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European Council wants industry to develop automated censorship tools and "address the challenge" of encryption
- Draft conclusions for 22-23 June meeting also back multi-billion euro military research programme
- Migration: "Training and equipping the Libyan Coast Guard is a key component of the EU approach and should be speeded up"
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At its meeting on 22 and 23 June the European Council - made up of the heads of state and government of the EU Member States - is set to adopt conclusion that will call on "industry to develop new technology and tools to improve the automatic detection and removal of content that incites to violence," and to deal with "the challenges posed by systems that allow terrorists to communicate in ways that competent authorities cannot access, including end-to-end encryption" (emphasis added).

See: European Council (22 and 23 June 2017) - Draft conclusions (8799/17, LIMITE, 19 June 2017, pdf)

These statements are preceded by a paragraph condemning recent terrorist attacks and declaring a new will:

"to cooperate at EU level so as to enhance our internal security: we will fight the spread of radicalisation online, coordinate our work on preventing and countering violent extremism and addressing the ideology, thwart the financing of terrorism, facilitate swift and targeted exchanges of information between law enforcement authorities and improve the interoperability between databases."

However: European MEPs want to ban states from backdooring encryption (Tech Crunch, link):

"The European parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) has put forward a proposal that would amend the EU’s charter of fundamental rights to extend privacy rights to the digital realm and prevent governments of EU Member States from backdooring end-to-end encrypted services."

Boosting the arms industry

The draft conclusions also express support for the European Commission's recently-proposed European Defence Fund, which is set to offer billions of euros to the arms industry for research projects and the development and acquisition of new technologies: "Member States may for example jointly invest in developing drone technology or satellite communication, or bulk buy helicopters to reduce costs," in the Commission's words.

According to the draft conclusions:

"The European Council reiterates its commitment to strengthening EU cooperation on external security and defence so as to protect the Union and its citizens and contribute to peace and stability in its neighbourhood and beyond."

See: European Commission proposals (pdfs, 7 June 2017):

See: petition: EU: Don't invest in weapons (, link):

"Halt the inclusion of arms industry research into the new EU budget. No EU money should go to military technology. Research money should go to projects developing nonviolent ways of preventing and resolving conflicts, and in particular tackling root-causes of instability."


The draft conclusions also cover migration:

"The European Council remains committed to the Union's comprehensive approach to migration, including effective control of external borders to stem illegal flows and the reform of the Common European Asylum System, and to the full and non-discriminatory implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement in all its aspects. Vigilance on all migration routes will continue. We will continue to strengthen and make full use of the operational capacities of the European Border and Coast Guard and other agencies."

And, amongst other things (emphasis added):

"Loss of life and continuing migratory flows of primarily economic migrants on the Central Mediterranean route is a structural challenge and remains an issue of serious concern. The EU and its Member States will have to step up coordination and delivery on all the elements contained in the Malta Declaration, the Partnership Framework and the Joint Valletta Action Plan, underpinned by adequate financial resources. Strengthening regional cooperation in Search and Rescue activities is a high priority. Training and equipping the Libyan Coast Guard is a key component of the EU approach and should be speeded up."

Some of the dangers of this commitment to training and equipping the Libyan Coast Guard were highlighted recently in a UN report on Libya. See: UN report on Libya: serious abuses against migrants, "concerns" over vetting of coastguard members trained by EU (Statewatch News Online, 14 June 2017)

See: European Council (22 and 23 June 2017) - Draft conclusions (8799/17, LIMITE, 19 June 2017, pdf)

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