European Commission
Commission proposes to ease restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU
The Commission has issued a proposal for Member States to ease current restrictions on entry into the EU – specifically, to allow non-essential travellers to enter the EU coming from countries with a good epidemiological situation. The Commission also proposes that Member States allow all people who have received the last recommended dose of an EU-authorised vaccine to enter the bloc. In addition, the Commission proposes to increase, according to the changing epidemiological situation in the EU, the threshold related to the number of new COVID-19 cases used to determine a list of countries from which all travel should be permitted. However, in light of the continuing development of dangerous COVID-19 variants, the Commission has also proposed to install a new “emergency brake” mechanism, to allow Member States to act quickly and temporarily limit travel “to a strict minimum” from any variant-affected countries. Now, the Commission’s proposal will move to the Council, for a first discussion at technical level in the Council’s integrated political crisis response (IPCR) meeting taking place on 4 May, followed by a discussion at the meeting of EU Ambassadors (Coreper) on 5 May. (link)

Commission says the UK should not be allowed to join the Lugano Convention
The Commission has said that the United Kingdom should not be permitted to join the Lugano Convention in a non-binding recommendation, in a potentially significant blow to EU-UK judicial cooperation. The Lugano Convention is an international legal cooperation agreement which establishes which countries’ courts have jurisdiction over cross-border civil and commercial disputes. At a closed-door meeting of EU diplomats on Monday 3rd May, the Commission reportedly stressed that the UK’s application to join the Convention should be blocked on the basis that the post-Brexit UK is neither part of the European Economic Area (EEA) nor European Free Trade Association (EFTA). The Commission’s recommendation, further, stresses that the Convention should be reserved for non-EU third countries with strong regulatory alignment with the EU, including being aligned with key parts of the EU acquis Communautaire. It also states that the Convention is “a flanking measure of the internal market” and “the consistent policy of the European Union is to promote cooperation within the framework of the multilateral Hague Conventions … the United Kingdom is a third country without a special link to the Internal Market.” The final decision on the UK’s application will rest with the European Council, but the Commission’s decision is expected to be impactful on this. (link)

·        Germany: German police have closed down one of the largest child abuse websites in the world, with over 400,000 subscribers, a platform called “Boystown.” (link)

·        Netherlands and Poland: Dutch and Polish police have dismantled a massive illegal tobacco factory in a joint operation coordinated by Europol, arresting 30 people, seizing 94 tonnes of tobacco and 5.4 million counterfeit cigarettes. Europol said the tax loss resulting from the illegal factory equated to over 243,000 Euros per day per factory. (link)

·        Spain: Spanish police and customs officers have arrested 17 people and seized half a tonne of saffron, after a two-year investigation targeting a gang involved in illegally importing the spice from Iran, bulking it out and selling it en masse. (link)

·        Sweden: The Swedish Police Confederation National chief safety representative announced he was lifting a suspension on a new type of active hearing protection equipment. Unlike passive ear protectors, active ear protectors use microelectronics to reduce decibels from the outer acoustic environment. (link)

·        UK: UK police data has revealed electric scooters are being extensively used to carry out crimes, including assaults, burglaries and anti-social behaviour. (link)

Other news
Norwegian Police Association launches “Speak confidently, thank you for speaking out” campaign
The Norwegian Police Association has launched an anti-harassment and harassment awareness campaign, called “Speak confidently, thank you for speaking out.” The campaign was launched at a webinar led by Rikke Hallgren, chair of the Gender Equality and Diversity Committee in the Norwegian Police Association. The launch had been largely motivated by a recent survey amongst Norwegian police officers which found that 6.6% of police officers in Norway had been exposed to some kind of sexual harassment in the past year. Nasim Mehr, diversity adviser at the Oslo police district, stated during the webinar that “if we are to bring about change, we must talk about it and create awareness about how we should behave.” The Norwegian Police Association’s leader, Sigve Bolstad, added that the Association plays a key role in fighting sexual harassment in the policing field because, as a trade union, it should lead by example with a “constructive climate of expression … with a healthy and orderly trade union culture.” (link)

French police officer shot dead in the city of Avignon during a drug raid
French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced Wednesday that a French police officer had been shot dead during a drugs raid, in which several other officers had been shot. A team of plainclothes officers sent to investigate a suspected drug deal were carrying out identity checks on a group of people when one of them opened fire, a police source told AFP. At time of writing, the suspect was still at large, having fled the scene on a moped. (link)

Look Ahead

–        10 May: LIBE Committee Meeting. On the agenda: exchange of views on the Activities of the Frontex Scrutiny Working Group; framework for the interoperability of the Digital Green Certificate (COVID-19 travel certificate); protection of personal data by the United Kingdom; and establishing an exchange, assistance and training programme for the protection of the Euro against counterfeiting for the period 2021-2027 (the ‘Pericles IV programme’). The LIBE Committee is also voting on the Annual Report on the Functioning of the Schengen Area.

–        10 May: The Coordinating Committee in the area of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters (CATS) is meeting to discuss, among other issues, the Cumulative prosecutions of Foreign Terrorism Fighters for war crimes and terrorism, the Digital Services Act and its justice aspects, the EPPO. More on the agenda can be found here.

–        10-11 May: Ministerial Conference on the management of migration flows organised by the Portuguese Presidency of the Council. Commissioner Ylva Johansson will take part in the conference. The conference is aimed at deepening political dialogue with African partners under the framework of migration and mobility.

–        13 May: CEPOL event entitled “Webinar 2/2021: OSINT tools for cyber-investigations”. The aim of the event is to improve performance of law 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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