European Commission
Commission publishes review of the effectiveness of Member State justice systems, the Justice Scoreboard

On Thursday 8 July the Commission published the 2021 EU Justice Scoreboard, an annual assessment of the effectiveness, fairness and independence of justice systems in all European Member States. In 2021 the study focused on how justice is being digitalized, i.e. how the COVID-19 pandemic forced European justice systems to become modernised and operate digitally due to social distancing restrictions. Overall, the results found that almost all justice systems operate effectively digitally in a secure manner, though regarding the use of artificial intelligence technology being applied in justice, Member States use this to varying degrees and there is room for improvement here. Also, a concerning finding is that – while in two-thirds of Member States public perception of judicial independence has improved since 2016 compared to last year, the public’s perception of independence has decreased in about two-fifths of all Member States. In response to the findings, Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency Vera Jourová emphasised “What worries me is that in some countries the perception of independence of the judiciary further decreased during the pandemic. Politicians should resist temptation to use the pandemic as an excuse to pressure independent judges.”  (link)

 

EU Summer Economic Forecast predicts faster recovery than previously expected

According to the newly released Summer 2021 interim Economic Forecast, the EU and euro area economy is set to expand by 4.8% this year and 4.5% in 2022. This means the growth rate for 2021 under the new forecast is higher in the EU (+0.6%) and in the euro area (+0.5%) while for 2022, both areas are predicted to recover at a 0.1% higher rate. This means real GDP in both the EU and euro area will likely return to pre-pandemic levels in the fourth quarter of 2021. According to the Commission, growth has been strengthened by an effective containment of the COVID-19 virus across the continent, and also a rapidly progressing vaccination campaign which has allowed EU economies to reopen quicker than previously predicted, which has particularly yielded benefits in the services sector. It has also benefitted the intra-EU tourism industry, which will improve further with the introduction of the EU Digital COVID Certificate as of last week – 1 July. Finally, the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (the more than €800 billion EU recovery fund) will help to drive growth further. (link)

Country News:

·        Cyprus: Cypriot Police carried out 2,932 checks during on Monday and on Tuesday for violations against covid-19 rules. In total, 35 citizens and one establishment owner were fined. (link)

·        Germany: On Tuesday, German police arrested hundreds after infiltrating encrypted chat data on users. The police seized almost 3.2 tons of cannabis and over 800 kg of other drugs. (link)

·        Italy: Italian police have broken up a number of online schemes offering to sell fake EU Digital COVID Certificates. The Prosecutor’s office in Milan reported that many were willing to pay for the document. (link)

·        Luxembourg: Sixteen Luxembourgish police recruits tested positive for COVID-19 and the newly inaugurated School for Police officer in Luxembourg has asked some 140 students to self-isolate at home. (link)

·        Malta: The Malta Police Union has called on competent authorities to act in relation to high temperatures inside police stations. For them, such conditions are in breach of EU law. (link)

·        Netherlands: Peter De Vries, a famous Dutch crime reporter was shot and seriously wounded on a street in Amsterdam. An alleged shooter was arrested shortly after. Police are investigating. (link)

·        Portugal: The Maritime Police in Portugal has broken up a party with some 800 teenagers aged between 16 and 18 in Albufeira. No arrests were made. (link)

·        Spain: Spanish and Portuguese authorities along with Europol dismantled an organization dealing with fraudulent manufacture and sale of tobacco between Spain and Portugal. (link)

·        Sweden: A 17-year-old man has been arrested for shooting a police officer in the city of Gothenburg. The police officer died later that day according to the investigation. (link)

Other news
Nine out of ten hate crimes go unreported according to EU report

Every year, millions of European citizens experience hate crimes due to racism, intolerance and harassment due to their skin colour, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or disability. Yet according to a new report by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) up to nine out of every ten hate crimes which occur in the EU are not reported by the victims. This has seriously harmful consequences, the FRA says, because “Hate crimes that are not reported cannot be investigated or prosecuted, resulting in impunity and emboldening perpetrators.” Moreover, the FRA found minority groups experience twice as much violence against them than the general population. “For example, whereas overall 9% of all respondents had experienced physical violence in the five years before the survey, the proportion is higher for those who belong to an ethnic minority (22%), for those who self-identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, or identify themselves in other terms (19%), and for those who are severely limited in their usual activities due to a disability or a health problem (17%),” the report reads. Among its recommendations, the report argues for enabling anonymous and third-party reporting across the board, and providing active guidance and training to EU police forces, as well as establishing specialized hate-crime units. (link)

The Police Service of Northern Ireland is working with Israeli Security Institutions

The PSNI, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, has partnered with Israeli security institutions – specifically the Israeli Ministry of Public Security – to jointly pioneer tools for crime prediction and prevention, law enforcement research, and personal surveillance. The work is being carried out under the EU’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme. Two key projects, CREST and CONNEXIONS, are being developed to improve crime prediction and prevention via mass data analysis and artificial intelligence, using social media, surveillance technology, and monitoring of internet traffic. (link)

Look Ahead :

–       12 July: CEPOL is organising a Webinar entitled “Joint Investigation teams: focus on third country cooperation”. The aim of the webinar is to present the concept of Joint Investigation Teams and related supporting tools. Registration is mandatory and more information can be found here.

–       12 July: The European Parliament LIBE and FEMM committees are holding a joint meeting to debate gender-based violence as a new area of crime listed in Article 83(1) TFEU. The agenda of the meeting can be found here.

–       14-16 July: Informal meeting of Justice and Home Affairs ministers. Ministers will address the Digital Agenda from the perspective of law enforcement and comprehensive migration and border management. The meeting is organised by the Slovenian presidency.

–       15 July: CEPOL is organising a Webinar entitled “Community policing – engaging with religious communities.” The scope of the webinar is to promote organisational strategies that encourages partnership with stakeholders in religious communities.” The target audience comprises law enforcement officers working in the field, criminal investigators and first responders. Registration is mandatory and more information can be found here.

 

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