Vol 4 no 4, April 2004  

Contents:

* Irish Presidency & the institutions
* Counter-terrorism & civil liberties
* Immigration & asylum
* Policing & criminal law
* Europol & Eurojust
* PNR and biometrics
* Key Resources

* PASSWORD REQUIRED
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   IRISH PRESIDENCY & THE INSTITUTIONS
1. EU Justice and Home Affairs ministers met on 30 March 2004. The agenda, background and press release are available here.

2. There was an EU summit (meeting of Prime Ministers) on 25-26 March. It adopted a far-reaching Declaration on terrorism (see below) and agreed that the EU Constitution should be adopted by June 2004. See report on the InterGovernmental Conference from the Irish Presidency: CIG 70 (pdf) and Statewatch's Observatory on the EU Constitution.

3. The EU Security Regulations and secrecy classifications have been amended to incorporate the ten acceding states (5239/1/04, 2.4.04, pdf file). See also Statewatch's Observatory on Freedom of Information in the EU.

4. During March, the European Parliament's Citizens' Freedoms and Rights Committee voted to reject an unprecedented number of proposals on which it has been consulted, including the proposed EU PNR scheme (on the collection and exchange of Passenger Name Record data), the exchange of PNR with the US, the Decision on joint expulsion flights and decided to delay its report into the inclusion of biometric data in EU passports (see below). The EU is likely to ignore the Parliament's will and adopt the measures anyway - possibly prompting legal action over the EU-US PNR treaty. In her report on the expulsion proposal, Adeline Hazan MEP said of the consultation procedure (A5-0091/2004, p.4):

When Parliament delivers an opinion under the consultation procedure as required by Article 67 of the EC Treaty, the consultation exercise is as a rule already a pure formality, but under such circumstances consultation becomes completely superfluous. This being so, Parliament can only conclude that its role is not being taken seriously, which suggests that difficulties are likely to arise if codecision becomes applicable.

It remains to be seen if the recent level of opposition will continue after the EP elections in June and the incorporation of the ten new EU member states. The EP will have new powers of co-decision in the field of immigration and asylum policy after 1 May 2004.

5. The SEMDOC Legislative observatory has been updated with all policy developments during March 2004.


   COUNTER-TERRORISM & CIVIL LIBERTIES
6. Following an emergency meeting of the EU's Justice and Home Affairs Ministers Council on Friday 19 March, the EU Summit in Brussels on 25-26 March adopted a Declaration on combating terrorism (pdf). See Statewatch coverage: "Homeland Security" comes to the EU. Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, commented:

What is quite extraordinary is that the two most intrusive measures in the pipeline - mandatory retention of communications data and the compulsory fingerprinting of nearly everyone in Europe for biometric documents - did not even get into the draconian US Homeland Security package, their citizens were up in arms when these ideas were floated.

7. The Commission also produced an Action Plan on terrorism: Commission Action Plan (18.3.04, pdf).

8. Statewatch's analysis of the Declaration and Action Plan found that 27 out of 57 proposals they include have little or nothing to do with tackling terrorism – they deal with crime in general and surveillance - see: Statewatch Scoreboard (pdf).

9. The first of a raft of new measures, on the exchange of information on terrorism was released by the Commission on 29 March 2004 (COM (2004) 221).

10. On 2 April 2004 the EU issued an updated list of "terrorist organisations and persons".


   IMMIGRATION AND ASYLUM POLICY


11. The EC Directive on definition of a refugee and content of status was agreed by the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 30 March 2004: ((7944/04, 31.3.04, pdf).

12. A coalition of European NGOs is calling for the withdrawal of the draft Directive on asylum procedures. This is the last of the substantive proposals on the common EU asylum policy and must be agreed before 1 May 2004 if the EU is to meet the deadline set by the Amsterdam Treaty.

13. The European Parliament has voted to reject the proposed EU Decision on Joint Expulsion Flights (A5-0091/2004). The JHA Council reached political agreement on the Decision in November 2003.

14. The UK has opted in and Ireland has opted-out of the related EU Decision on financing expulsions from the EC budget.

15. The European Commission has proposed an EC Directive and two recommendations on the legal migration of researchers (COM (2003) 178, 16.3.04).

The following measures have been published in the Official Journal:

16. Regulation on technical and financial assistance to third countries for immigration and asylum: 'AENEAS' programme (published in OJ 2004 L 80/1);

17. Regulation 378/2004 amending Sirene Manual (OJ 2004 L 64/5);

18. Regulation 377/2004 creating Immigration Liaison Officers' network (OJ 2004 L 64/1).

EP reports on the following proposals have been adopted by the Committee on Citizens' Rights and Freedoms:

19. "approved destination status" Treaty with China (A5-0101/2004);

20. EC-Macao readmission agreement (A5-0096/2004);

21. ICONET Proposal on an information and coordination network for Member States' migration management services (A5-0145/2004);

22. short-term residence permits for "victims"of illegal immigration or trafficking in human beings (A5-0099/2004);

23. agency for border management: EU Border Police (A5-0039/2004);

24. local border traffic between member states (A5-0141/2004) and local border traffic after enlargement (A5-0142/2004).


   POLICING AND CRIMINAL LAW


25. The EU Mutual Legal Assistance Convention has now been ratified by Denmark, Portugal, Spain and Finland and is being provisionally applied in Portugal, Spain and Finland.

26. The Commission has produced an implementation report on the Framework Decision on the status of victims (COM (2004) 54, 3 Feb. 2004).

27. The European Court of Justice has ruled on two cases concerning Article 54 ('non bis in idem'/double jeopardy) of the Schengen Convention. Three new cases on Schengen issues are pending. See SEMDOC legislative observatory: Schengen case law.

28. The EP committee has adopted its report on the proposed Framework Decision on the European Evidence Warrant (A5-0214/2004). Statewatch has sent proposed amendments to the Framework Decision to the Parliament.

29. An EU Decision on the amendment of the Sirene manual has been adopted and published in the Official Journal (OJ 2004 L 64/45).

EP reports on the following proposals have been adopted:

30. draft Regulation on access to the Schengen Information System for vehicle registration authorities (A5-0205/2004);

31. joint report on proposed Decisions on legal personality for EU police college and location of its headquarters (A5-0140/2004);

32. joint report on proposed amendment of Europol staff regulations, staff salaries ("correction") and salaries (increase) (A5-0108/2004).

33. reconsultation on draft EU Framework Decision on drugs trafficking (A5-0095/2004):

34. Convention on drug trafficking by sea (A5-0100/2004)
  
 EUROPOL & EUROJUST


35. Statewatch news online reported that Europol analysis files contained 146,183 personal records in December 2003. Heiner Busch of CILIP suggests "If a file reaches the size of a small or medium-sized city, it will hardly prove useful for efficient crime investigation".

36. The EU summit set a new deadlines for ratification of the three Protocols to Europol Convention. Spain is the first country to ratify the third Protocol.

37. The first annual report from Eurojust's Joint Supervisory Body has been published: Eurojust JSB report (pdf file).

38. The Joint Supervisory Body also adopted an Act laying down its rules of procedure: JSB rules of procedure (OJ 2004 C 86/1, pdf file).


  CIVIL LAW

39.
An EU Decision authorising signature and ratification of the Oil pollution Convention was adopted on 2 March 2004 (OJ 2004 L 78/22).

40.
The Commission has proposed the creation of a European payment order (COM (2004) 173, 19 Mar. 2004).

41. Two new cases are pending at the European Court of Justice on civil law matters. See SEMDOC legislative observatory: case law.


  SURVEILLANCE OF MOVEMENT, EXCHANGE OF PASSENGER DATA (PNR) & BIOMETRICS

42. The European Parliament has passed a Resolution rejecting the draft Directive on "the obligation of carriers to communicate passenger data" and calling for it to be withdrawn. The Directive was put forward by the Spanish government last year and was radically altered by the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 30 March. As the much-changed draft Directive is a member state initiative, by Spain, it has to be formally adopted by 1 May or it falls under the Amsterdam Treaty provisions. See Statewatch Observatory: EU surveillance of passengers (PNR).

43. The European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee has voted to go to the European Court of Justice to challenge Commission finding of "adequacy" on the proposed EU-US deal on transferring passenger data to the USA. The Committee voted in favour by 16 votes to 12 with no abstentions. The PSE (Socialist), Green/EFA, GUE (United Left), ELDR (Liberals) and Radical groups voted in favour. The PPE (Conservatives) voted against. See: Statewatch's Observatory on the exchange of data on passengers (PNR) with USA. See: Statewatch's Observatory on the exchange of data on passengers with USA.

44. This followed a vote by the EP's Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights on 6.4.04 to reject the proposed formal agreement, proposed by the European Commission, for the passing of passenger data (PNR) to the USA. The report by rapporteur, Mme Boogerd-Quaak was adopted: Full-text of report The Commission proposal, draft agreement with the USA: Full-text (pdf). The PSE (Socialist), Green/EFA, GUE (United Left), ELDR (Liberal) and Radical groups voted in favour - the PPE (Conservative group) voted against. On the same day the parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee voted narrowly to reject an opinion drafted by its President, Mr Brok, proposing acceptance of the international agreement with the USA on PNR.

45. The European Parliament has now rejected both the proposals on passenger name records (PNR) - the EU-PNR plan and the EU-USA plan for access to passenger details. Following yesterday's vote on the latter the Chair of the Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights has written to the European Commission informing them formally of the parliament's views: Letter (French - pdf)

46. The Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights also decided to delay its report on the European Commission's proposal for EU biometric passports until the autumn. The rapporteur, Ole Sørensen MEP (ELDR) said that:

"The European Parliament is not in a position to endorse the proposals… as long as the commission does not put its cards on the table and fully inform us of its strategy. We need proper democratic scrutiny of this far-reaching legislation, which in the worst case scenario could represent a step towards systematic registration of EU citizens' personal data."

47. Civil rights groups have warned of grave dangers in an international biometric passport system with files and biometric Identifiers on more than a billion passengers to be computerised and shared globally by 2015: Letter to the ICAO and documentation.


   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:

March 2004 (vol 4 no 3)

February 2004 (vol 4 no 2)

January 2004 (vol 4 no 1)

December 2003 (vol 3 no 6)

 


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