Statewatch News online: EU: Irish Presidency statement on JHA Council 19 March 2003

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EU: Irish Presidency statement on JHA Council 19 March 2003

The Irish Presidency statement on the special meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council in Brussels (JHA) on 19 March 2004 adds a bit more detail to the original JHA press release:

1. Mr Solana, Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union (the 15 EU governments) and High Representative of defence and foreign policy, is to report "within 180 days" (six months) on integrating the "intelligence capacity" within the Council's General Secretariat (for example, second and third pillar working parties and expertise from policing with that of border control).

2. A new "Counter Terrorism Coordinator" is to be appointed in the Council.

3. The new measure to introduce the mandatory retention of communications data by service providers and procedures for the exchange of this data between agencies in different member states to be adopted by December 2004. See: leaked draft Framework Decision on mandatory data retention EU-wide: Statewatch: Special Report which contains: Full-text, report and analysis (pdf) - the Danish Presidency denied the existence of any plans: Report

4. The European Border Management Agency proposal to be adopted by May 2004.

5. "document security" (visas, resident third-country nationals, EU passports and ID cards to carry biometric data and be held on a European database on SIS II) to me maximised. Other reports says that the deadline for the mandatory taking of fingerprints for EU passports has been advanced by a year to 2005.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"Mr McDowell argues that: "Our purpose is to demonstrate that the terrorist will not succeed in overturning the hard-won liberties that illuminate all the nations of the Union". That is a matter of opinion, certainly the wholesale retention of data on all phone-calls, mobile phone-calls, e-mails, faxes and internet usage and the fingerprinting of almost everyone in the EU will fundamentally undermine our "hard-won liberties".

Were it being proposed that these new forms of surveillance should only be used to combat terrorism there could be little objection. But that is not what is being planned, the data will be used for crime in general and potentially for social and political control. The proposed wholesale surveillance of the daily activities of everyone in the EU is authoritarian and has no place in a democracy."

See also:

1. EU: Emergency Justice and Home Affairs Council - press release, 19.3.04: Report and press release
2. Homeland Security comes to the EU: European Commission publishes Action Plan on terrorism (and crime): Report and documentation

Irish Presidency statement:
EU unites in the fight against Terrorism - McDowell
Date: 19 Mar 2004

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Mr Michael McDowell, T.D., today expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the extraordinary meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting which was held as a result of the recent terrorist attack in Madrid.

Minister McDowell announced that the Council has agreed a draft Declaration on Combating Terrorism incorporating a number of measures that the Minister believes will result in a strong manifesto for a renewed attack on all aspects of the terrorist threat to Europe.

The Council focused on the following:

" reinforcing operational cooperation through a renewed commitment to the optimum use of bodies such as Europol, Eurojust and the Police Chiefs' Task Force as well as other measures directed to preventing terrorist groups having access to instruments of their trade;

" improving arrangements for the sharing of intelligence including tasking SG/HR Solana with reporting, within 180 days, on how an intelligence capacity might be integrated within the Council Secretariat, with a view to informing EU policy;

" emphasising implementation of existing legal instruments which can contribute to the fight against terrorism, in any event no later than June 2004;

" undertaking to take forward work quickly on new instruments of relevance including establishing rules on the retention of communications traffic data by service providers and exchanging information on convictions for terrorist offences with a view to adoption of these by December 2004;

" maximising the effectiveness of information systems and strengthening border controls and document security, with work to be taken forward on the proposal for a regulation establishing a European Borders Agency with a view to adoption by May 2004;

" speedy adoption of the Council Directive on compensation to crime victims; improving our capacity to prevent the financing of terrorism;

" strategic guidelines for a revised EU Plan of Action to Combat Terrorism;

" new institutional arrangements by way of the proposal for the appointment of a Counter Terrorism Coordinator and new possibilities for ensuring operational cooperation;

" examining measures in the area of transportation security and in terms of the external relations field.

" implementation of the European Security Strategy;

" the immediate implementation of the solidarity clause as envisaged by Article 42 of the draft Constitution for Europe.

Speaking after the meeting the Minister said, "Our thoughts, first and foremost, must be with the bereaved, whose loved ones were so callously murdered, and the many hundreds of innocent victims who have been injured in what was a calculated, blatant and heinous attack on our democratic way of life".

McDowell said that the measures contained in the draft Declaration, by necessity, fall to be implemented across the institutions of the Union and by Member States themselves. They will now be considered by Foreign Affairs Ministers next Monday and Tuesday, before going before the Heads of State and Government.

"We stand in solidarity with the people of Madrid, the people of Spain, and the peoples of Europe in the fight against terrorism. Our purpose is to demonstrate that the terrorist will not succeed in overturning the hard-won liberties that illumine all the nations of the Union - and which make us masters of our own destinies and the envy of the world. The measures agreed at today's meeting underline our determination", he concluded.
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