Vol 4 no 3, March 2004  

Contents:

* Response to Madrid bombings
* Irish Presidency & the institutions
* Immigration & asylum
* Policing & criminal law
* Europol
* EU-US cooperation on PNR data
* Key Resources

* PASSWORD REQUIRED
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   MADRID BOMBING / COUNTER-TERRORISM

1. An emergency meeting of the EU's Justice and Home Affairs Ministers Council will be held on Friday 19 March in Brussels (the last emergency meeting was held on 20 September 2001). It will precede the EU Summit (meeting of Prime Ministers) in Brussels on 25-26 March. See Irish Presidency press statement (15.3.04).

2. It is likely to result in an update of the EU Action Plan on Terrorism, the last published version of which is dated 14 November 2002 (13909/1/02).

3. The Belgian Prime Minister, Guy Verhofstadt, has called for the EU to set up a new intelligence centre in the wake of the Madrid bombings. This would, he suggests, play a coordinating role by bringing together member state police, security, intelligence agencies and Europol and by sharing intelligence make an analysis of the terrorist threat. The Netherlands and Austrian governments are said to back the idea (Statewatch News Online).


   IRISH PRESIDENCY & THE INSTITUTIONS
4. EU JHA ministers met on
19 February 2004. The Agendas, background and press release (final version, 5831/04, pdf) are available here.

5.
Human Rights Experts  Opinions and documents relating to the Commission's independent human rights expert group (link). Statewatch made a detailed submission to this group in October 2003, setting out twenty-two areas of concern over EU policy-making, see: Statewatch submission.

6. UK Select Committee on the European Union has produced a report on the future role of the European Court of Justice (pdf)

7. The SEMDOC Legislative observatory has been updated with all policy developments during February 2004.


  
 IMMIGRATION AND ASYLUM POLICY

8. The Presidency has presented two 'compromise' proposals on outstanding issues in the draft EC Asylum procedures Directive. These concern safe third countries (6871/04, 27.2.04, pdf) and the provision of legal advice and assistance: (6797/04, 27.2.04, pdf).

9. Following the adoption at the February JHA Council of the Decision on financing expulsions carried out by one member state on behalf of another (OJ 2004 L 60/55), a guide to the practical implementation of mutual recognition of expulsion decisions has been produced (6142/04, 10.2.04, pdf). Statewatch reported that the EU is already planning joint expulsion flights - although the EU Decision authorising such measures has not yet been adopted. In a highly questionable attempt to make the joint expulsions more acceptable to the public, JHA Commissioner Vittorino has called on member states "to educate their citizens that joint flights have nothing to do with collective expulsion" (see Statewatch news online).

10. The Commission has proposed the
extension of the European Refugee Fund (COM (2004) 102) which has also been used to fund expulsions. The initial European refugee Fund committed 216 million euros to "support and encourage the efforts made by the Member States in receiving and bearing the consequences of receiving refugees and displaced persons". The draft Decision on the European Refugee Fund referred not to "expulsion" but "voluntary repatriation"; the adopted Decision, however, dropped the word "voluntary". According to the European Commission, "returns" accounted for 21 per cent national Fund activities between 2000 and 2002, though "the proportion of repatriation projects has risen sharply", from 15.82% in 2000 to 24.45% in 2002. Without specifying any figures, the Commission has proposed the extension of the European Refugee Fund to 2010, envisaging:

two financial phases: the first from 2005 to 2007, when the amounts allocated would be broadly similar to those in the current phase, but with a slight increase, and a second phase, from 2008 to 2010, when there would a sizeable increase in the allocations, depending on the new financial perspectives. This increase would enable the Fund to become more than just a symbolic gesture and to produce results and have a significant impact not only on the target groups but also on asylum systems in general.

The EU Asylum working party held its first discussion on the refugee fund proposal on 17 February 2004, producing a revised draft of Articles 1-18 of the proposal (6361/04, 20.2.04, pdf).

11. The Commission's proposal on the creation of an EU Border Police (COM(2003) 687, 11.11.03) has been revised following EU working party discussions: latest draft (6226/04, 12.2.04, pdf). Statewatch analysis showed how the Commission's proposal was hiding the development of unaccountable, operational bodies under an ad hoc framework set out in EU Action Plans. A report from the Strategic Committee on Immigration, Frontiers and Asylum on the implementation of the EU Action Plan to combat illegal immigration by sea (15445/03, 28.11.03, adopted by November 2003 JHA Council) shows that the new Sea Borders Centre, Risk Analysis Centre, Centre of Excellence (in Dover) are working with Europol, the immigration liaison officers network and false documents party: implementation report (5769/04, 29.1.04).

12. A Decision on the creation of an EU network of Immigration Liaison Officers was adopted as an A-point by the JHA Council on 19 February 2004 (15813/03, 7.1.04). However, it is clear that a de facto network has been operating for some time. The posting of "immigration liaison officers" (ILOs) has been a central of tenet of EU immigration policy since Maastricht. With the larger member states already using ILOs as part of domestic policy, the EU rationale is that the pool of EU liaison officers could work for the benefit of all the member states. A Joint Action on a common framework for the initiatives of the Member States concerning liaison officers was agreed in October 1996. This was followed by Council conclusions in November 2000 on the "exchange of information and cooperation between the Member States in combating illegal immigration networks" (including the role of ILOs); in May 2001 on "the creation of a network of national immigration liaison officers to help control illegal migration flows through the Western Balkan region"; and in June 2002 the Seville European Council called for the creation of a network of immigration liaison officers before the end of 2002. These initiatives are not mentioned in the adopted Decision.

13. The Council has produced a revised draft of the proposal on the information and coordination network for migration management (the "Iconet" proposal, 6058/04, 9.2.04, pdf). Three issues will be "examined at a later stage": (1) a possible agreement between the Commission and Europol regarding Europol's participation in Iconet (on the basis of the current proposal and its legal basis, Europol would be excluded from participation in the network); (2) "the German delegation suggested that the network could also be used for the exchange of personal data between the national contact points and would submit a more concrete proposal in due time"; (3) the participation of the future Border Agency in the network can be swiftly carried out once the Agency has been established.

14. The Commission has presented its long awaited proposal on the creation of the EU Visa Information System (VIS) (COM (2004) 99). This makes no mention of the detailed functions for VIS already agreed by the Council in the form of conclusions: See Statewatch analysis January 2004 and documentation on SIS, SIS II and VIS.

15. A proposal on subsistence requirements for visa applicants, first made in 2000 but not adopted, has been resurrected (5572/04, 21.1.04). It would amend the EU Common Consular Instructions to require visa applicants to prove that they have between 40 and 60 euros per day for the duration of their stay.

16. The Commission has proposed signature and conclusion of the EC-Albania readmission agreement (COM (2004) 92).

17. The Regulation on financial and technical assistance to third states for immigration, asylum and border controls as adopted by the JHA Council in February (PE-CONS 3968/03, 6.2.04). The budget is 250 million euros for the period from 1 January 2004 to 31 December 2008, of which EUR 120 million is for the period until 31 December 2006, at which point the Commission may propose additional funds.

18. The first annual report on implementation of the ARGO programme 2002-3 has been produced (6485/04, 19.4.04, pdf file). The ARGO programme provides funds for the implementation of EU measures on immigration controls.

19. The EU Working Party on Migration and Expulsion has produced a questionnaire on the EU travel document (6147/04, 10.2.04, pdf). It is the first stage in an evaluation of the usefulness of the EU travel document "with a view to adopting Council conclusions and recommendations on its current and future use".

20. The Strategic Committee on Immigration Frontiers and Asylum has agreed in principle a standard form for refusals at borders ( 16120/03, 12.2.04, pdf). This is to allow the MS to "identify the reasons for a previous decision to refuse the entry of an alien". The standard form "includes a categorisation of the possible reasons for refusal of entry" and provides for an indication "in the passport of the alien concerned the reason or reasons for refusal".


   POLICING AND CRIMINAL LAW

21. The Commission has produced a Communication on crime prevention in the EU (COM (2004) 165). Juvenile, urban and drug-related crime like domestic burglary, theft from vehicles or street robbery figure among the main concerns.

22. A draft EU Decision on combatting cross-border vehicle crime is also on the table (OJ 2004 C 34/18).

23. On 5 March 2004 France became the ninth EU state to implement the European arrest warrant.

24. The Commission's Article 29 Working Party has produced a data protection report on video surveillance (pdf file).

25. A Regulation on the amendment of the Sirene manual was adopted by the February JHA Council (5361/04, 28.1.04).

26. The Commission has proposed the establishment of an EU security research programme to look at creating "smart" biometric documents which will "locate,identify and follow the movement of persons" through "automatic chips with positioning". Statewatch has examined the role of the "List of personalities" in drafting the new security agenda and asks "how much power should they have?"

27. The UK has called for multi-use, interoperable, EU driving licences (Statewatch news online). 


   EUROPOL

Three draft Decisions relating to Europol have also been tabled:

28. One would amend the Europol staff regulations (OJ 2004 C 34/14).

29. The second proposes the "correction" of Europol staff salaries (OJ 2004 C 34/15).

30. A third proposes an increase of Europol staff salaries
(OJ 2004 C 34/16).


  CIVIL LAW

31. The Commission has produced a revised proposal for the European Enforcement Order. The Council has agreed a common position on the revised proposal and the Commission has produced an opinion in response.

32. EC ratification of the Convention on international interests in Mobile equipment has also been proposed (15904/1/02).

33. The Dutch proposal for an amendment to the "Brussels I" Regulation (concerning jurisdiction over employment contracts) has lapsed with the entry into force of the Nice Treaty on 1 February 2004.


  SURVEILLANCE OF MOVEMENT & THE EXCHANGE OF PASSENGER DATA (PNR)

Statewatch continues to report the developments and controversy over the exchange of passenger data with the USA:

34. A draft EP Resolution is highly critical of the Decision by the Commission and Council on access to passenger data (PNR), reserving the right to take the issue to the European Court of Justice.

35. The Article 29 Working Party on data protection has produced a report on transfer of PNR data to Canada (pdf file).

36. The EP rapporteur on PNR has written to national parliaments (text of letter, pdf).

37. A speech by Stefano Rodota, chair of the EU's Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, is also critical of the scheme in its current form (text of speech, pdf).

38. A draft Commission Decision on the adequacy of US "undertakings"  on data protection in the EU-US agreement on PNR was agreed at the General Affairs Council on 16.2.04 (pdf). US "undertakings", 12 January (see pp 7-10, pdf file).

39. The UK Parliamentary Committee has strongly criticised the Commission report.

40. The EU is leading the call for a global agreement on the exchange of passenger data.

41. For full background see: Observatory on exchange of passenger data (PNR) with the USA


42. and: Observatory: EU surveillance of passengers (PNR).


   KEY RESOURCES on the SEMDOC website

a. For all new material added to SEMDOC, see: What's New


b. Observatory on the draft EU Constitution

c. Key Texts, all the primary texts for reference:
Key Texts

d. Justice and Home Affairs acquis: 1993 - ongoing: JHA Acquis

e. Justice and Home Affairs Councils (Agendas, Background Notes, Press Releases and minutes) are added as soon as they become available

f. The main Legislative Observatory is listed on the SEMDOC home page: Legislative Observatory

g. Back issues of this version of the Statewatch European Monitor:

February 2004 (vol 4 no 2)

January 2004 (vol 4 no 1)

December 2003 (vol 3 no 6)


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