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A meeting of the Schengen Council, put in place under the French Presidency to improve governance of the Schengen area, is taking place today. A note from the Swedish Presidency of the Council outlines areas requiring “additional focus and impetus” if progress is to be made in the 2023/24 ‘Schengen Cycle’.
Ahead of the upcoming meeting of the European Commission's Contact Group on Search and Rescue on 16 June, the German authorities have issued a response to the Commission's draft roadmap that was published by Statewatch last month. The response is published here.
The Council is hoping to approve its negotiating positions on the Asylum and Migration Management Regulation (AMMR), Asylum Procedure Regulation (APR) and Single Permit Directive on legal migration at the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting tomorrow. The texts, published here, were circulated in the Council yesterday (AMMR and APR) and at the end of May (Single Permit Directive).
EU border agency Frontex aided the deportation of almost 25,000 people from EU territory in 2022, a record high. The number of people removed via scheduled flights and “voluntary” return proceedings has been increasing steadily, and the deployment of Frontex return teams supported the removal of almost 4,000 people over the course of the year. The agency has confirmed that deportations remain a “core priority”.
Interpol must do more to prevent the Turkish government misusing its databases to target political dissidents abroad, says an open letter to the organisation's secretary-general signed by more than 25 individuals and organisations, including Statewatch. The letter calls for Turkey to be suspended from using Interpol databases - in particular, the Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) system - until the problem is dealt with.
A "Draft Roadmap towards a 'European Framework for Operational Cooperation on Search and Rescue in the Mediterranean Sea'," obtained by Statewatch and published here, indicates that the European Commission is aiming for "standardisation/convergence of registration and certification rules on private vessels carrying out SAR [search and rescue] as their predominant activity." This could be used to hinder the activities of search and rescue organisations.
The EU's proposed Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) Regulation is perfectly legal, the European Commission has argued, in response to the Council Legal Service's arguments that the "detection orders" set out in the proposal would be illegal.
EU border agency Frontex has recently sought to take on a more prominent role in deportations, and has been testing the possibility of organising the "initiative, destination, date," amongst other tasks - roles previously reserved for national authorities.
Agreement within the Council on the European Media Freedom Act (EMFA) is "very close", according to a recent document circulated by the Swedish Presidency - but provisions on the "exceptional" use of spyware against journalists are still the subject of discussions.
Council documents detailing the state of play with the Asylum Procedure Regulation (including comments from the member states), the Asylum and Migration Management Regulation, and a Presidency discussion paper on the "balance between solidarity and responsibility".
The development of a new watchlist for “identifying connections” between people seeking authorization to travel to the EU and terrorist or criminal suspects is “progressing well”, according to a Europol report obtained by Statewatch.
Proposed data-sharing deals between Europol and five states in Central and South America needs explicit safeguards if they are to uphold fundamental rights, the European Data Protection Supervisor said at the beginning of May. Police forces in those states have brutal records of violence and torture.
With the European Parliament and Council of the EU heading for secret trilogue negotiations on the Artificial Intelligence Act, an open letter signed by 61 organisations - including Statewatch - calls on the Spanish Presidency of the Council to make amendments to the proposal that will ensure the protection of fundamental rights.
On 4 May 2023, the European Court of Human Rights delivered three rulings concerning the confinement of families with children in administrative detention centres (CRA). These rulings concern seven children, aged between seven months and thirteen years, who were locked up in 2020 and 2021 at the Mesnil-Amelot and Metz detention centres.
The Council of the EU wants to simplify the detention of families and children for the purposes of processing asylum applications at the borders.
Alongside 174 other organisations, we condemn the Illegal Migration Bill and call on all parliamentarians to reject it. The Bill faces its second reading in the House of Lords today.
Discussions are ongoing on the Pact, with member states debating how to deal with the European Parliament's position on Eurodac and discussions ongoing within the Council on the Asylum and Migration Management Regulation. Documents published here provide an insight into the issues under discussion.
A forthcoming EU law will seek to prevent the use of "strategic lawsuits against public participation" (SLAPPs) to harass, intimidate and silence NGOs, journalists and critical voices. The European Commission describes SLAPPs as "a particularly harmful form of harassment and intimidation used against those involved in protecting the public interest." The latest Council compromise version of the Directive removes the right for those subjected to a SLAPP to receive compensation.
In the aftermath of the heavy repression of activists protesting against the construction of industrial water storage basins in France on 25 March, two protesters are still in critical condition in hospital. Meanwhile, interior minister Gérald Darmanin announced heavy measures to be taken against the organisers of the mass demonstration in Sainte-Soline and even threatened to take steps against a renowned human rights organisation.
The Swedish authorities are aiming to increase collaboration on deportation through rapid police deployments in targeted countries for assignments "lasting from a few days up to three months."
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