European Commission
UK and EU agree Trade and Cooperation Agreement
The UK and EU reached an agreement on a Trade and Cooperation Agreement on 24 December 2020, securing a tariff-free, quota-free trading relationship. The Agreement establishes a new framework for law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters and includes arrangements for timely, effective, efficient and reciprocal exchanges of air passenger data, criminal records information and Prüm data. The Agreement also looks to enable effective cooperation between the UK and Europol and Eurojust, in line with rules for third countries established in EU legislation. Ratification for the agreement in the European Parliament is foreseen for the March plenary session, until which time the agreement will apply provisionally. (link)

EU approves two COVID-19 vaccines for use
On 21 December 2020, the EU approved the first COVID-19 vaccine for use. (link) The first to achieve authorisation was the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, followed by approval for the Moderna vaccine on 6 January 2021. (link) The first vaccinations across the Union began on 27 December 2020. On 8 January 2021, the Commission proposed to Member States the purchase of an additional 200 million doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer, with the option to acquire another 100 million doses. This would enable the EU to purchase up to 600 million doses of the vaccine in total. (link)

Council

Portuguese take over the Presidency of the Council
From 1 January 2021, Portugal has taken over the Presidency of the Council of the EU. The three core priorities of the Presidency are to promote Europe’s recovery, leveraged by the climate and digital transitions, to implement the Social Pillar of the European Union and to strengthen Europe’s strategic autonomy. On police and judicial cooperation, the Presidency wants to see the implementation of the 2020-25 EU Strategy on Victims’ Rights and the revision of the Europol Regulation. (link)

Council approves EU drugs strategy for 2021-2025
On 18 December 2020, the Council approved the EU drug policy for the period 2021-25, aiming to ensure a high level of health promotion, social stability and security, as well as to contribute to awareness raising. The Council will prepare an action plan on the basis of the strategy. The strategy looks at all aspects of the illicit drug market, and includes the prevention of, dissuasion from, and disruption of drug related crime, in particular organised crime, through judicial and law enforcement cooperation, intelligence, interdiction, confiscation of criminal assets, investigations and border management. (link) The Council and the European Parliament have also reached provisional agreement on the justice programme, setting out funding in this area of €305 million for the period 2021-2027. (link)

·        Belgium: Justice Minister sets out stricter procedure for violence against police in interview (link)

·        Gibraltar: Bullying at Work’ training programme approved for Royal Gibraltar Police officers (link)

·        Greece: Police hand out 1001 fines for violations of COVID health measures on New Year’s Day (link)

·        Ireland: Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors calls for review of priority vaccinations for blue light workers (link)

·        Slovakia: Higher level collective agreements signed between the Ministry of the Interior and Police Trade Union in the Slovak Republic (link)

·        Spain: Police union criticises “poor forecasting” leading to officers having to share clothing during COVID pandemic (link)

·        Sweden: Government set to invest 329 million in next four years into research on crime, segregation and safe societies (link)

·        UK: Civil Nuclear Police Federation calls on Government to ensure police officers have a place in queue for COVID vaccine (link)

Other news
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights calls for amendments for French General Security Bill
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović has written to the Chair and members of the Law Committee of the French Senate to call for substantial amendments to the General Security Bill to make it more human rights compliant. Mijatović invites senators to remove the provision imposed in Article 24 banning the dissemination images of the faces of law enforcement officers engaged in police operations. She argues the ban is an infringement of the right to freedom of expression which she claims in this case to be unjustified. (link)

Interpol publishes report on the impact of COVID-19 on global terrorism
Interpol has published a report on the impact of COVID-19 on global terrorism, trends and potential risks related to attacks on vulnerable targets and bioterrorism. The report looks at five threat factors including COVID-19 outbreak characteristics and medical advances, global or national response. social climate, resilience of the security apparatus as well as strategies and capabilities of terrorists and other non-state actors (NSAs). It also sets out recommendations and early-warning signs for the global law enforcement community. (link)

Europol and Eurojust sign new contribution agreement to expand cooperation on Sirius Project
Europol and Eurojust have signed a new contribution agreement expanding their partnership in supporting law enforcement and judicial authorities with cross-border access to electronic evidence. The new agreement also foresees exchange of best practices and training for EU practitioners on applicable rules in the US related to the mutual legal agreement procedure as well as expanding the geographical focus of SIRIUS to develop collaboration on existing initiatives and projects with selected non-EU countries. This new agreement, in place from January 2021 to June 2024, begins the second phase of development and enhancement of the SIRIUS project. (link)

Eurostat undertaking pilot project on European Occupational Diseases Statistics
Eurostat has launched an experimental project looking at European Occupational Diseases Statistics (EODS) in order to assess the efficiency of legislation in safety and health at work at the European level. The data is currently being collected at national level by various organisations to be centralised by Eurostat. (link)
Look Ahead
– 12 January: Exchange of views with the Commission on the issue of vaccines in the EU in a meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. (here)

 

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