European Commission
European Commission presents new LGBTIQ equality strategy

The European Commission has on Thursday presented its first ever EU strategy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, non-binary, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) equality focused on four pillars for action: fighting discrimination, ensuring safety, protecting the rights of rainbow families and LGBTIQ equality around the world (link). The strategy outlines a number of actions to be carried out in the next 5 years, including both legal and funding measures. The strategy proposes extending the list of EU crimes to cover hate crimes such as homophobic hate speech and will provide funding for tackling violence against LGBTIQ individuals. ETUC has welcomed the publication of the strategy, commenting on the urgent need for the EU and national governments to step up their efforts to improve and enforce legal protection against LGBTIQ discrimination (link).

European Parliament
Commissioner Johansson speak at Plenary debate on Fighting Terrorism

European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson spoke at the European Parliament Plenary debate on fighting terrorism this week, advocating for better information sharing across internal borders. She spoke about the update to the Prüm framework and said she wanted the EU to move away from ad-hoc police cooperation and towards systematic police partnerships. She mentioned that the Commission has started work on an EU police cooperation code and reiterated that she would propose a reinforcement of the Europol mandate within 2020. She noted the publication of the new counter-terrorism agenda on 9 December and said this would identify and close security gaps in law enforcement cooperation when it comes to the use of technology and information sharing. (link)

 

European Parliament Plenary debates purchase and access to COVID vaccine

During the European Parliament Plenary session on Thursday 12 November, MEPs debated transparency in the purchase of and access to the COVID-19 vaccine. In her opening statement, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides said that once a vaccine becomes available all Member States will have equal access to the available doses. She also noted that safety was the Commission’s top priority with the European Medicines Agency ensuring this. On prioritisation the Commission has been working with the ECDC and Member States, however all Member States will do this according to the situation on the ground. Several MEPs also mentioned prioritisation with some calling for work to be done on strategies to identify which parts of the population should be prioritised for the vaccine. A large part of the debate focused on the transparency of the contracts the Commission has signed with pharmaceutical companies. (link)

National updates
·        France: Critics say proposed law to protect police threatens press freedom (link)

·        UK (Scotland): Police sick days soar due to stress and mental health issues (link)

·        Poland: Independence March demonstrators clash with police, wounding several officers (link)

·        Iceland: Icelandic news reports that pressure on police officers has increased significantly during the coronavirus epidemic (link)

·        UK (England): Mayor of London and Metropolitan police to agree on new initiative on race and policing, including 40 % of new recruits coming from BAME backgrounds
Other news
Europol hosts third working group on COVID-19 crime threats and publishes latest reports

On Thursday 12 November, Europol Executive Director, Catherine De Bolle and Vittorio Rizzi, Deputy Director-General of Public Security in Italy co-hosted the third meeting of the Chief of Police working group on COVID-19 crime threats and law enforcement responses. The meeting gathered chiefs of police from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. The working group discussed concerns over scams and fraud related to health products, the increase in online child sexual exploitation material as well as the need to monitor indicators related to the infiltration of organised crime groups into the legal economy. Europol also published its COVID-19 reports on Thursday, looking at the effects of COVID-19 crimes in Europe in 2020. (link)

 

European Ombudsman launches inquiry into abuse of migrants at Croatian border

The European Ombudsman has announced that it is launching an inquiry into the lack of European Commission oversight on the treatment of migrants at the Croatian border, following a complaint from Amnesty International. Amnesty claims that the Commission has failed to address persistent allegations of human rights abuses by Croatian authorities at its border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, despite €300,000 allocated in EU funds since 2018 to set up a monitoring mechanism. Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly said the case would be narrowed to look at this monitoring mechanism, whilst Commissioner Ylva Johansson stated she would be discussing the matter with Croatian counterparts. (link)

 

Council of Europe holds webinar on preventing sexual images and videos self-generated by children

The Council of Europe hosted a webinar this week discussing how to prevent and mitigate risks associated with sexual images and videos self-generated by children. The event discussed how new ICT tools can increase the risk of online sexual exploitation and abuse of children and noted that education was a key element to alerting children to the risks they can face online (link). Meanwhile, the results and key recommendations of the public consultation process of the draft law on Barnahus in Slovenia were also discussed at an event last week. The focus of the draft law is to provide a framework for the establishment and operations of a Slovenian Barnahus, which provides a child-friendly multidisciplinary and interagency response to child sexual abuse (link).

Look ahead
  • 16 November: LIBE Committee Security Dialogue with the Commission on police information exchange and in particular the future developments regarding Prüm and the API Council Directive and recent terrorist attacks and the ways to combat terrorism (link)
  • 18 – 19 November: Europol 4th Global Conference on criminal finances and cryptocurrencies (link)
  • 19 November: CEPOL webinar on Cooperation between police and counselling centres for victims of hate crimes as means to improve recording and encourage reporting (link)
  • 19 November: High-level Conference on Migration and Asylum (link)

 

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