schengen area. The Forum touched on issues such as enhancing police cooperation and information exchange, exploring measures such as joint patrols, joint investigation teams, cross-border hot pursuits or joint threat analysis to address threats to security. The Forum also discussed issues such as evaluating the implementation of Schengen rules, the revision of the Schengen Borders Code, better management of external borders as well as governance of the Schengen area. The discussions will feed into the Schengen Strategy due to be presented in mid 2021. (link) In her keynote speech at the Forum, Commissioner Johansson highlighted the need for police and security cooperation to become the rule and noted her work on proposals for a police cooperation code. (link) The Commission has also earmarked up to €30 million for the next four years to support Member States in their fight against violent radicalisation. (link)

Commission publishes package of initiatives on digitalisation of justice systems
The European Commission has adopted a package of initiatives on modernising the EU justice system. The two main aspects of the new package are the Communication on the digitalisation of justice in the EU and the new Strategy on European judicial training. The former is aimed at further supporting Member States to move their national justice systems towards the digital era and at improving EU cross-border judicial cooperation between competent authorities. (link)

Commission asks for feedback on roadmap for revising Victim’s Rights Directive
The Commission has opened a consultation on the Roadmap on the Victims’ Rights Directive, closing on 30 December 2020. The consultation looks to evaluate whether the Directive has achieved its objectives, which aim to ensure that victims of crime receive appropriate information, support and protection and can participate in criminal proceedings. (link)

Commission presents COVID winter strategy
The European Commission has presented a strategy for sustainably managing the COVID pandemic over the winter months. The strategy recommends continued vigilance and caution throughout the winter period and into 2021 when the roll out of safe and effective vaccines will occur. After this, the Commission will look to provide further guidance on a gradual and coordinated lifting of containment measures. (link) Meanwhile, Interpol has issued an Orange Notice, warning against potential criminal activity in relation to the falsification, theft and illegal advertising of COVID-19 and flu vaccines. They also noted that coordination between law enforcement and health regulatory bodies will be vital in ensuring the safety and wellbeing of individuals and communities. (link)

Commission presents strategy to strengthen Charter of Fundamental Rights and Democracy Action Plan
The Commission has presented a new strategy on strengthening the Charter of Fundamental Rights, confirming a renewed commitment to ensuring the Charter is applied to its full potential. The Commission will present an annual report next year to look at how Member States apply the Charter in a selected thematic area. (link) The Commission also presented its new European Democracy Action Plan, setting out measures to promote free and fair elections, strengthen media freedom and counter disinformation. (link)


Council Adopts conclusions on the European Arrest Warrant
The Council has this week adopted conclusions on the challenges and way forward for the European Arrest Warrant and extradition procedures. The conclusions agreed that there was scope for improvement across five areas including the national transposition and the practical application of the European arrest warrant framework decision, support for authorities in fundamental rights evaluations, handling requests to extradite EU citizens to third countries and surrender procedures during crisis as well as addressing certain aspects of the procedure in the issuing and in the executing member state. (link)

Council adopts Declaration on fight against antisemitism
The Council has approved a declaration on mainstreaming the fight against antisemitism across policy areas. The declaration calls for continuous dialogue with the Jewish community to ensure appropriate levels of security awareness, specific training for security staff and law enforcement officers and exchange of best practices. It also notes that judicial and law enforcement authorities must be adequately equipped and trained for their action against antisemitic acts, including for criminal investigations and victim support. (link)

Other news

Council of Europe Equality Committee approves a draft resolution on ethnic profiling
The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly’s Equality Committee has approved a draft resolution, calling on European States to pass laws to ban “ethnic profiling” and encourage police forces to take stronger action against racist behaviour. The draft resolution calls on political leaders and police chiefs to condemn ethnic profiling and for records to be kept on “stop and search” operations as well as urging more anti-racism training for police, well-resourced independent complaints mechanisms, and greater implementation of relevant recommendations by the Council of Europe’s anti-racism body. (link)

Europol hosts drugs conference and publishes digital evidence report
Europol has this week hosted the 4th international drugs conference, bringing together delegates from EU and non-EU countries to discussing law enforcement responses to high-risk organised crime such as drug trafficking. Executive Director Catherine De Bolle noted that the fight against drug trafficking is one of the EU’s top crime priorities and a priority of Europol’s strategy 2020+. Europol has also this week published its 2nd Annual Report on EU Digital Evidence. The report outlines the status of EU authorities in retrieving electronic data held by foreign-based online service providers (OSPs) in 2019. (link)

Council of Europe report calls on Albania to implement legal framework to tackle corruption
In a new report, the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) has called on Albania to implement the legal framework to prevent corruption of ministers, their advisers and the police, saying the current framework, while comprehensive, is still too complex. The report highlights the need to improve the capacity of the bodies responsible for preventing corruption and a proactive approach to investigations. It also recommends measures to ensure more stability in senior positions in the police and for ethical rules to be complemented with practical guidance, as well as awareness, training and counselling measures. (link)

Look ahead

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