EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (26 news stories and commentaries 28-30.12.15)
GCHQ-NSA: NSA Helped British Spies Find Security Holes In Juniper Firewalls (The Intercep, link):
"A TOP-SECRET document dated February 2011 reveals that British spy agency GCHQ, with the knowledge and apparent cooperation of the NSA, acquired the capability to covertly exploit security vulnerabilities in 13 different models of firewalls made by Juniper Networks, a leading provider of networking and Internet security gear."
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (9 news stories,and big development 25-27.12.15)
Lesvos, Greece: International Rescue Committee: A warm, safe welcome for refugees landing on Lesbos (link) says: "The International Rescue Committee is preparing to open a reception center in northern Lesbos, often the first stop for thousands of exhausted refugees seeking safety in Europe. Built along the island’s coast, the site – “Windy Ridge” – is just steps from the beach where thousands of refugees from warring countries arrived this year. " [emphasis added]
This is not the view of local civil society volunteers who have been helping refugees the whole year long in Lesvos and who question the building of a camp in "a valley in the middle of nowhere": See: Eric Kempson (link)
and Eric Kempson - Again (link): It is alleged that employees of the International Rescue Committee are telling civil society volunteers - who have been working for months welcoming refugees as they arrive in the EU - to "get off the beach" because they are now in charge.
Peter Sutherland: Special representative to the United Nations secretary general for migration: Selfishness on refugees has brought EU ‘to its knees’ - ‘Paralysis and ambivalence’ threatening Europe’s future (Irish Times, link):
"Mr Sutherland accused some heads of government of “stoking up prejudice” by speaking of barring Muslim migrants and said the absence of EU agreement on a refugee-sharing scheme meant a Europe of internal borders was increasingly likely to become a reality across the continent.
“This is a tragedy. Tension between member states is inevitably going to grow because of the great differences among them in their attitudes towards refugees,” he said.
“It is hardly surprising that Germans, who will take about a million refugees this year, and who have promised to take 500,000 annually for the next few years, should be outraged by, for example, the United Kingdom’s paltry offer of 20,000 places over five years - and this by a country that has only resettled 252 Syrian refugees since the conflict began.”"
EU: Frontex Return flights up to 22.12.15 (Statewatch document, pdf)
- Since September 2015, 683 people have been deported in joint Frontex flights from 18 Member States. This consisted of 16 flights to six destinations: Albania, Armenia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Kosovo and Georgia.
- According to the total number of people returned by Member State, Germany and Italy ranked highest for returning the most between September and December 2015. This is followed by Greece, Austria and Spain.
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20 news stories,key developments and documents 24.12.15)
GREECE: State to try and take over civil society's humanitarian work which has been in place for months and months helping hundreds of thousands of refugees - when International and EU agencies have been conspicuous by their absence: Refugee NGOs on islands to be coordinated (ekathimerini.com, link): "A special committee will be formed under the General Secretariat for the Aegean to coordinate dozens of nongovernmental organizations on the Greek islands receiving the biggest inflows of refugees and migrants, Kathimerini has learned."
The months of inaction by the EU is summed up in this Cartoon (thanks to No Borders, pdf)
and see: In eastern Europe, volunteers step up for refugees (DW, link): "Volunteers connected through social media have come to the aid of people seeking asylum in eastern Europe, where governments have failed. Peter Georgiev reports from Sofia.... Quickly volunteers came together in an informal Facebook group, called "Friends of the refugees," to provide the support asylum-seekers needed. Journalist Maria Cheresheva was one of the initiators. Along with colleagues, she had taken to the streets of Sofia to collect donations for migrants. Hundreds of volunteers formed a chain to contribute food, water, clothing and other supplies, which were later transported to the refugee camp in Pastrogor."
and Susan Sarandon welcomes refugees in Lesbos (apokoronasnews.gr, link): "Sarandon told ANA-MPA, a Greek news agency, that she will assist volunteers and non-governmental organizations in welcoming the refugees to the island. “The international community must see what is happening in this corner of the world,” she told ANA-MPA. “It must realize the size of the problem and understand it. These people should stop being ‘somebody else’ and must become the refugees that we must stand by.”
Greece: Refugee Crisis: Lesvos is Filling Up With Migrants; Frontex Staff on Holiday (Greek Reporter, link):
Today hundreds of North African immigrants in Lesvos are being registered. In the middle of last week it was decided that immigrants such as these should not be granted the monthly permit which allows them to stay in Greece until their departure.
Thousands of migrants and refugees are arriving on the islands of the northern Aegean from the Asia Minor coasts, specifically Turkey. Up until this morning the hotspot in Moria recorded around 3,000 people while other migrants were found in many places around the center waiting to be registered. About 1,000 Syrians have been temporarily sent to the camp of Kara Tepe having been given a note that specifies that they will be registered on Christmas.
The situation at the recording and certification sites in Moria is very difficult because a great majority of Frontex’s staff has left for Christmas holidays." [emphasis added]
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21 news stories, documents and commentaries, 22-23.12.15)
UK: UNDERCOVER POLICING: Undercovers arrested in 2005; Mark Kennedy in Northern Ireland; call for extension of Pitchford inquiry to Scotland; Bob lambert resigns
Undercovers arrested in 2005: Names of undercover police revealed, this scandal is worse than we thought (EXCLUSIVE: The Canary, link):
"Two undercover police officers were arrested in Scotland whilst posing as protesters during the G8 summit protests in 2005. The officers, who were part of the notorious Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) which infiltrated protest and social justice movements between 1968 and 2008, were among at least 5 undercover officers who went to Scotland to infiltrate the demonstrations."
Call for extension of inquiry to Scotland: Push to extend inquiry into police infiltration of campaigners to Scotland (The Guardian, link): "The Scottish government is pressing for a public inquiry into the undercover infiltration of political campaign groups to be broadened to examine covert operations in Scotland.
The Home Secretary, Theresa May, commissioned the judge-led inquiry but limited its remit to scrutinising operations in England and Wales." And see: Scotland Asks to Join Inquiry (Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance, link)
Mark Kennedy in Northern Ireland: Undercover officer Mark Kennedy 'monitored NI groups' (BBC News, link): "One of the undercover officers for whom Scotland Yard apologised for tricking women into sexual relationships carried out surveillance in Northern Ireland, say environmental campaigners."
Bob Lambert resigns from St Andrews and London Metropolitan University: Former undercover police officer Bob Lambert quits St Andrews University teaching post over outcry (Herald Scotland, link): " An academic at a leading Scottish university, exposed as a former undercover police officer who had sex with his female targets, has quit his post.
Bob Lambert, who also fathered a child with a woman he was spying on, has left St Andrews University and another higher education body amid an outcry about his past. "
TURKEY: There is an Imminent Threat of Massacre in Cizre, Silopi, Sur, Nusaybin and Dargeçit. Dou You Hear Us? (ihd.org.tr, link):
"Since the early morning hours of 21 December 2015, the commanders of Turkish Army have announced that, the inhabitants must leave from their home otherwise the authorities could not admit the responsibility. Similarly, in Sur, Nusaybin and Dargeçit, the Kurdish people are forced to evacuate. At this time, people are experiencing very dramatic developments which are unlawful."
"Exclusive The "Big Brother" comprehensive national database system feared by many MPs has been built behind their backs over the last decade, and even has a name for its most intrusive component: a central London national phone and internet tapping centre called PRESTON.
PRESTON, which collects about four million intercepted phone calls a year, has also recently been used to plant malware on iPhones, according to disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The phones were then targetted for MI5 "implants" (malware), authorised by a ministerial warrant."
News Digest: Round-up of news stories from across the EU (19 items, 23.12.15)
Council of Europe: Helping refugees in the Mediterranean: Greek association “Agkalia” awarded Raoul Wallenberg Prize (pdf):
"The jury of the Council of Europe Raoul Wallenberg Prize has awarded the 2016 Prize to Agkalia, a Greek association on the island of Lesvos, for outstanding achievements in providing frontline assistance to thousands of refugees irrespective of their origin and religion.
As Lesvos has become a European gateway for refugees, Agkalia has been providing temporary shelter, food, water and medical aid to people in need, assisting some 17,000 refugees and migrants since May 2015. Through its work to assist refugees, Agkalia also promotes tolerance and human rights"
- US Department of Homeland Security wants to introduce the scheme
- It's a worldwide proposal, including including Heathrow and Manchester
- Policy makers hope it will reduce the risk of IS terrorists flying to America
See also: UK may allow US security checks on passengers before transatlantic travel (Guardian , link) and Working Party on Frontiers/Mixed Committee
(EU-Iceland/Liechtenstein/Norway/Switzerland) Subject: Summary of discussions (LIMITE doc no:12034-14.pdf): which includes at Point 5:
"Information provided by the NL delegation regarding the request of the US to introduce a border preclearance facility at the Schiphol airport."
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (35 news stories, documents and commentaries, 21.12.15)
London: What do police know about Jermaine Baker’s killing that we don’t? (by Stafford Scott, Guardian, link): "An officer has been arrested in an unprecedented move. Transparency has improved, but too many in this part of London have been killed by police – answers must come swiftly"
Migration: Global Report on Journalism's Biggest Test in 2015: Press release (link):
"An international report on media and the global migration and refugee crisis, issued today to coincide with International Migrants Day (December 18), says journalists often fail to tell the full story and routinely fall into propaganda traps laid by politicians.
The report, Moving Stories, is published by the Ethical Journalism Network and reviews media coverage of migration in the European Union and in 14 countries across the globe.
“Around the world media coverage is often politically led with journalists following an agenda dominated by loose language and talk of invasion and swarms,” said Aidan White, EJN Director. “But at other moments the story is laced with humanity, empathy and a focus on the suffering of those involved.”
From the Ethical Journalism Network: Full report (link) includes: The View from Brussels: Missed opportunities to call the European Union to account by Tony Bunyan. Bulgaria - A study in media Sensationalism by Rossen Bossev and Maria Cheresehva, Italy - A charter for tolerant journalism: Media take centre stage in the Mediterranean drama by Yasha Maccanico and United Kingdom - How journalism plays follow-my-leader in the rhetoric of negativity by Zak Suffee.
"The situation which Calais has experienced for nearly 20 years (the Sangatte camp “closed” in 2002 had opened in 1999) is symptomatic of the policies which the European Union has been advocating with blind persistence: hence, the planned “hotspots” and “processing centres” will unfailingly translate, if they are effectively implemented, into the creation of immense detention centres in Italy and in Greece, but also in Niger and Turkey. «Encampment», as far away as possible from the glances of civil societies, is the final objective of the European Union’s migration policies: by relentlessly sorting migrants, it thus goes so far as to violate the most basic human rights and to cause the death of numerous third-country nationals.
The Migreurop network deems it important to solemnly reaffirm that respect for rights and human dignity requires the cessation of all forms of detention and ghettoisation of the people exercising their right to leave their countries. Necessary steps towards dignified reception conditions, in the Calais region and beyond, include repealing the Dublin Regulation and any form of border controls (like those promoted by the Le Touquet treaty) introduced for the purpose of transforming them into enclosures, rather than legal and protected points of passage."
Red Cross EU: Migration to the EU: a perilous and difficult journey (Press release, link) and Recommendations from the National Red Cross Societies in the European Union and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (pdf)
"This position paper proposes concrete steps that can be taken by the EU and its Member States to reduce risks along migratory routes and address some of the increasing vulnerabilities stemming from these perils. Some of the key dangers faced by migrants along migratory routes to Europe are analysed in the Red Cross EU Office (RCEU) publication Perilous journeys(2). These include: limited access to rights and services; arbitrary arrests and detention; violence and human trafficking; family separation and the loss of family links; as well as increasingly dangerous journeys to reach and cross the EU’s external borders."
Yesterday I met a guy that broke my heart to pieces.[Facebook, link] He had to sell his kidney to make this trip to safety and upon arriving on the shore of Greece he has no money to continue onwards. Imagine having to sell your kidney to find safety. It's 2015, Why is this happening? Why are WE allowing this to happen in OUR lifetime?
This is the man who came to cook for refugees and now even has his own visa run out and has to leave, he is heartbroken like so many of us..
Dead and missing migrants en route to Greek islands 2015 (iomgmdac.org, link): "The map shows the estimated number of migrants who have died or gone missing en route to the Greek islands between Jan - Nov 2015. Click on an island to show historic data specific to that route. Click again to deselect it and show the year to date total for the Aegean Sea."
IOM: EU Migrant, Refugee Arrivals by Land and Sea Approach One Million in 2015 (link): 956,456 arrivals in the EU this year: 801,919 to greece, 150,317 to Italy. 3,695 dead/missing (18 December 2015)
UPDATE: EUROSUR Handbook: EU: European Commission: EUROSUR: ANNEX to the COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION adopting the Practical Handbook for implementing and managing the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR Handbook) (pdf):60 pages attached to Recommendation below
COMMISSION RECOMMENDATION of 15.12.2015 adopting the Practical handbook for implementing and managing the European Border Surveillance System (EUROSUR Handbook) (C-9206-15, pdf): This says: "Member States should transmit the EUROSUR Handbook, annexed to this Recommendation, to their authorities responsible for the surveillance of the external land and sea borders which shall use it as the main tool when implementing Regulation (EU) No 1052/2013."
Eurosur is a surveillance system with drones etc to stop "illegal" migration, See: EU seeks autonomous drones, "data fusion" and "enhanced command and control centres" for border control (Statewatch News Online, November 2015)
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23 news stories, documents and commentaries, 17-19.12.15)
Suspend EU-Turkey Action Plan: Turkey: EU risks complicity in violations as refugees and asylum-seekers locked up and deported (AI, link):
"Amnesty International is calling on Turkey to end unlawful detentions and deportations. The EU and Turkey should establish effective independent monitoring mechanisms to review human rights compliance of the EU-Turkey Action Plan and the use of EU funds for migration-related detention purposes. Until these measures are in place, implementation of the Action Plan should be suspended."
Eighteen migrants drown after boat sinks off Turkey's southwestern coast (.ekathimerini.com, link): "Eighteen people died and 14 were rescued late on Friday after a boat carrying migrants trying to sail to Greece sank off the southern Turkish town of Bodrum, Dogan News Agency reported. Fishermen hearing the migrants’ screams of migrants alerted the Turkish coast guard, who picked up the bodies from the sea after the wooden boat carrying migrants from Iraq, Pakistan and Syria capsized about 3.5 km off the coast."
"When a ruling party consolidates control, it’s legitimate cause for anxiety. This is what’s happening right now in Poland, where the one-month-old government is taking steps to override democratic practices.
The elections on November 16 swept the national conservative Law and Justice Party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc, or PiS) into power with an absolute majority. It’s the first time since 1989 that one party has held a majority in the parliament. The president—who also holds legislative powers—is a PiS affiliate as well."
The Secret Surveillance Catalogue (The Intercept, link):
"Concerned about the militarization of law enforcement, a source within the intelligence community has provided The Intercept with a secret, internal U.S. government catalogue of dozens of cellphone surveillance devices used by the military and by intelligence agencies. Some of the devices are already in use by federal law enforcement and local police forces domestically, and civil liberties advocates believe others will eventually find their way into use inside the U.S. This product catalogue provides rare insight into the current spy capabilities of local law enforcement and offers a preview of the future of mass surveillance of mobile communications."
EU: DATA PROTECTION DIRECTIVE LEAs: Council of the European Union: FINAL MULTI-COLUMN: Directive on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by competent authorities for the purposes of prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or the execution of criminal penalties, and the free movement of such data (pdf) and Consolidated text: DP: LEAs (pdf)
EU: Council of the European Union: NEW DATA PROTECTION REGULATION: Full-text: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (General Data Protection Regulation) [first reading] - Analysis of the final compromise text with a view to agreement (LIMITE doc no: 15039-15,pdf):
"Taking into account the overall balance of this compromise text, the Presidency invites the Permanent Representatives Committee to analyse the compromise text resulting from the final trilogue with a view to agreement."
and DIRECTIVE on LEAs exchanging personal data - so-called "free movement": Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by competent authorities for the purposes of prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or the execution of criminal penalties, and the free movement of such data - Analysis of the final compromise text with a view to agreement (LIMITE doc no: 15174-15, pdf)
"With a view to enabling the adoption of the political agreement on draft the Directive, the Presidency invites the Permanent Representatives Committee to analyse the compromise text resulting from the final trilogue, as it appears in the Annex, with a view to agreement."
See: European Parliament: Data protection package: Parliament and Council now close to a deal (pdf)
"Today, as the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) published his Opinion on Intrusive surveillance technology, he said he was issuing an alert about the risks posed by the unregulated growing market for the selling, distribution and (dual) use of spyware.
Giovanni Buttarelli, EDPS, said: “As the unregulated market for the trading and use of covert monitoring technology continues to grow, the EU must not underestimate the appetite for such technology. By addressing weaknesses in existing legislation and policies as well as developing new legislation, the EU legislator can help protect against the very real threat posed to our privacy and data protection rights. The sale of these privacy-invasive dual-use tools and the offer of related services also needs to be more tightly regulated in the EU to prevent human rights abuses in Europe and further afield.""
And see: The Growth Industry Helping Governments Hack Terrorists, Criminals—and Political Opponents (link): "Government agencies and oppressive regimes are snapping up software that makes it easy to hack your phone or computer. These new powers could make us all less safe."
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (39 news stories and lots of documents, 15.12.15)
EU: European Council: European Council (17 and 18 Decembre 2015) - Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 13596-15, dated 14 December 2015, pdf): compare section on "Migration" with earlier: European Council (17 and 18 December 2015) - Draft conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 13593-15, dated 7 December 2015, pdf). Latest version says:
"For the Schengen acquis to be preserved it is indispensable to regain control over the external borders. Deficiencies, notably as regards hotspots, relocation and
returns, must be rapidly addressed.The EU institutions and the Member States must urgently:"
Comment: the following eight points are all about preserving Schengen by excluding, controlling and returning refugees.
They include opening:
- more "hotspots"
- "ensure systematic identification, registration and fingerprinting, and take measures to tackle refusal of registration and stem irregular secondary flows",
- "ensure the actual return of people not authorised to stay and provide support to Member States as regards return operations"
- "ensure implementation" of "returns and readmission" following the Valletta Summit (some hope of this...)
- to "rapidly examine" the Commission's 15 December proposals (there are two different lists in the two documents)
A conference at Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum bringing together academics, practitioners and activists to examine the different narratives around seeking asylum in the UK from different perspectives. The conference will take place on FRIDAY, 8 January 2016 from 9.45 am to 5pm at the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum (NNRF), The Sycamore Centre, 33a Hungerhill Road, Nottingham NG3 4NB.
There will be two Keynote speakers: Aidan White, Director of the Ethical Journalism Network, and Dr Helen O’Nions, Nottingham Law Centre (NTU), together with four workshops on asylum issues: Legal, Mental Health, Destitution, and Unaccompanied Asylum Seeker Children, plus a concluding panel.
News Digest: Round-up of news stories from across the EU (9 items, 15.12.15)
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17 news stories and documents, 14.12.15)
SPECIAL: EU: Council of the European Union: European Parliament's Right of inquiry: "profoundly problematic" say Council
- Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament on the detailed provisions governing the exercise of the European Parliament's right of inquiry replacing the Decision of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission of 19 April 1995 (95/167/EC, Euratom, ECSC) - Approval of a letter (15173-15, pdf):
"the Council set out many of the issues it considers to be profoundly problematic with regard to the EP proposal. The Council is unanimous in its view that these issues are indeed of such gravity that they fall outside the scope of any negotiation." [emphasis added]
The Council is referring to a Letter, dated 30 November 2015 from Ms Danuta Hubner, Chair of the AFCO (Committee on Constitutional Affairs in the European Parliament): Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament on the detailed provisions governing the exercise of the European Parliament's right of inquiry replacing the Decision of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission of 19 April 1995 (95/167/EC, Euratom, ECSC) (LIMITE doc no: 14802-15, pdf): Extraordinarily the Council has classified the Letter as "LIMITE", meaning that it is not publicly accessible:
"Delegations will find attached a letter dated 30 November 2015 from Ms Danuta HÜBNER, Chair of the AFCO Committee in the European Parliament, addressed to Mr Nicolas SCHMIT, Minister of Labour Employment and the Social and Solidarity Economy, President in Office of the Council...."
This document contains the "Second Working Document" dated 17.11.15 which in turns refers to an earlier Working Document dated 9.1.15 (pdf).
The Committee's Working Documents are based on ensuring that the Martin report (dated 14.10.11, pdf) from the AFCO and its Adoption: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament on the detailed provisions governing the exercise of the European Parliament's right of inquiry and repealing Decision 95/167/EC, Euratom, ECSC of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission (dated: 23 May 2012) The mandate to get the agreement of the Council and the Commission for a Regulation is in: European Parliament legislative resolution of 16 April 2014.
This initiative to increase the scrutiny powers of the parliament run contrary to the direction on the "deal" done by the Presidents of the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament to introduce so-called "better lawmaking": Proposal for an Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Regulation - Political agreement (LIMITE doc no: 15007-15, pdf):
EU: Council of the European Union: :Smart Borders, C-T database access, and SOCTA methodology
- Smart Borders Package: Wrap-up of discussions (LIMITE doc no: 15024-15, pdf):
"The Presidency suggests that the Working Party on Frontiers invites the Commission to take duly into account the outcome of the pilot-project and the progress achieved on the access for law enforcement purposes to the EES, the consequences of the abolition of stamping, fall-back procedures and the organizational aspects of the RTP application process, in view of the ongoing preparations of the new legislative proposals concerning Smart Borders."
See: The consequences of the abolition of stamping (LIMITE doc no: 12527-15, pdf): 85 pages with detailed responses by 18 Member States and: See: EU: Smart borders: European Commission and Member States at odds over digitising passport stamps (Statewatch News Online, July 2015)
Also Study: How Smart Is “Smart Security”? Exploring Data Subjectivity and Resistance (pdf):
"Smart security does not necessarily contribute to a higher security level at airports. More fundamentally, the need for more security cannot just be stated but has to be discussed within the civil society. Risk-based passenger screenings are working through differentiation which inherently contains either positive or negative discrimination. Data-driven predictions must not be seen as objective knowledge but as results of a probabilistic process."
- Use of Schengen Information System (SIS) and INTERPOL Databases by EU MS to Counter Terrorism - Request for information (LIMITE doc no: 13059-15,pdf): Questionnaire:
"Member States are asked that full use is "made of the existing Schengen framework to reinforce and modernise external borders' control". The European Council agreed to proceed "without delay to systematic and coordinated checks on individuals enjoying the right of free movement against databases relevant to the fight against terrorism based on common risk indicators".
- Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment 2017 - Revised methodology (LIMITE doc no: 14913-15,pdf) See Annex from Europol.
EU: Council of the European Union: Better law-making "deal" and Programme of Trio of Council Presidencies
- Law making "deal" between leaders of the Council, Commission and the European Parliament: Proposal for an Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Regulation - Political agreement (LIMITE doc no: 15007-15, pdf):
"In the interinstitutional negotiations, the European Parliament has been represented by Mr Guy VERHOFSTADT (ALDE, BE), the Council by Minister Nicolas SCHMIT and the Commission by First Vice-President Frans TIMMERMANS... The agreement will be submitted to the Council for formal adoption following legal linguistic revision by the three institutions' experts. It will be signed after the completion of the internal procedures of each of the three institutions concerned."
- Trio of Council Presidencies: The future Netherlands, Slovak and Maltese Presidencies: Taking forward the Strategic Agenda - 18 month programme of the Council (1 January 2016 - 30 June 2017) (Doc no: 15258-15.pdf) For Justice and Home Affairs see pages: 17-20: Including:
* Evaluation of and possible amendments to the Dublin Regulation
* work on an EU relocation mechanism
* Further efforts to enhance resettlement opportunities
* Proposals for strengthening the role of the European Asylum Support Office
* Effectiveness of the Schengen area
* Proposal to amend the Asylum Procedure Directive (Directive 2013/32/EU) to strengthen Safe Country of Origin provisions
* Work related to irregular immigration, including return and readmission
* Migration Action Plan with Turkey
* Reinforcement of Frontex, including discussions over the development of a European Border and Coast Guard System
News Digest: Round-up of news stories from across the EU (9 items, 14.12.15)
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21 news stories and documents, 12-13.12.15)
EU: Council of the European Union: Smart Borders or carry on "stamping documents"?: The consequences of the abolition of stamping (LIMITE doc no: 12527-15, pdf): 85 pages with detailed responses by 18 Member States.
"At the meeting of this Working Party on 10 September 2015, the Presidency presented a new set of questions focusing on three issues that needed to be further examined. These three issues are the possible inclusion of holders of residence permits in the EES, the possible recording of the refusals of entry in the EES and the carrying out of the checks within the territory of a Member State after the abolition of stamping....
In the light of positions expressed by a large majority of delegations, the Presidency invites the Commission to further explore legal ways for allowing the inclusion of the residence permit holders in the EES or to propose alternative solutions which would be capable of addressing the concerns expressed by the Member States in their replies .Concerning the possible inclusion of the refusals of entry, a large majority of delegations are in favour. Therefore, the Presidency invites the Commission to give further consideration to this possibility in the preparation of the future legislative proposals..."
and: Response from Bulgaria (pdf)
See: EU: Smart borders: European Commission and Member States at odds over digitising passport stamps (Statewatch News Online, July 2015): "The EU wants to replace ink-on-paper passport stamps with a digital alternative as part of its plans for an Entry/Exit System supposed to detect visa "overstayers". Member States are not convinced by the idea."
EU: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on procedural safeguards for children suspected or accused in criminal proceedings - Preparation of discussions in Coreper (LIMITE doc.no: 14888-15, pdf): 53 pages:
"the Presidency intends sending this text to the meeting of Coreper on 10 December. Coreper will be invited to agree to submitting this text as an overall compromise text to the European Parliament in view of the 9th trilogue on 15 December 2015 (Strasbourg)".
IOM: (link): 924,147 arrivals in EU: 771,508 to Greece and 148,419 to Italy. 3,671 dead/missing.
Banksy uses Steve Jobs artwork to highlight refugee crisis (Guardian, link): "Graffiti on wall of ‘the Jungle’ camp in Calais depicts late Apple founder’s background as son of Syrian migrant"
EU: G6 Justice and Home Affairs Minister: Joint Statement after the G6 meeting with Interior Ministers in London (Statement 10 December 2015, pdf)
"continue and enhance cooperation within Europe and with the US on important initiatives, includingpassenger name records - welcoming political agreement on an EU Passenger Name RecordsDirective and the EU/US “Umbrella” agreement on data protection and privacy - as well as terroristfinance and further agreements to ensure effective data sharing in the interests of public security andprotection; and enhance the security of the external border of the EU."
The G6 states: Formally, the group is made up of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Poland and the UK. They arealso joined by representatives of the US.
See: 2014 meeting: G6 meeting leads to renewed calls for travel surveillance (Statewatch)
EU High Representative: Letter to Minister for Foreign Affairs (pdf):
"Dear Colleagues, Ahead of our discussion at the Foreign Affairs Council on 14 December, I want to report on the work already done to set in place a coherent and effective EU external action to counter-terrorism (CT), and to suggest some priorities for further common engagement."
As usual there is the involvement of EU Justice and Home Affairs agencies acting externally in an operational capacity:
"the internal/external nexus: strengthening operational cooperation between the EU Member States and partner countries, mobilising more the JHA agencies (CEPOL, EUROPOL, FRONTEX, EUROJUST), including by posting of liaison officers/magistrates, and JHA tools, supporting the work of INTERPOL in the region to increase connectivity and the feeding and use of INTERPOL databases."
US visa crackdown 'a step too far' (aljazeera.com, link):
"US politicians vote to change visa waiver for people with links to certain countries.... On Tuesday, politicians voted to stop anyone who has visited Syria, Iraq, Iran or Sudan during the past five years - or nationals of those countries - from travelling to the US under a visa-free scheme that is available to many Europeans, even for dual citizens who also live in a non-effected country...
the US plans to introduce visa requirements for ANYONE who is from or has visited Syria, Iraq, Iran or Sudan in the last five years. "Under the new rules, visa-waiver scheme members would have to share counterterror information with the US. All visitors would be checked against Interpol databases, and members would have to issue "e-passports" with biometric data. David O'Sullivan, the European Union ambassador to Washington, said new rules on biometric passports would be "cumbersome" and warned that many Europeans would lose the right to visa-free travel.""
UK: The shadowy programme which allows migrants to be deported on suspicion alone (politics.co.uk, link): "Broadly speaking Nexus cases can be split into two categories. The first part of the operation is focused on the removal of people who are not entitled to be in the UK. There will, of course be straightforward scenarios where somebody has entered the country illegally and once identified by the operation is removed. But it has also been reported that some people are being removed simply for 'not exercising their treaty right to work or be self sufficient.'"
Behind Metadata (link): "Series of case studies, interviews and tools that explore the far reaches of metadata in its capacity to protect, investigate and expose abuses of power".
EU-USA: JUDICIAL REDRESS BILL: Senate Judiciary delays data privacy bill (thehill.com):
"The Senate Judiciary Committee has pushed consideration of a privacy rights bill that is pivotal to a pair of information-sharing agreements between the United States and the European Union. The legislation would give European citizens the right to take legal action in the U.S. if their personal information is misused. Its passage is a prerequisite to an “umbrella agreement” inked this fall that allows the two governments to exchange more information during terrorist and criminal investigations."
And see: Marc Rotenberg President, EPIC Adjunct Professor, Georgetown Law Hearing: ""The Judicial Redress Act does not provide adequate protection to permit data transfers and it does not address the many provisions in the Privacy Act that need to be updated."
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10 news stories and important documents, 11.12.15)
EU: European Commission: Communication A European Border and Coast Guard and effective management of Europe's external borders (COM 673-15, pdf), Proposals to come.
Massive expansion in Frontex's role, its all here: "the right to intervene", "European Return Intervervention Teams", hotspots, "rapid reserve pool" and more including:
"As the body assigned to implement the European integrated border management, the Agency will be able to call on this pool within a very limited timeframe in circumstances requiring immediate response. Member States will have to make available at least 1,500 border guards to be deployed by the Agency in rapid border interventions within days" - for example to meet a sudden migration crisis. [emphasis added] and directly inteevene in a state:
"cooperation with third countries where it can coordinate operational cooperation between Member States and neighbouring third countries in the field of border management, including by deploying liaison officers to third countries or launching joint operations on Union territory or on the territory of third countries. This will notably remedy the situation which is currently faced in the cooperation with the Western Balkan countries where, despite the agreement of the third countries in question, Frontex is unable to provide operational assistance as it does not have the mandate to send border guard teams to countries such as Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia."
- Request for a negotiation mandate for the Presidency on judicial cooperation in criminal matters on the basis of Articles 38 and 24 TEU (Restricted doc no:6438-rev-2-02, pdf, 5 April 2002):
"The Council agrees on the principle of proposing to the United States that an agreement be negotiated between the European Union and the United States, on the basis of Article 38 of the TEU, in the field of penal cooperation on terrorism."
On 21 September 200 I the US reacted to these conclusions in the following way (letter from the US Mission in Brussels to the Presidency): "Judicial cooperation: The US is prepared to explore the possibilities for a formal agreement with the EU on judicial cooperation in criminal matters, with a view to overcoming impediments in existing agreements with EU Member States."
- Proposal for an EU arrest warrant (LIMITE doc no: 13425-01,pdf) Dated 31 October 2001
- Data retention: Expert meeting on cyber crime: Data retention: At Europol HQ (April 2002, pdf): including: "List of minimum and optional data to be retained by Service providers and Telcos"
- Draft Data retention Framework Decision: From the Belgium Council Presidency (July-December 2001): CONFIDENTIAL: English translation of Belgian proposal for Third Pillar legislation (pdf)
See also Statewatch's unique Justice and Home Affairs Archive (1976-2000): Containing 8,550 documents - ongoing
EU: Frontex: Africa-Frontex Intelligence Community: AFIC Joint Report 2015 (pdf)
SWITZERLAND: Parliament rejects systematic border control proposal (swissinfo.ch, link): "Both houses of parliament have rejected a proposal by the conservative right Swiss People’s Party to perform systematic checks on people crossing the Swiss border."
UPDATED: The European Parliament has "egg on its face": EU Passenger Name Record (PNR): Civil Liberties Committee backs EP/Council deal (Press release, 10.12.15, pdf):
"The agreed directive will provide for the transfer by air carriers to EU member states' "Passenger Information Units" (PIUs) of PNR data of passengers of "extra-EU flights" (i.e.from a third country to an EU member state or vice-versa). It will allow, but not oblige, member states to apply its provisions also to "intra-EU flights" (i.e. from an EU member state to one or more of the other). If a member state wishes to apply this directive to intra- EU flights, "it shall give notice in writing to the Commission to that end", says the text." (emphasis added]
All 28 Member States in a Declaration (see below) have said they intended to invoke this sweeping new power.
In the agreed "compromise" text: Proposal for a Directive on the use of Passenger Name Record data for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime - approval of final compromise text (LIMITE doc no: 14670-15, 46, pages, dated 2 December 2015, pdf): it states that:
"The text agreed contains the voluntary inclusion of intra-EU flights"
Thus the European Parliament agreed the compromise deal in the trilogue meetings. However, Member States have just circulated a Note following the Justiice and Home affairs Council of 3-4 December 2015:
"Draft declaration by the Member States to the minutes of the Council
"Article 1a of the PNR Directive allows Member States that so wish to apply it to intra-EU flights on a voluntary basis, upon notice to the Commission to that end.
Considering the current security situation in Europe, *Member States declare that by the date of transposition provided for in Article 15 they will make full use of the possibility provided for by Article 1a under the conditions set by the Directive.* [thanks to EDRI]
In short, yes it is "voluntary" but all Member States have agreed to extend the scope of the Directive from recording PNR data from flights in and out of the EU to also include all flights between Member States within the EU - at a stroke the scope of the measure massively extended. It will be interesting to see how the European Parliament will react.
"The European Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly, has invited feedback from individuals, NGOs, business associations and other organisations on the transparency of "trilogues".
Trilogues are informal negotiations between the Parliament, the Council and the Commission aimed at reaching agreements on new EU legislation. The public consultation will feed into the European Ombudsman's overall assessment of what steps can be taken to make trilogues more transparent.
Ms O'Reilly stated: "Trilogues are where the deals are done. The vast majority of draft EU laws now pass through the trilogue process before being finalised. Europeans have a right to an EU law-making process that is as open as possible, while elected representatives also need the space to negotiate."
European Parliament: Permanent relocation scheme and list of safe countries of origin: state of play (1.12.15, pdf):
"The Civil Liberties Committee discussed the permanent relocation mechanism with the Commission, which presented its proposal to MEPs, and the Council, which briefed the committee on the state of play in discussions among member states. The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) also presented the "State of play of relocation operations in the hot spots".
The EU common list of safe countries of origin was also discussed with the Commission and Council. The EASO presented the situation in the Western Balkans while FRA spoke on fundamental rights considerations."
Comment: the creation of a "permanent relocation mechanism" looks highly unlikely and the "state of play of relocation operations in the hotspots" shows that this is just not happening (see: Statewatch Compilation: Commission statistics ongoing: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis)
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22 news stories and important documents, 10.12.15)
10th anniversary of Frontex,
10 measures which put fundamental rights at risk
10/12/15 – On this International Human Rights Day, EuroMed Rights and the other members of the Frontexit Campaign alert the authorities and the public opinion on the dangers of reinforcing the European agency Frontex. They draw attention to 10 upcoming measures, like a set of poisoned chalices, which contribute to the violation of the fundamental rights of migrants and refugees at the expense of their reception and protection.
European Commission orders infringements procedures against Greece, Italy, Hungary and Croatia
"The Commission is today urging Greece, Croatia and Italy to correctly implement the Eurodac Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 603/2013), which provides for effective fingerprinting of asylum seekers and transmission of data to the Eurodac central system within 72 hours....
The Commission is also urging Greece and Malta to communicate the national measures taken to fully transpose the Asylum Procedures Directive (Directive 2013/32/EU), which sets out common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection, and the Reception Conditions Directive (Directive 2013/33/EU), which deals with access to reception conditions for asylum seekers while they wait for examination of their applications."
"Firstly, regarding the asylum procedures, the Commission is concerned that there is no possibility to refer to new facts and circumstances in the context of appeals and that Hungary is not automatically suspending decisions in case of appeals - effectively forcing applicants to leave their territory before the time limit for lodging an appeal expires, or before an appeal has been heard....
Secondly, regarding rights to translation and interpretation, the Commission is concerned the Hungarian law on fast-tracked criminal proceedings for irregular border crossings does not respect provisions of the Directive on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings, which ensures that every suspect or accused person who does not understand the language of the proceedings is provided with a written translation of all essential documents, including any judgment....
Thirdly, on the fundamental right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial under Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, there are concerns as to the fact that under the new Hungarian law dealing with the judicial review of decisions rejecting an asylum application a personal hearing of the applicants is optional. Judicial decisions taken by court secretaries (a sub-judicial level) lacking judicial independence also seem to be in breach of the Asylum Procedures Directive and Article 47 of the Charter."
EU-PNR: European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS): EDPS supports EU legislator on security but recommends re-thinking on EU PNR (Statement, pdf):
"An EU PNR scheme programme would be the first large-scale and indiscriminate collection of personal data in the history of the Union. Since it is likely to cover at least all flights to and from the EU and may also involve intra EU and/or domestic flights, millions of non-suspect passengers would potentially be affected by the EU PNR proposal.
The EDPS urges caution before such a scheme is agreed and recalls that the Court of Justice of the European Union defined a high threshold for the untargeted and indiscriminate collection of data in its decision on the Digital Rights Ireland case, which invalidated the data retention Directive." [emphasis in original]
The Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) has voted: 38 in favour, 19 against and 2 abstentions on accepting the deal/compromise with the Council - it now goes to the next plenary session: see: Approval of final compromise text (pdf).
State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis: Updated on 8 December (pdf): Comment on the current situation: Little has changed..
- "Relocations": Member States' Support to Emergency Relocation Mechanism
(Communicated as of 09 December 2015] (pdf): Now 14 Member States 3,827 places offered - up 481 - out of 160,000 needed.
- Returns since September 2015 (pdf): Total "returns" organised by Frontex: 658 - up 49, plus 153 from Italy (no change), none from Greece - same as last week.
- State of Play of Hotspot capacity (pdf) In Lesvos: Now: Frontex: 114 Officers (Debriefing, screening, fingerprinters and registration teams. Border Surveillance Officers, Advance Level Document Officer) 11 "hospots" are planned but only two - Lampedusa and Lesvos - are operational.
- Finanical pledges: Member States' financial pledges since 23 September 2015, € million
(Communicated as of 09 December 2015) (pdf) No change in shortfalls.
See: Statewatch Compilation: Commission statistics ongoing: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12 news stories and documents, 9.12.15)
Dispatches: Masked Men Continue to Attack Migrant Boats on the Aegean (HRW, link):
"He told me that on December 3, he and his family joined 30 other people on a rubber boat in their attempt to reach the Greek islands. About halfway there, they were blinded by a strong light shining on them from a big boat. The migrant piloting their boat tried to evade the larger boat and a small boat when three masked men came at them at such fast speed that he said he thought the boat they were in would capsize.
Mahmoud and other passengers held their babies up so the masked men would take pity on them. But one of the assailants hit the pilot of the boat twice on the head with a truncheon and they disabled the motor by cutting the wires, leaving it to drift. Mahmoud said that some of the passengers tried to communicate in Turkish with the attackers, but that the only language they could understand was the English command to “Stop, stop.” After drifting for three hours, a Turkish coast guard boat. rescued them... We are not alone in raising the alarm about vigilante attacks on migrants and asylum seekers; news media have also reported – and CBS news filmed – unidentified speedboats allegedly interdicting and disabling migrant boats..
Greece starts removing stranded migrants at FYROM border (ekathimerini.com, link):
"Greek police started removing hundreds of migrants stranded on the Greek border with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and blocking rail traffic on Wednesday, a police official and a Reuters eyewitness said.
Some 1,200 people mostly from Pakistan, Morocco and Iran, were stuck near the northern Greek town of Idomeni, demanding to cross into FYROM to reach northern Europe after non-EU Balkan states began filtering migrants by nationality.
The police official said the migrants would be taken to Athens on buses and will be accommodated in migration centers before being sent back to their home countries."
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12 news stories and document, 8.12.15)
EU: Council of the European Union: Data Protection Regulation & NIS (network and information security)
- Proposal for a Regulation on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (General Data Protection Regulation) [first reading] - Preparation for trilogue (LIMITE doc no: 14902-15, pdf): a consolidated version of the General Data Protection Regulation (191 pages)
- NIS: Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning measures to ensure a high common level of network and information security across the Union - Presidency report on the state of play of trilogues (Doc no: 14673-15, pdf)
IRELAND: Twenty one NGOs: Protection, Resettlement and Integration: Ireland’s Response to the Refugee and Migration ‘Crisis’ December 2015 (pdf):
"As some European countries tighten border controls or close borders completely, it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to identify safe routes and secure options for migration and settlement. Political leadership is vital now in the fight against discrimination, exclusion, racism and Islamophobia. Upholding human rights and humanitarian values, along with our collective international obligations for people seeking protection, is critical at this time."
EU-UK: Prüm LEAs data exchange: House of Lords Select Committee on the EU - report: The United Kingdom’s participation in Prüm (pdf):
Under the PRUM Decision EU law enforcement agencies (LEAs) can automatically access DNA, fingerprint and vehicle registration data from other EU Member States' databases. The purpose of this Report was to agree, or not, to the UK re-join PRUM:
"We accordingly recommend to the House that it endorse the Government’s proposal that the United Kingdom should rejoin the Prüm Decisions and the related Framework Decision on the accreditation of forensic service laboratories."
Comment: Rejoining Prüm also gives UK police access to the Eurodac database (holding the details and fingerprints of asylum applicants)
EU: Council of the European Union: Letter from Council President Tusk: Letter by President Donald Tusk to the European Council on the issue of a UK in/out referendum (pdf) and see: The nine labours of Cameron: Analysis of the plans to change EU free movement law (EU Law Analysis, link)
EU: The new Europol: no more European FBI, not yet European NSA.. (EASFJ Freegroup, link):
"On November 30th the European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee has “informally” endorsed (with 43 to 5 with 4 abstentions) the text that the Council will soon adopt as “its” position on the post-Lisbon European Union Agency for Law enforcement Cooperation and Training (Europol).
Following the “informal” interinstitutional practice of the so called “legislative trilogues” (and notably of the so-called “early second reading” agreements) the Chair of the LIBE Committee has already addressed a letter to the President of the Permanent Representatives Committee announcing that when the Council will formally send the text to the plenary LIBE will recommend the Council’s text be approved without amendments in Parliament’s second reading so that the legislative procedure will be finalized and the text “informally” agreed (after some linguistic corrections) could be published in the coming months in the Official Journal.
I have already expressed my personal strong reservations on the legitimacy of such “informal” practices notably because they are done in secret when treaty require the transparency of legislative debates (and negotiations) also for the Council. In the Europol case the latest public texts were: the first “reading” of the EP adopted on 25 of February 2014 (at the end of the previous legislature) and the “general approach” of the Council on 5 of June 2014. Ten secret “trilogues” have been held in the following 16 months until suddenly at the end of November 2015 a draft compromise has finally emerged and has been submitted to the vote of of the Coreper and of the Parliamentary committee paving the way to the “formal” legislative procedure."
Turn back refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh at the Turkish external border so that they do not become the EU's problem:
EU’s Timmermans Talks About Expectations of Turkey-EU Pact to Wall Street Journal (link)
"WSJ: Does it concern you that a significant minority comes from other places, like Afghanistan?
FT: This is all linked. Because of the Syrian refugees, a path is built and then others, who want to come to Europe for other reasons, see the possibility of using that ‘highway to Europe’. A policy will also have to have all these elements – stopping violence in Syria, having agreements with third countries about people who come here who don’t have the right to international protection and therefore should be returned, that’s why talking to Pakistan is so important, making sure that Turkey aligns its visa policy to ours, so that people from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh can be stopped at the external Turkish border rather than coming to Turkey first and having to be stopped at the European border...." [emphasis added]
See: In Danger in Afghanistan, Unable to Flee (NYT, link): "Why do we have to risk our lives?” Mohammad Ali asked. “Why can’t we just get a visa here and go directly?” The answer stretches back to the origins of the world’s refugee and asylum system in post-World War II Europe. In 1951, with millions of Europeans dislocated from their home countries, the international community enacted the Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Article 1 declared that people were entitled to international legal protection as refugees, and therefore asylum, if they had a “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group.” On four out of those five grounds, the Bamian couple would clearly qualify, as officials at Western embassies and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees have told them, and proving it would be relatively easy." [emphasis added]
But see: Merkel urges Afghans to stay at home (euractiv, link): "For the first time, the German Chancellor has urged Afghan migrants not to seek refuge in the Bundesrepublik... The reason is that by the end of October, 68,000 Afghan asylum seekers had registered in Germany, with 31,000 arriving in that month alone. In terms of arrival numbers, Afghans rank second behind Syrians..
News Digest: Round-up of news stories from across the EU (16 items, 7.12.15)
IRELAND: Guildford Four lawyer Gareth Peirce gets Irish honour (Irish Times, link):
"British solicitor and human rights activist Gareth Peirce is among 10 people who have received the Presidential Distinguished Service Award.
Ms Peirce and the others were honoured at a reception hosted by President Michael D Higgins in Áras an Uachtaráin and attended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan and Minister for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan.
Ms Peirce came to prominence with her successful defence of the Guildford Four, who were acquitted and released from jail in 1989. They had served 14 years in prison for the 1974 Guildford pub bombings."
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28 news stories and important documents, 5-6.12.15)
Refugee crisis: State of play: Commission statistics: September 2015 ongoing (3.12.15)
Comment on the current situation: Nothing is moving, offers of relocation and returns static.
- "Relocations": Member States' Support to Emergency Relocation Mechanism (Communicated as of 3 December 2015) (pdf) Now 3,346 offers of relocation out of 160,000 needed - up by 130 since last report. Only 159 people have been relocated: 129 from Italy and 30 form Greece - no change from last week and week before.
- Returns since September 2015 (pdf): Total "returns" organised by Frontex: 609 people plus 153 from Italy (no change), none from Greece - same as last week.
- State of Play of Hotspot capacity (3.12.15, pdf): No change from last week
- Pledges: Member States' financial pledges since 23 September 2015, € million (pdf): The total Shortfall was: 2,227,660,000 euro now 2,224,890,000 euro - shortfall for Africa Trust (following the Valletta Summit) is: 1,718,630,000 euro.
- Member States' Support to Civil Protection Mechanism for Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and Greece (pdf) Lots of "needs" unmet and Greece joined last week.
See: Statewatch Compilation: Commission statistics ongoing: State of Play: Measures to Address the Refugee Crisis
Undercover spying unit worked with Scottish police forces (Herald Scotland, link):
"Jason Kirkpatrick, an activist and filmmaker who worked closely with Kennedy without knowing he was a police officer, has written to the First Minister about the exclusion of Scotland from the Pitchford Inquiry. He has suggested two remedies: widen the existing inquiry; or, conduct a separate Scottish inquiry.
Kirkpatrick, who has Core Participant status at Pitchford, wrote that he believed Kennedy interfered with his media liaison work at the G8, adding: “I may [also] have been targeted to have an intimate relationship by a possible undercover officer, "Khris" from London, in order to interfere with my press work.
“These actions that took place in Edinburgh, of which the Scottish Government may not have previously been aware, certainly raise questions demanding answers about possible illegal police tampering with legitimate journalistic functions, and free speech as guaranteed by the ECHR.”
He called on Scotland to be part of the Pitchford Inquiry, but added: “If this request is denied, it is then necessary for the Scottish Government to initiate its own inquiry, to guarantee that such abusive practices as those described above will be properly examined if they have taken place in Scotland.” "
ECHR: RUSSIA: MASS SURVEILLANCE: Arbitrary and abusive secret surveillance of mobile telephone communications in Russia (Press release, pdf):
"The case concerned the system of secret interception of mobile telephone communications in Russia. The applicant, an editor-in-chief of a publishing company, complained in particular that mobile network operators in Russia were required by law to install equipment enabling lawenforcement agencies to carry out operational-search activities and that, without sufficient safeguards under Russian law, this permitted blanket interception of communications."
and Judgment: Full-text (pdf) also: Russia passes law to overrule European human rights court (BBC News, link)
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20 news stories and documents, 4.12.15)
EU: Final text of the new Europol Regulation: Proposal for a REGULATION on the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation and Training (Europol) and repealingreplacing and repealing Council Decisions 2009/371/JHA, 2009/934/JHA, 2009/935/JHA, 2009/936/JHA and 2009/968/JHA and 2005/681/JHA (152 pges, pdf)
EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 3 and 4 December 2015: "B" Points agenda (for discussion, pdf), "A" Points agenda: legislative (adopted without discussion, pdf) and "A" Points agenda: non-legislative, adopted without discussion, pdf) see: Background briefing (pdf)
All Member States think mass surveillance 'is still allowed'. Majority want new EU proposal. Will the Council never learn? Justice and Home Affairs Council; 3 December: "Data retention: The Council had a general discussion on the consequences of the invalidation of the Data Retention Directive by the European Court of Justice in April 2014. All member states considered that retaining bulk electronic communication data in a generalized manner is still allowed. A majority of delegations also considered that an EU-wide approach has to be considered in order to put an end to the fragmentation of the legal framework on data retention across the EU, and invited the Commission to present a new legislative initiative whenever possible."
The Council also "took note" of a progress report: Migration crisis : aspects of judicial cooperation and fight against xenophobia - progress report (pdf).
And discussing putting Schengen on hold for two years:: Integrity of the Schengen area, LIMITE doc: 14300-15, (pdf)
plus: Regulation: establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third country national or a stateless person - State of play (pdf):
"During these discussions, a number of delegations raised general scrutiny reservations and reiterated their positions according to which they consider that it would be preferable to evaluate the functioning of the temporary emergency relocation schemes, adopted by the Council on 14 and 22 September3, before the discussion on the proposal on the crisis relocation mechanism continues.
They are of the view that shortcomings in the implementation of the relocation decisions, including the functioning of the hotspots and the prevention of secondary movements, should be addressed as a matter of urgency." [emphasis added]
EU: Law enforcement agencies exchanging personal data: Article 29 Working Party on data protection: Opinion 03/2015 on the draft directive on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by competent authorities for the purposes of prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or the execution of criminal
penalties, and the free movement of such data (pdf):
Transfers to third-party states: "the WP29 favors the introduction of a strict prohibition on the massive, repeated and structured transfers of personal data to third countries authorities and reiterates that exceptions to the prohibition of transfers to inadequate countries should be interpreted restrictively. It supports article 36(2)(b) as introduced by the European Parliament, which states that: “All transfers of personal data decided on the basis of derogations shall be duly justified and shall be limited to what is strictly necessary, and frequent massive transfers of data shall not be allowed”. [emphasis added]
News Digest: Round-up of news stories from across the EU (9 items, 4.12.15)
RABITS team to go to Greece:EU border agency confirms Greece’s request for help (ekathimerini.com):
"“Greece asked Frontex yesterday to launch a Rapid Border Intervention Teams (RABIT) mechanism on the Greek islands in the Aegean, where it continues to face massive migratory pressure,” the agency said in an announcement on Friday, adding that Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri has five working days to evaluate the situation and decide whether to activate the mechanism.
If the mechanism is activated, Frontex explained, EU member states and Schengen associate countries would be obligated to provide border guards and equipment for the operation" and:
Greece accepts EU border help under Schengen threat (euobserver, link): "Greece succumbed to EU pressure on Thursday (3 December) to accept help on defending its borders, after veiled threats it will be locked out of the bloc’s passport-free Schengen zone."
What are RABITS? EU: Rapid Border Intervention Teams (Statewatch database) and FRONTEX and RABITS: the European Union is stepping up its operational efforts combating illegal immigration (Commission press release, pdf)
Denmark rejects more EU laws in blow to integration (Reuters, link):
Decide not to opt-in as a default to EU Justice and Home Affairs policies: " With all the votes counted, the "No" camp won 53.1 percent against 46.9 percent to the "Yes" camp with a turnout of 72 percent, which was higher than expected.
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (28 news stories and documents, 3.12.15)
EU-PNR: Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Directive of the Council and the European Parliament on the use of Passenger Name Record data for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime - approval of final compromise text (LIMITE doc no: 14670-15, 46, pages, dated 2 December 2015, pdf):
"At the informal trilogue of 2 December 2015, a compromise package has been reached with the rapporteur, the text of which is set out in the Annex to this note. Text underlined reflects changes to the Commission proposal stemming from the Council general approach, and text in bold without underlining reflects Parliament amendments already discussed by either the Working Party (GENVAL) or JHA Counsellors. Changes to the text after trilogue of 2 December 2015 are indicated in underlined bold italics....
The text agreed contains the voluntary inclusion of intra-EU flights"
and see: Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the use of Passenger Name Record data for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime Presentation of compromise text (LIMITE doc no: 14740-15, dated 30 November 2015, 85 pages, pdf) Multi-column document with Commission proposal, Council and European Parliament positions and "compromise"
European Parliament: Questions to the Council and Commission on "hotspots" and relocation
- To the Commission: Compatibility of the establishment and management of hotspots with EU law (pdf)
"Since September, within the activated "Hotspot" in Lampedusa, public authorities have adopted new illegal practices in violation of the rights of migrants and asylum seekers. Migrants are hastily "interviewed" and provided with an inadequate form as regards asylum procedures.
Therefore, many migrants are subjected to return decisions without having a real opportunity to apply for asylum under Directives 2011/95/EU and 2013/32/EU. After return decisions have been adopted, migrants are driven out of the centres and only supplied with an expulsion order establishing to leave the country within seven days, via "Fiumicino" airport...."
" 21 Member States have identified national contact points and (...) so far, only six Member States have notified (the) reception capacity they have made available to host relocated people". Likewise, a mere 86 asylum seekers had been relocated until that day from Italy under the new scheme. The 3rd of November, a press release from the Commission underlined that the first relocation flight from Greece with 30 asylum seekers was about to leave to Luxembourg.
We ask the Council which steps it intends to take so that its representatives quickly commit to relocating asylum seekers as soon as possible bearing in mind the urgency of the current humanitarian challenges."
EU-GREECE: Threats to seal Greek border or suspend Greece from Schengen?
" According to Avramopoulos, "the immediate and full implementation of the agreed measures, both in Greece and in all the member states, will strengthen the security of maritime boundaries and will restore control in the northern border, where non-unidentified migrants try to continue their trip to the north.""
Greece faces Schengen threat amid refugee impasse (ekathimerini.com, link):
"As Greece comes under intense pressure to tighten its borders, authorities are still grappling with a relentless influx of migrants. Pressure on Greece appeared to grow on Tuesday as senior EU officials warned that the country faces suspension from the Schengen passport-free travel zone unless it overhauls its response to the crisis by mid-December.
“The Germans are furious and that’s why people are talking about pushing Greece out,” an anonymous EU ambassador was quoted by the FT as saying noting growing frustration about Athens’s failure to meet its obligations."
"The EU is warning Greece it faces suspension from the Schengen passport-free travel zone unless it overhauls its response to the migration crisis by mid-December, as frustration mounts over Athens’ reluctance to accept outside support." (FT, link)
EU weighs internal border checks to shut Greek refugee route (ekathimerini.com, link):
"European Union governments will consider suspending some passport-free internal travel for as long as two years to prevent refugees who make it to Greece from moving on to western Europe, a draft document showed.
The proposal, designed to pressure Greece into allowing EU policing of its Aegean Sea border with Turkey, will be weighed by home affairs ministers of the 28 EU countries at a meeting in Brussels on Friday. Legal provisions will be discussed “that one or more member states decide to reintroduce border control at all or at specific parts of their internal borders,” according to the document, which was published by the Statewatch.org civil liberties website."
SNOWDEN: USA: FBI extradition letter to Denmark, Norway,Sweden and Finland (June 2013, pdf)
EU: Council: Heads of JHA Agencies meeting, 3 - 4 November 2015 (pdf)
Agencies agreed to focus in particular on:
– ensuring fundamental rights, data protection and privacy of the people in Europe in the area of freedom, security and justice;
– developing further support to Member States for the management of irregular migration;
– streamlining inter-agency cooperation in the Hotspots and tackl ing irregular migration at the Western Balkan route;
– enhancing joint operational activities aimed at addressing the threats to Europe and the Schengen free movement area.....
EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 3 and 4 December 2015: "B" Points agenda (for discussion, pdf), "A" Points agenda: legislaitve (adopted without discussion, pdf) and "A" Points agenda: non-legislative, adopted without discussion, pdf) Background briefing (pdf)
The Council is discussing: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a crisis relocation mechanism... amending the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third country national or a stateless person - State of play (pdf):
"During these discussions, a number of delegations raised general scrutiny reservations and reiterated their positions according to which they consider that it would be preferable to evaluate the functioning of the temporary emergency relocation schemes, adopted by the Council on 14 and 22 September3, before the discussion on the proposal on the crisis relocation mechanism continues.
They are of the view that shortcomings in the implementation of the relocation decisions, including the functioning of the hotspots and the prevention of secondary movements, should be addressed as a matter of urgency." [emphasis added]
Agenda includes European Public Prosecutor's Office, migration, e-evidence and data retention, the EU's latest internal security strategy, Europol, the migration of students and researchers, the relocation of refugees and a common EU list of safe countries of origin.
EU: BORDERS: Sealing off Europe: Council Presidency proposals for protecting the "integrity of the Schengen area"
- Council Presidency issues proposals to "prepare debate" at JHA Council meeting on 3 and 4 December
- Smart borders discussions rumble on in background
A Frontex operation should be set up in northern Greece, identity controls within the Schengen area should be increased and the Council should call for the reintroduction of border controls in "one or more" unnamned Schengen states, according to proposals from the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the EU.
See: Note from: the Presidency to: Permanent Representatives Committee (Part 2)/Council, Integrity of the Schengen area, 14300/15, 1 December 2015 (pdf)
And see: Exclusive: leaked document reveals EU plans to suspend Schengen for two years (EU Law Analysis, link)
Smart borders: Working Party on Frontiers/Mixed Committee, Summary of discussions, 13193/15, 17 November 2015 (pdf)
FRANCE-EU: Valls to Pittella: if Parliament doesn't agree on PNR, Member States will do it themselves
French prime minister Manuel Valls has written to Gianni Pittella, chair of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, demanding the adoption of the EU Passenger Name Record Directive on air travel surveillance by the end of the year: "And in truth, if we cannot [agree the PNR Directive], there can be no justification in the view of our public opinions. I therefore fear that certain Member States will have no alternative but to use intergovernmental channels. This is not what I want because I have faith in the Community method, but you will agree that protecting citizens must take precedence over these concerns."
Earlier in the letter, he sets out what he (and the Council as a whole) are demanding the Parliament agree to:
"...it is of the utmost importance that the EU PNR system is fully operational and effective. To this end, we must ensure, in particular, the following main points: the obligatory inclusion of inter-European flights, which will help further foil the terrorists' strategies to avoid detection; a period of one year before data is masked, and four years before it is destroyed; and the inclusion in the record of serious national offences (not just transnational offences). These measures are supported by all Member States, who all face the same issues, as it was clearly outlined in the conclusions adopted by the Justice and Home Affairs Council of 20 November 20 15. If we do not include these points in the text, this tool will be devoid of its effective scope, which will weaken our collective ability to prevent further terrorist attacks."
See the: Letter from Manuel Valls to Gianni Pittella (pdf) and recent news on the PNR Directive negotiations: Mass surveillance legislation creeps closer: leaked compromise text
The EU will update its terrorism law to meet international obligations at the same time as introducing new powers "to tackle the evolving terrorist threat in a more effective way, thereby enhancing the security of the EU and the safety of its citizens." The Commission has not carried out an impact assessment of the proposals due to the "urgent need" for new anti-terrorism measures.
The proposal: European Commission, Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating terrorism and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA on combating terrorism, COM(2015) 625 final, 2 December 2015 (pdf)
News Digest: Round-up of stories from across Europe (8 items, 2.12.15)
EU-ITALY: Statewatch Briefing: The Italian Roadmap 2015 Hotspots, readmissions, asylum procedures and the re-opening of detention centres (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico
The following is an annotated translation of the Italian Roadmap produced on 28 September 2015, which also refers to eight attachments which are not available. By way of introduction, it is worth noting that it illustrates the Italian Interior Ministry’s position and plan for reception of migrants and refugees in the context of the current crisis in late September. Some preliminary comments are in order, including:
The EU has announced a €350 million aid package described as "the single biggest EU measure in response to the Syrian refugee crisis to date," which will fund programmes aimed at helping "up to 1.5 million Syrian refugees and overstretched host communities in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq."
According to a Commission document, the fund has "two main strategic objectives" - to "stabilise the overstretched host countries (Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq)" and "reduce the pull factors and root causes of the migration crisis (in the entire region)".
Public meeting in Calais, France on 12 December: "the « hotspots » terminology (especially for Italy and Greece) and « processing centre » (in Niger in particular) have become the new keywords in the European institutions’ communication. Activists and researchers gathered in Calais will exchange views both on these projects and the effects which can already be observed in a number of regions declared as “front lines” of the fight against the so-called illegal emigration. Participants from Greece, Turkey, Italy and Niger will share their experiences and analysis in order to strengthen the defence of human rights and the collective struggles in favour of freedom of movement in Calais, Europe and beyond."
EU: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2.12.15)
On 23 November the Luxembourg Presidency of the Council sent produced a detailed note outlining who is doing what within the Council to implement the EU's Renewed European Union Internal Security Strategy, which was adopted in June 2015.
The strategy covers everything from terrorism to environmental crime and the note provides information on dozens of projects trying to put it into practice. This includes work on "common risk indicators" for border guards, cooperating with technology corporations to launch a counter-terrorism "IT platform", proposals to interconnect national police databases through a "register", and cooperation to better implement "certain categories of entry ban".
EU: Mass surveillance and internal security in the EU (GUE/NGL, link). Public meeting in Brussels on 2 December looking at mass surveillance, state of affairs and impact on civil liberties; and blurring the lines of law enforcement and intelligence. Speakers: Annie Machon, whistle blower - Tony Bunyan, statewatch.org - Estelle Massé, Access now - Mathias Monroy, activist and blogger - Raf Jespers, Progress Lawyer Network.
According to Politico, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU are close to an agreement on the Passenger Name Record Directive, which would require the mass surveillance of air travel as a first step towards the surveillance of all mass transport.
Statewatch has obtained Kirkhope's proposals for the text, which have been discussed recently with his shadow rapporteurs. See: EU-PNR Directive, Kirkhope proposals (pdf).
And: the most recent compromise text "negotiated between the Presidency and the rapporteur Kirkhope". Five key issues remain: the definition of serious crime; the inclusion of intra-EU flights; data retention provisions; data protection; and the inclusion of non-carrier economic operators (e.g. tour companies). See: Presidency, Presentation of compromise text, 14740/15, 30 November 2015
GREECE-TURKEY: PRESS RELEASE: No More Lives Lost in the Aegan Sea! (pdf)
"The undersigned organizations call on the EU and the Greek Government:
• to develop sufficient and effective resettlement programmes for refugees from third countries to the territory of European countries
• to develop refugee relocation programmes from Greece to other EU countries under which there will be significant increase in both the number of refugees relocated and the eligible countries of origin
• to offer to Greece the financial and technical support needed
• to remove the fence from the Greek-Turkish border and in any case to take all the necessary steps to ensure safe access to the land Greek-Turkey border for people entitled to international protection
• to take all the necessary steps so that the people entitled to international protection entering Greek territory are enjoying appropriate reception conditions that respect foremost human dignity."
Signed by AITMA, ARSIS, Network for the Social Support of Immigrants and Refugees, Greek Helsinki Monitor, Greek Forum of Refugees, PRAKSIS, Initiative for Detainees' Rights.
And see: Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1.12.15)
Commission registers call for EU sanctions on Hungary (EUobserver, link): "The European Commission registered Monday (30 November) a European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) calling for a procedure against Hungary over alleged breaches of EU fundamental values.
The decision, mainly based on legal grounds, was taken while the Hungarian commissioner Tibor Navracsics was npt present. Navracsics, who is from the Fidesz, the party of Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban, protested in a letter to his fellow commissioners."
See: Wake up Europe ! Agir pour préserver le projet démocratique européen (The European Citizens' Initiative, link)
In October the Justice and Home Affairs Council sought to boost Europol's counter-terrorism work. This note contains an overview by Europol on "progress concerning counter terrorism related information exchange, and in particular Focal Point (FP) Travellers (relating to foreign fighters), as well as the development of the European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) at Europol." The ECTC is supposed to start working on 1 January 2016.
‘Foreign Terrorist Fighters’: Criminalising stay in a terrorist territory? An evaluation in light of criminal law, human rights and public international law parameters (pdf): Executive summary of a study published by the Dutch Ministry of Justice and Security: "The central question in this research is to what extent can appropriate criminalization of voluntary stay in a territory controlled by a terrorist organization be determined taking into account: fundamental principles of criminal law, i.e. the principle of legality and the requirements that only human conduct is criminally punishable and only if it is wrongful (the criminal law parameters); relevant international human rights, in particular those guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) (human rights parameters); and public international law principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and the authority to assert criminal jurisdiction (public international law parameters)."
The summary concludes that: "the proposed criminalisation of voluntary stay in a territory controlled by a terrorist organization' cannot be meaningfully realised within the existing legal parameters."
News Digest: Round-up of news stories from across the EU (5 items, 1.12.15)
Statewatch is publishing more documents from the Council of the EU on the negotiations over the new Data Protection Regulation, currently the subject of trilogue discussions between the Council, the Parliament and the Commission. The documents include a note from the Presidency to Member States' delegations on "outstanding issues where further input is needed": data breaches, data protection officers and administrative fines, amongst other things.
In the days leading up to the EU-Turkey summit that EU Council President Tusk said would "change the rules of the game when it comes to stemming the migration flow," the Commission issued its Decision on the project's funding: the €3 billion "Refugee Facility for Turkey" (pdf).
The Facility is supposed to be funded with €500 million from the EU and €2.5 billion from the Member States, and has the aim:
"to assist Turkey in addressing the immediate humanitarian and development needs of the refugees and their host communities, national and local authorities in managing and addressing the consequences of the inflow of refugees."
See also: Mülteci-Der (Association for Solidarity with Refugees): Put an end to the dirty deal and respect the human rights at the EU-Turkey summit on 29 November, 2015! (pdf): "We denounce this dirty deal over the lives of refugees. We say that no political, economical or social argument could be more precious than human lives. We call the EU and Turkish leaders to terminate this dirty deal at today's summit, to respect human rights and human honour in all their policies and practices and to be transparent in their negotiations and in their asylum/migration policies/practices."
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