European Commission
Commission releases European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan and proposal on pay transparency
The European Commission has this week published the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, outlining the concrete actions needed to further implement the principles of the Pillar of Social Rights. The Action Plan sets out employment, skills and social protection headline targets for 2030. (link) The Commission is also seeking feedback on the EU action plan for social economy until 26 April 2021. (link) The Commission has also presented a proposal this week on pay transparency to ensure equal pay for equal work in the EU. Measures within the proposal include pay information for job seekers, a right to know the pay levels for workers doing the same work, as well as gender pay gap reporting obligations for big companies. There will also be stronger tools for workers to claim their rights and facilitation of access to justice. (link)

Commission presents Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030
The Commission has this week presented its Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030, setting out ways to ensure full participation in society, on an equal basis with others in the EU and beyond. The strategy sets out initiatives under three main themes: EU rights, independent living and autonomy and non-discrimination and equal opportunities. Within the Strategy, the Commission has said it will provide by 2024 guidance to Member States and practitioners, including police officers, on improving support for victims of violence who are persons with disabilities. (link)

UK extends ‘grace periods’ on certain products moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland
This week, the UK Government has decided to unilaterally extend the ‘grace periods’ on certain products moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. The EU responded to the announcement with strong concern, stating that the action amounts to a violation of the relevant substantive provisions of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland and the good faith obligation under the Withdrawal Agreement. (link) In response, the European Parliament has also postponed setting a date for ratifying the agreement with the UK, expected at the end of this month. This could now be delayed until late April. (link)

Commission consults on 2021-2025 action plan to fight migrant smuggling
The Commission has opened a consultation on its roadmap for developing the 2021-2025 action plan to fight migrant smuggling. The action plan is part of the EU’s New Pact on Migration and Asylum and will focus on intra-EU cooperation and exchange of information; emerging counter-smuggling phenomena; and more targeted cooperation with countries of origin and transit. The feedback period closes on 29 March 2021. (link)

·        Czech Republic: Independent Trade Union of the Police of the Czech Republic discusses vaccination of police officers (link)

·        Denmark and Norway: Danish and Norwegian Police Associations push for full identity protection of officers (link)

·        Greece: Police to be issued new devices to allow for real-time facial recognition and fingerprint identification as part of Smart Policing initiative (link)

·        Sweden: The Police Confederation, together with Swedish Police Authority, agrees to sign the instructor and supervisor agreement (link)

Other news
Frontex internal report highlights need for new culture

A new internal report from Frontex, to be presented to the agency’s board this Friday, reportedly notes the “deficiencies” suffered by the organisation and highlights the need for a new “culture”. The report recognises that “the reporting system should be combined with a newly introduced culture, in which failure is acknowledged and addressed, in order to create awareness of and sensitiveness towards possible misconduct.” (link) The European Parliament Frontex Scrutiny Working Group (FSWG) met on Thursday with the agency’s Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri and Commissioner Ylva Johansson. (link)

FRA Management Board publishes opinion on future agency work areas
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights Management Board has published an opinion on future agency work areas. The Board is in favour of revising the current founding regulation, as proposed by the European Commission in June 2020. The opinion calls for continuity while pointing to a need to adapt the framework to legal and political developments over the last five years. The Board suggested a rewording of thematic areas to take into account these developments as well as adding two new areas, looking at social inclusion and protection, employment and sustainable development. (link)

Look Ahead

–        8 March: European Parliament plenary session holds International Women’s Day Celebration

–        8 March: Mr Nicolas Schmit holds a videoconference call with representatives of the European Trade Union Confederation

–        11 March: Ms Ylva Johansson in Madrid, Spain: gives a keynote address at the 17th European Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Terrorism (here)

–        11 March: Meeting of EU justice ministers to discuss retention of electronic data, fundamental EU rights and the setting up of the European Public Prosecutor (here)

–        12 March: Meeting of EU home affairs ministers to discuss the resilience of critical public entities, external aspects of migration, the migration and asylum pact and EU-North Africa cooperation. (here)

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