EU: Opening up secret trilogue decision-making awaits court decision

On 15 April 2015 Emilio de Capitani (Freegroup, link) applied to the European Parliament for documents summarising negotiations between the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament in secret trilogue meetings... having been refused access to the requested documents Emilio de Capitani took the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) where the case is pending.

In response to the European Ombudsman the Council says it will not move on making trilogue four-column documents public until the CJEU rules in the Emilio de Capitani case.

See: Decision of the European Ombudsman on Own-initiative inquiry OI/8/2015/FOR concerning transparency of trilogues (LIMITE doc no: 15107-16, pdf) and Background: Statewatch Analyses:

Secret trilogues and the democratic deficit (September 2007, pdf)
European Parliament: Abolish 1st [and 2nd] reading secret deals - bring back democracy “warts and all” (pdf)
Proposed Commission changes to Regulation on access to documents fail to meet Lisbon Treaty commitments (pdf)
A missed opportunity to open up secret trilogue decision-making in the EU (July 2016).

EU: Council of the European Union: Proposal for: Directive on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly skilled employment (LIMITE doc no: 15275-16, 72 pages, pdf) The Council developing its position on the infamous "Legal Migration" proposal. 152 Footnotes with Member States' positions.

"Presidency compromise suggestions to be discussed at the meeting on 14 December are indicated in bold and the deleted text is marked with […] ... "

Based on the Commission's: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth (COM 2020-10, pdf)

"Demographic ageing is accelerating. As the baby-boom generation retires, the EU's active population will start to shrink as from 2013/2014. The number of people aged over 60 is now increasing twice as fast as it did before 2007 – by about two million every year compared to one million previously. The combination of a smaller working population and a higher share of retired people will place additional strains on our welfare systems."

Put forward just after the "Returns Directive" which aims to remove resident "illegal" migrants and refugees from the EU. This proposal seeks in the face of an ageing population and smaller workforce to recruit skilled labour from the global south to maintain the EU's standards of living through:

"A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ sets the objective of the Union becoming an economy based on knowledge and innovation, reducing the administrative burden on companies and better matching labour supply with demand. Measures to facilitate the admission of third-country national highly skilled workers have to be seen in that broader context....

in order to remain an attractive destination for talents and skills, Europe must compete in the global race for talent. Strategies to maximise the opportunities of legal migration should therefore be developed, including the streamlining of existing rules." [emphasis added]

New Italian government seeks migration crackdown (DW, link):

"Italy's leaders have launched a push to increase ID checks, deportations, and the construction of detention centers. The tough migration stance is the first major policy departure for new Prime Minister Gentiloni.

Italy has decided to ramp up checks on migrants and increase deportations in 2017, national media reported on Saturday. According to several of the country's leading dailies, police chief Franco Gabrielli sent a memorandum to Italian police stations calling on them to be extra vigilant in the new year.

Gabrielli is the director of public safety for a special Italian police unit called the Protezione Civil, which handles security for "exceptional" circumstances. In his directive, he reminds local officers of the importance of making routine checks "in the current crisis considering the increasing pressures of migration in an international context characterized by instability and which require maximum effort…to keep our territory 'under control.'"

USA: 450 churches prepare to act as Trump-era ‘underground railroad’ for undocumented immigrants (Raw Story, link):

"A network of 450 houses of worship across the country are stepping up to act as a kind of “underground railroad” for undocumented immigrants under the nascent Donald Trump administration.

The New York Times said that these churches, synagogues and mosques are all part of the Sanctuary Movement — an interfaith movement that began in the 1960s, but which has undergone a revival in recent years as the U.S. has stepped up deportation of undocumented immigrants."

Portugal to extradite CIA agent over Milan imam abduction (The, link):

" Portugal plans to extradite to Italy a former CIA agent convicted over the 2003 abduction of a radical Egyptian imam, a case that highlighted the controversial US secret rendition programme. Sabrina de Sousa, arrested at Lisbon airport in October 2015 under a European warrant, said Friday that the extradition procedure was due to start "after January 3rd".

De Sousa and 23 others were convicted in absentia by an Italian court in 2009 over the kidnapping of Abu Omar from a Milan street in an operation allegedly led jointly by the CIA and the Italian intelligence services."

Migrants storm border fence in Spanish enclave of Ceuta (BBC News, link):

"Fifty Moroccan and five Spanish border guards were injured when 1,100 African migrants attempted to storm a border fence. The migrants were attempting to reach Spain's North African enclave of Ceuta.

Only two were successful, but both were injured scaling the six-metre (20 ft) fence and needed hospital treatment. One guard lost an eye, officials said. The attempt comes after more than 400 migrants succeeded in breaching Ceuta's fence in December."

Over 100 migrant arrivals recorded on Greek islands in 24 hours (, link):

"A total of 112 migrants and refugees landed on Greek shores in the first 24 hours of the new year, with 46 arriving on the eastern Aegean island of Chios and another 66 on Samos."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (24-30.12.16)

EU-EGYPT: European External Action Service "non-paper": how can we stop migration from Egypt?

A "non-paper" jointly produced by the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the European Commission sets out possible policies the EU could adopt towards Egypt to make "efforts on today's migration" and "to address also the roots of potential future migration."

See: European External Action Service and European Commission, Options on developing cooperation with Egypt in migration matters, undated (pdf)

EU: A Europe of two narratives (OpenDemocracy, link):

""Everybody, it seems, is concerned about the rise of the radical right. In Europe this concern is tied to a recognition that the EU and the Eurozone face growing centrifugal forces. But any coherent response is crippled by the fact that there are two, almost diametrically opposed, narratives on this phenomenon.

The social narrative, which is mostly, but of course not exclusively, to be found in Southern Europe and on the Left of the political spectrum, argues that Europe is failing a large number of its citizens. Not only did they face the brunt of the crisis, but they have no confidence that they will participate in any recovery. European institutions are stuck in a pre-crisis time zone when the major problems were perceived to be inflation and fiscal irresponsibility.


The rules-are-rules narrative takes a very different view... The argument here is that the EU is based on rules and that changing those rules every so often can only undermine the credibility of the European Union and the Euro. Moreover citizens of the North are tired of “bailing-out” those in the South that either cannot or are unwilling to abide by the rules. There are limits to solidarity and any further weakening of the rules provides grist to the mill of the populists.""

"Data exploitation" by smart devices explained

A new short video by Privacy International explains the risks of data exploitation and what can be done to stop it. From the voiceover: "Do you remember the time when, if you wanted to be alone, all you had to do was draw the curtains and - bingo! - your own safe space, where you're in control and can limit what others see and know. Now, whether you're in the middle of a bustling city or apparently by yourself on top of a mountain, you're never really alone."

Watch the video: What is Data Exploitation? (Privacy International, link)

GREECE: Thirty one refugees arrested on Kastellorizo (ANA-MPA, link):

"Thirty one refugees from Syria (18 men, 6 women and 7 children) that arrived from the Turkish coasts were arrested on Friday on the island of Kastellorizo. The refugees were arrested for illegal entrance to Greece."

NETHERLANDS: Dutch Police now tracking suspects with facial recognition (NL Times, link):

"From today the Dutch police can track suspects using facial recognition - faces of suspects, from surveillance camera footage for example, can now be compared with a large database filled with photos of people with criminal records, NOS reports.

At present the database contains more than 800 thousand faces of convicted felons, but also suspects who haven't been convicted yet. You end up on the database if you are arrested for a crime that carries a prison sentence of at least one year, police spokesperson John Riemen said to NOS. The photo is taken on arrest. If a suspect turns out to be innocent, his photo is removed. If you are convicted, your photo will be on the database for 20 to 80 years, depending on the crime.

But it isn't only criminals or suspected criminals that are compared to suspects, according to NOS. The police can also compare the faces of suspects to those of asylum seekers, undocumented migrants and people applying for a Dutch visa. This includes people who never came into contact with the law. To use this "foreigners database" the police need the permission of the Public Prosecutor."

GERMANY-AFRICA: German politicians want to return refugee boats to Africa

"As security and refugee debates heat up in Germany ahead of federal elections in 2017, politicians in the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), are looking to propose a drastic shift in how Germany, and Europe, handle migrant arrivals, according to a new position paper set to be unveiled next week.

The CSU will hold a party convention next week and are set to call for tens of thousands of migrants intercepted in the Mediterranean Sea to be sent back to North Africa, according to an internal policy paper obtained by the "Rheinische Post" newspaper."

EU: The Right to Privacy under Pressure (link to pdf) by Rikke Frank Jørgensen

A useful overview of current dilemmas for privacy and data protection, particularly with regard to the commercial gathering of personal data online as a mandatory requirement for using certain services or products. The author concludes:

"We are currently facing huge challenges with regard to online privacy. There are no binding international regulations, and the EU rules, which in global terms are the most well developed, are still based on consent as the central control mechanism. This is despite the increasing scepticism as to the value and effect of consent, especially for online services. There are alternative proposals for regulation of the area, not least Nissenbaum’s proposed contextual approach to data protection. The idea of a more differentiated regulation, based on analyses of standards in different situations, in contrast to a one-size-fits-all philosophy for privacy, seems to be a sensible response to the current challenges. However, as outlined above a number of unanswered questions remain, which make it difficult to see the model translated into practice."

Published in: Nordicom Review 37 Special Issue 2016 (link)

GREECE: Two arrested and charged with "facilitating illegal immigration" for refugee transport effort denouncing EU policies

Two political activists from the Basque Country have been detained in Greece and charged with "facilitating illegal immigration" after attempting to transport eight refugees out of the country, in an "initiative of solidarity in denunciation of unjust European migration policies and in defence of human rights."

UK-EU: If we win the fight to let refugees into Fortress Britain, the world will take note (The Guardian, link)

"There’s the side of the story we know: politicians scapegoating, talk of swarms and cockroaches in the press; a thundering Brexit vote followed by a spike in hate crime so sharp it gave the nation whiplash. But then there’s the other story, less often told: that well below the radar of the mainstream media, tens of thousands of people from all nations, of all ages, cultures and political persuasions, started giving up jobs, studies, relationships and reliable wifi and heading for the borderlands to do their part. They flooded in to do what politicians and aid agencies wouldn’t: from illegal ocean rescues and calling out police brutality to running art therapy classes, feeding thousands and sorting sky-high piles of donated clothes across the continent from Norway to Calais.

I feel enormously proud to have been part of that movement. I learned a lot as a solidarity volunteer in Greece. Some of those lessons were traumatic – I still have nightmares a year later – but I think I learned as much about politics in weeks in Camp Moria as I did in years at university. The most personally challenging and painful lesson was a simple one: it will never be enough. However many volunteers we have pulling 15-hour shifts, politicians in halls of power far away are doing more damage in a week than we could undo in a lifetime. For all their summits, resolutions and deals, in 2015 one in 269 people crossing to Europe died; this year it’s one in 88. With deprivation and incarceration systematically inflicted on people in the name of border control, when we say “refugees welcome” that is a commitment to campaign for radical change here at home – or it’s meaningless."

UK: Hillsborough campaigner Phil Scraton refuses OBE (BBC News, link):

"Hillsborough campaigner Prof Phil Scraton has turned down an OBE in the Queen's New Year Honours list.

...he added: "I headed the Panel's research team and was a consultant to the families' lawyers throughout the new inquests.

"I could not receive an honour on the recommendation of those who remained unresponsive to the determined efforts of bereaved families and survivors to secure truth and justice."


Prof Scraton acknowledged his decision "might come as a disappointment to some Hillsborough families, survivors and whoever nominated me".

However, he added: "Finally, I could not accept an honour tied in name to the 'British Empire'.

"In my scholarship and teaching I remain a strong critic of the historical, cultural and political contexts of imperialism and their international legacy.""

Italy didn’t register Berlin terror suspect in database: German official (Politico, link):

"Italian authorities failed to register Anis Amri, the Tunisian man suspected of carrying out the December 19 Berlin Christmas market attack, in the EU’s fingerprint database for identifying asylum seekers, a senior German official said.

Frank-Jürgen Weise, the head of Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), a subdivision of the interior ministry, told Bild newspaper in an interview published Friday “there was no information about Amri” on the Eurodac database.


After arriving in Italy in 2011, Amri was reportedly due to be deported in 2015 after serving time in an Italian prison and having had his application for asylum denied. However, he managed to make his way to Germany, where he filed another application, which was also rejected."

GERMANY: A man wrongly suspected of the Berlin terror attack is now living in hiding

"They let him go but within seconds had called him back. Before he knew it he was in the back of the car, its lights flashing as it sped through Berlin. His hands were bound behind his back. Later that night, he said, he was blindfolded and taken from “one police station to another place” about 10 minutes away. He recalls two police officers “digging the heels of their shoes into my feet”, and one of the men “putting great pressure on my neck with his hand”.

They undressed him and took photographs. “When I resisted, they started slapping me.” They took three samples of his blood. A 24-year-old Pakistani identified only as Naveed B was named by German police and the interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, just hours after the deadly attack on a Christmas market on Berlin’s Breitscheidplatz, as their prime suspect.

Speaking exclusively to the Guardian just over a week after being wrongly arrested for the attack which killed 12 and injured 48 others, Baloch is now in hiding, fearful for his life and no longer feeling safe in the country in which he sought refuge as a member of a secular separatist movement in Balochistan, a province that is a frequent target of religious extremists in Pakistan."

See: Man wrongly arrested over Berlin attack says he fears for his life (The Guardian, link)

EU: Council of the European Union: EUNAVFOR, CJEU Turkey challenges and W Africa "matrix"

• EUNAVFOR and the collection of personal data on the "high seas": Council Decision amending Decision (CFSP) 2015/778 on a European Union military operation in the Southern Central Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR MED operation SOPHIA) (LIMITE doc no: 14290-16, pdf): Covers:

"the context of the fight against trafficking in human beings or the arms embargo.... training of the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy, and contributing to information sharing and the implementation of the United Nations (UN) arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya.... to exchange information with relevant third States and international organisations as necessary to meet the operational needs of EUNAVFOR MED operation SOPHIA....

"EUNAVFOR MED operation SOPHIA may collect and store, in accordance with applicable law, personal data concerning persons taken on board ships participating in EUNAVFOR MED operation SOPHIA related to characteristics likely to assist in their identification, including fingerprints, as well as the following particulars, with the exclusion of other personal data: surname, maiden name, given names and any alias or assumed name; date and place of birth, nationality, sex, place of residence, profession and whereabouts; driving licenses, identification documents and passport data. It may transmit such data and data related to the vessels and equipment used by such persons to the relevant law enforcement authorities of Member States and/or to competent Union bodies...".

• EU-Turkey "deal": Cases for annulment before the Court of European Justice (CJEU: LIMITE doc no: 14355-16, pdf) The Council has been asked by the General Court of the CJEU to provide answers to the following questions:

""The European Council, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission are requested to state whether the ‘additional action points’ referred to in the ‘EU-Turkey Statement, 18 March 2016’ can be regarded as reflecting the existence of an oral/unwritten agreement or of a written agreement.

(a) if there is a written agreement, and without prejudice to Articles 103 and 105 of the Rules of Procedure of the General Court, the European Council, the Council of the European Union and/or the Commission are requested to send that agreement to the General Court;

(b) in the absence of such an agreement, the European Council, the Council of the European Union and/or the Commission are requested to send to the General Court (and possibly to be sent for that purpose) any document making it possible to determine the parties which agreed the ‘additional action points’ referred to in the ‘EU-Turkey Statement, 18 March 2016’."

See: EU-Turkey statement, 18 March 2016 (pdf)

• The "Fontanot Group": West African "matrix": Management and maintenance of the matrix of technical assistance initiatives in West Africa (LIMITE doc no: 15532-16, pdf):

"The informal Fontanot Group is a French-led initiative that focuses on the coordination and deconfliction of Member States capacity building efforts in West Africa and is also a forum for discussing future project activity1. The group, consisting of representatives of the national departments for international relations from a number of Member States and third parties has been meeting informally twice a year or once a year since July 2008...

The current Policy Cycle 2014-2017 does not have the West Africa priority any more. Nevertheless, the informal Fontanot group keeps on developing its activities and meeting regularly (the last meeting took place in Dakar on 26 May 2016). One of the main tools to fulfil its objective continues to be the matrix, which has been regularly updated by the Council Secretariat.

In the light of the above, COSI Support Group agreed at its meeting on 12 December 2016 on assigning the maintenance and management of the matrix to the Fontanot group as of 1 January 2017, taking over this task from the General Secretariat of the Council." [emphasis in original]

See: Decision in 2010 (pdf) giving the task to the General Secretariat of the Council.

Secretive High Level Working Group hides EU's push for the return of refugees and quasi-readmission agreements

The Council of the European Union's High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration (HLWG) is a highly secretive group. The "outcomes" (minutes of its meetings) are not only "partially accessible" (censored) they do not include document references to the matters discussed.

See for example: the publicly available Outcomes of the HLWG meeting on 6 December: Summary of discussions (15407-16, pdf) which is only four pages long because the document is: "DOCUMENT PARTIALLY ACCESSIBLE TO THE PUBLIC (20.12.2016)." And the full version: Summary of discussions (LIMITE doc on: 15407-16, pdf) which is 27 pages. The missing 23 pages are in the deleted Annex to the outcomes.

EU: Council of the European Union: Internal security and C-T report & Policy funding preferences

• Internal Security: Renewed European Union Internal Security Strategy and Counter-Terrorism Implementation Paper: Report on implementation in the second half of 2016 LIMITE doc no: 15277-16, 57 pages, pdf):

"This report gives an overview of the progress achieved in the implementation of the Renewed EU Internal Security Strategy (2015-2020), which is an overall priority for the Slovak Presidency. The NL-SK-MT Trio Presidency decided to follow the same structure for the implementation paper ISS as the one developed under the Luxembourg Presidency ... The implementation paper for the second half of 2016, which was endorsed by COSI at its meeting on 28 September 2016, contained a list of forty different measures and served as a living, non exhaustive work programme for the different Council preparatory bodies under the Slovak Presidency."

Future funding of the EU Policy Cycle: Strategic guidance on prioritization (LIMITE doc no: 15393-REV-1-16, pdf)

"Illegal"immigration tops the list of Member State preferences for funding.

EU-LIBYA: Deadly incident on the Mediterranean sea: Rescue organisation accuses Libyan coast guard

The private rescue organisation Sea Watch e.V. is pressing charges against the Libyan coast guard because of an attack during a rescue operation on the Mediterranean Sea. According to the organisation 30 refugees died after their dinghy was damaged by a patrol boat on 21 October 2016. The rescue team rates this incident as an attack on maritime transport.

The coast guard's patrol boat with the registration mark '267' interfered with the rescue operation of the 'Sea-Watch 2', which was instructed by the sea rescue control centre in Rome. Pictures of the photographer Christan Ditsch, who was on board, show the coast guard pushing between a speed boat of the 'Sea-Watch 2' and the dinghy. The crew was prevented from providing the refugees with life jackets. A person in uniform then came on board of the dinghy and started hitting the passengers. According to the Sea Watch organisation he tried to take away the outboard engine.

Greek fishing village welcomes migrants, while others turn them away (PBS, link): Interviews, worth reading:

"Eighteen months into Europe’s refugee crisis, tensions have surfaced on the Greek island of Lesbos.

It wasn’t so long ago that the islanders there were being considered for the Nobel Peace Prize for their welcoming of refugees. But income from tourism, on which many islanders depend, has plummeted this year, and hostility towards refugees, and to the volunteers helping them, has only grown. From Lesbos, special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports."

EU: Council of the European Union: Qualifications Directive and Firearms Directive "deal" (compromise)

• Qualifications Directive: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on standards for the qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons (Limite doc no: 15261-16, pdf): Lots of Member State positions (51):

"The text of the proposal in Annex contains modifications suggested by the Presidency relating to Articles 1 and 3 to 12. Suggestions for modification are also made to certain recitals in relation to these Articles.

Suggested modifications are indicated in bold and […]. Comments made by delegations on the Commission proposal text, orally and in writing, appear in the footnotes of the Annex."

• Firearms Directive Proposal for a: Directive amending Council Directive 91/477/EEC on control of the acquisition and possession of weapons (First reading) - Confirmation of the final compromise text with a view to agreement (LIMITE doc no: 14974, pdf)

"Four trilogues and a number of technical meetings have been held since September. At the last trilogue on 5 December 2016, the Presidency and the EP Rapporteur reached an agreement on the text set out in Annex to this note."

EU: Council of the European Union: Istanbul & Council of Europe Conventions: Women and domestic violence plus women and asylum

• State of play: Combatting Violence against Women and Girls - Istanbul Convention: the internal and external dimensions (LIMITE doc no: 14631-16, pdf):

"the Council Presidency is submitting to delegations the annexed paper drafted in collaboration with the EEAS and containing, inter alia, the state of play on the EU's proposed accession to the Istanbul Convention and questions for discussion."

• CoE Convention: Combating violence against women and domestic violence (LIMITE doc no: 14756-REV-1-16, pdf): Redrafted proposal: "Changes compared to doc ST 14756/16 are highlighted: new text in bold, deletions as strikethrough."

And see: Previous version (LIMITE doc no: 14756-16, pdf)

• CoE Convention: Women and asylum: Council Decision on signing of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence with regard to Articles 60 and 61 pertaining to Genderbased asylum claims and Non-refoulement (LIMITE doc no: 14757-REV-1-16, pdf)

And see: Previous version (LIMITE doc no: 14757-16, pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: EU Justice and Home Affairs Agencies’ cooperation in 2016 - Final report (EU doc no 15579-16, 64 pages, pdf): Includes the Joint conclusions of the Heads of Justice and Home Affairs Agencies meeting on 14 November 2016, Vienna and pages 33-64 contain a detailed Annex:

"A key challenge in the fields of both migration and security is enabling the interoperability of large-scale IT systems and aligning the capabilities of technology with policy priorities, while remaining fundamental rights compliant. JHA Agencies, together with the Commission and other EU institutions, will take this forward in 2017.

Internal and external security issues of the EU are increasingly linked, with internal security strongly depending on countering and managing external security threats. Within their mandates, relevant JHA Agencies and the European External Action Service, along with other Commission services, will work together on cooperation with third countries - especially in the areas of migration, asylum, border management, and the prevention of terrorism and organised crime."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (23.12.16): including: annual Mediterranean death toll likely to reach 5,000; refugee "ping-pong" in the Balkans; EEAS statement on EU-Mali agreement; let refugees help the EU.

EU: Restricted document gives overview of police efforts against "facilitated illegal immigration"

A recent report submitted by Europol to the Council of the EU's internal security committee (COSI) offers an overview of "the implementation of the 2015 and 2016 OAPs [operational action plans] on "Illegal Immigration". This annex was discussed during the National EMPACT [European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats] Coordinators meeting held at Europol on 22-23 November 2016."

See: EU Policy Cycle: Monitoring of the Operational Action Plans 2016 - Priority "Illegal Immigration" (15212/16, RESTREINT UE/EU RESTRICTED, 6 December 2016, pdf)

Interconnecting Europe's policing and border control databases: High-Level Expert Group interim report

An interim report by the chair of the European Commission's 'High Level Expert Group on Information Systems and Interoperability' sets out the group's work so far, along with "interim findings and possible ways forward" on the interconnection (or not) of EU justice and home affairs databases and information systems - for example the Schengen Information System (SIS); the Visa Information System (VIS); Eurodac; and the proposed Entry/Exit System and European Travel Information (EES) and Authorisation System (ETIAS).

See: High-level expert group on information systems and interoperability set up by the European Commission: Interim report by the chair of the high-level expert group (pdf)

EU-Mali: EEAS statement on the signing of the common communiqué

A statement issued by a spokesperson for the EU's European External Action Service seeks to clarify what exactly has been agreed between the EU and Mali in relation to cooperation on migration. Recent reports have suggested that the EU and Mali signed a readmission agreement, something that was subsequently denied by the Malian government.

EU: Peaceful European Union starts to fund military research (Nature, link):

"Faced with a changing world order and buffeted by a slew of political crises and terrorist attacks, the historically civilian European Union is bolstering its military capabilities. And that means making its first major investment in military research.

On 1 December, the European Parliament approved a €25-million ($26-million) fund dedicated to military research. It will form part of a proposed broader European Defence Fund, aimed at making military innovation more efficient and enlarging Europe’s industrial defence base.

The research portion of the fund will cover electronics, advanced materials, encrypted software and robotics. The European Commission, the EU’s policymaking arm, expects to invest a total of €90 million by 2020. It hopes the figure will rise to €500 million a year for defence research from 2021."

Schengen Information System: EU vows to mend terrorist data share failures (EUobserver, link):

"The European Commission is promoting another set of measures to crack down on terrorism and crime as part of its so-called security union.

A trio of EU commissioners on Wednesday (21 December) said the latest legislative proposals will "strengthen", "reinforce", and "improve" efforts to fight terrorism financing and make an EU-wide law enforcement database, known as the Schengen information system (SIS), even better."

And: EU proposal would expand data collection at Schengen borders (EBL News, link)

"The European Commission proposed expanding its criminal data bank system on Wednesday to help countries exchange more information on terrorism, cross-border crime and undocumented migrants.

The proposed changes to the Schengen Information System (SIS) include facial imaging and palm prints to identify people entering the Schengen area and adding alerts on people denied entry and those whom EU member states say should be sent home."

See new proposals for the SIS with regard to: illegally staying third-country nationals (COM(2016) 811 final, pdf), border checks (COM(2016) 812 final, pdf) and police cooperation (COM(2016) 883 final, pdf)

EU-MALTA: The Right to Access to a Lawyer in Malta: a few steps forward, a few steps back (Fair Trials, link):

"Considering this rather unfortunate backdrop, the Criminal Code (Amendment No. 2) Act of 2016 brings with it some welcome modifications to the law. This Bill seeks to transpose Directive 2013/48/EU, as well as Directive 2016/343/EU in part. Whereas this Bill does represent a major step forward in the protection of the right to access to a lawyer in Malta, the State’s attempts to dilute the protection to be afforded to the individual can still be seen in some provisions of this Bill.

Particularly problematic is Malta’s take on the right to have a lawyer present during the interrogation. Whereas the Directive requires that the lawyer present at the interrogation must be allowed to effectively participate during the questioning, proposed Article 355AUA (8) (c) of the Maltese Criminal Code removes any possibility of that lawyer to effectively participate during the questioning, thus turning the lawyer into a mere silent observer."

Macedonia Court Rejects Wiretap Evidence Against Former PM (OCCRP, link):

"A Macedonian court on Friday rejected a wiretapped conversation as evidence in the trial of 14 people, including former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, OCCRP partner Nova TV reported.

The trial is one result of a massive investigation into allegations of high-level wrongdoing launched by the country’s Special Prosecutor after the revelation last year of tens of thousands of wiretaps allegedly ordered by Gruevski. Security service officials and senior members Gruevski’s former VMRO-DPMNE-controlled government are among those implicated.

Friday’s hearing concerned allegations that Gruevski and others were behind a violent 2013 protest against Skopje Center Municipality Mayor Andrej Zernovski. Gruevski allegedly ordered the protest to disrupt a meeting critical of controversial plans to redevelop Skopje’s downtown."

EU: The corporate wax nose (OpenDemocracy, link) by David Sogge:

"A fountain of noble intentions and good deeds, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has long been advertised as a sure-fire way to improve and extend the benefits of capitalism for society. But does it actually deliver on that goal? Judging by the results of recent research the answer is no, even if many followers of CSR seem unprepared to grapple with those findings.


In conclusion, there’s a lot of evidence that Corporate Social Responsibility is what the Dutch call a ‘wax nose’—a phony contrivance that’s used to beguile us or delude us completely. More than a flashy ornament, it serves as camouflage. As aspiring icons of CSR continue to fall from grace—HSBC, Wells Fargo, Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, Unilever and so many others—a rising tide of earnest CSR reports helps to cover the smell of corporate malfeasance.

Serious research efforts like that of the IMPACT Project may expose CSR’s essential vacuity, but because their findings are ignored it marches forward unperturbed. The dogs may bark but the caravan continues. The show must go on. Wax noses to the front."

Hungary's pro-Kremlin far right is a regional security threat (EUobserver, link) by Edit Zgut:

"The murder of a Hungarian policeman by an extreme-right paramilitary leader in October has shed light on the continuing radicalisation and destabilisation of central and eastern Europe by the Kremlin.

The Hungarian National Front (MNA) was dissolved after its leader Istvan Gyorkos shot the officer as his house was being searched on 26 October.

The neo-Nazi group’s relationship with Russian military intelligence members, which dates back to 2012, came to light during the murder investigation.

It emerged that Russian foreign military intelligence (GRU) disguised as diplomats joined MNA members in military-style exercises. Yet the Hungarian government has still not asked the Russian ambassador to explain.

MNA is one of the most radical elements in a larger Hungarian pro-Russian extreme-right scene, of which Jobbik, the main opposition party, is the epicentre."

UK: Brighton father gives up job to help refugees (The Argus, link):

"A FATHER gave up his career to help refugees.

Paul Hutchings, 49, gave up his life as a marketing consultant, has taken an unexpected direction

Paul, of Hollingbury Park Avenue, Brighton, who has two daughters and two stepsons left his job this year to give the most precious gift: his time.

He said: “I was watching the news 18 months ago and I was getting really frustrated because enough wasn’t being done to help the refugees.

“In September last year I saw an opportunity to go to Calais, so I hired a van for a long weekend and it ended that, going and coming between Calais and Brighton for about six months.

"So I got involved in an organisation there. Then, in April, someone who I was working with in Calais was really keen to do something in Greece, and I was keen to do something there as well.” "

European Parliament: Briefing: Smart appliances and the electrical system (pdf):

"Smart appliances could help shift demand away from peak periods, which is important for an electricity system that relies on variable renewable energy sources. Most of this move will have to be automated, with smart appliances communicating with the electricity system. However, this is contingent on solving issues regarding the interoperability necessary for coordinating multiple smart appliances and households. It will also require the roll-out of smart meters and dynamic electricity prices, as well as making 'demand response' possible in various energy markets.

While consumers seem to have a positive attitude to smart appliances, they are not willing to change their habits unless they achieve substantial financial savings, and are not inclined to deal with control interfaces that are too complicated. Studies show that they are worried about the reliability, privacy and security of these new technologies.

Use of smart appliances could significantly benefit the electricity system when it comes to matching supply and demand in the grid, short-term balancing of the system, and reducing consumption. It could reduce the need for fossil fuel back-up and be conducive to an increased use of wind power. While the benefits seem to be many, the costs are not always clear. The European Commission recognises the potential of smart appliances and advocates development of smart infrastructure. The European Parliament seems to agree, as long as this benefits the consumer and affords a high level of data and privacy protection." (emphasis added)

UK: Police Scotland trained Saudi & Bahraini officers without human rights checks (Reprieve, link):

"Scottish Police provided training to senior officers from the Saudi and Bahraini police forces without carrying out any human rights checks, Freedom of Information requests by international human rights organisation Reprieve and BBC Scotland have revealed.

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain both use the death penalty and torture against people accused of involvement in protests. The Saudi authorities have also sentenced significant numbers of children to death – at least three of whom are currently on death row and could face execution at any time.

Under UK Government policy, a formal assessment is meant to be carried out before justice or security assistance is provided to states where it could contribute to the death penalty. However, FOI requests to Police Scotland and the UK College of Policing, who provided the Saudi and Bahraini training, found that no information was held on such assessments."

UK-FRANCE: Declaration granted in Help Refugees Legal Challenge (Doughty Street Chambers, link):

"Help Refugees has won a significant victory in its judicial review of the Government's approach to s.67 Immigration Act 2016 (the Dubs Amendment). The refugee NGO, represented by Laura Dubinsky, Alex Gask and Rowena Moffatt, instructed by Leigh Day, has been granted a declaration in the Administrative Court concerning the correct interpretation of s.67. The provision requires the Home Secretary, 'as soon as possible' to relocate and support a specified number of unaccompanied refugee children from other European countries. Help Refugees argued, successfully, that the Government was wrong to treat its new s.67 duties as principally met by compliance with its pre-existing obligations under European law (the Dublin III Regulation). The AIRE Centre acts as intervener, represented by Caoilfhionn Gallagher and Katie O' Byrne, instructed by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. Other parts of the claim continue and will be heard in the new year."

Refugees fall victim to people “ping pong” in the Balkans (IRIN, link):

"In an abandoned warehouse at the back of a bus station in Belgrade, several hundred migrants and refugees, most of them young men from Afghanistan, spend their days trying to keep warm and talking about how they will leave Serbia and continue their journeys towards Western Europe.

Officially, since March, there has been no way for migrants and asylum seekers to travel north from Greece other than by successfully applying for family reunification or relocation. But there are options for those who can afford it. Smugglers are charging 1,500 euros to move people from Greece (usually Thessaloniki) to Belgrade, and the same amount again to get them to Western Europe.

But many only get as far as the Balkans before running out of money or encountering draconian government policies. Push-backs, detentions, and deportations are common throughout the region, with some activists describing a “ping-pong situation” in which people are endlessly pushed back and forth."

Two new shipwrecks may bring annual Mediterranean death toll to over 5,000, says IOM

"IOM reports that 358,403 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2016 through 21 December, arriving mostly in Greece and Italy.

Deaths in the Mediterranean this year reached 4,913, according to IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, with 13 new fatalities reported since its last report on December 20.

Six of those deaths occurred on the route between Turkey and Greece late Tuesday, with another seven corpses reportedly discovered during a high seas rescue on the Libya-Italy route early Thursday.

The 4,913 deaths in the Mediterranean through December 21 indicate a 2016 average daily death toll of nearly 14 men, women and children per day.

IOM believes many more deaths at sea may have gone unreported this year – in the Mediterranean and elsewhere – particularly between North Africa to Spain, where data collection this year has been sporadic and many smaller vessels are believed to have been lost without detection.

Moreover these data do not reflect new information received by IOM Rome earlier today. IOM has learned that on Thursday night at least two new shipwrecks occurred, resulting in fatalities that – if confirmed – would bring this year’s death toll to over 5,000 men, women and children." (emphasis added)

See: Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals Reach 358,403; Official Deaths at Sea: 4,913 (IOM, link)

EU-ITALY: The ongoing failure of the relocation scheme

"Since September 2015, 1,950 asylum-seekers (5% of the 39,600 target) were relocated from Italy to 18 European countries."

EU: Let refugees help the EU (EUobserver, link) by Mohammed Alsaud:

"We, Syrian refugees and diaspora, want to be part of the solution to the refugee crisis. This includes embracing our responsibility to work alongside our hosting European communities to protect and instil the values – democracy, freedom for all and rule of law – we have sought so desperately back in Syria.

Participation is a human right and a pillar to a pluralistic and democratic society.

We are eager and ready to do our part to address this crisis. We have solutions that reflect the concerns and political objectives of those who are affected most.

Syrians are best placed to determine policy about Syrians and Syrian refugees. This crisis is our day-to-day reality and our involvement at every stage of the decision-making process as partners and experts needs to be a priority.

With no immediate end in sight for the Syrian crisis, it is of utmost importance that the EU states carefully consider what they can do to protect, educate, and empower refugees, not only from Syria but from around the world, as experts and legitimate counterparts."

UK: Snooper's Charter is 'unlawful' and must be overhauled, Labour's Dianne Abbott says (The Independent, link):

"Labour’s Diane Abbott has called for a major rethink on Theresa May’s snooping laws, which the European Court has indicated are unlawful.

Ms Abbott slammed the Conservative legislation as a "serious erosion of our rights and liberties" and called for new exemptions. "

See also: Does the EU ruling really invalidate the Snoopers' Charter? (The Register, link):

"So there we have it. Like a legal analogy of Schrödinger's cat, European judgments resulting from appeals cases can't be considered to have an effect in the UK until a British judge has observed them.

For now, readers should know that the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) is still due to be commenced next Friday, 30 December, and even if some are suggesting that many of its provisions have been determined to be unlawful by yesterday's EU ruling, their interpretation will ultimately be decided upon by a domestic court in Blighty."

Background: European Court of Justice: The Members States may not impose a general obligation to retain data on providers of electronic communications services (Press release, pdf) and Full-text of CJEU judgment (pdf)

EU-USA: European External Action Service: EU-U.S. Cyber Dialogue statement

"On the occasion of the third meeting of the EU-U.S. Cyber Dialogue in Brussels on December
16, 2016, the participants jointly affirmed specific areas of cooperation as follows: International Security in Cyberspace... Cyber Capacity Building... Internet Governance... Promotion and Protection of Human Rights Online... Combatting Cybercrime... Cyber Resilience... Transatlantic cyber policy research cooperation"

See: EU-U.S. Cyber Dialogue (pdf)

EU and Switzerland agree on free movement (EUobserver, link):

"The EU approved a new Swiss law on Thursday (22 December) that will allow EU citizens to work in Switzerland, opening the way to solve a two-year crisis.?

An EU-Swiss joint committee, where all 28 EU states are represented, said that the law passed last Friday in the Swiss parliament would limit the effect of a 2014 referendum to introduce immigration quotas into the Swiss constitution.

One of the consequences of the referendum would have been to limit the free movement of EU workers to Switzerland, a member of the passport-free Schengen area."

UK: Chakrabarti pledges to end 'authoritarian arms race' over UK prisons (The Guardian, link):

"The shadow attorney general, Shami Chakrabarti, has pledged to end the “authoritarian arms race” to lock up more criminals as prison officers deal with the aftermath of the latest in a string of prison riots.

In remarks that are being seen as signalling an end to New Labour’s “tough on crime” mantra, Chakrabarti said prison overcrowding had contributed to “a crisis this Christmas in British prisons”.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme after riot officers ended a disturbance at HMP Swaleside on the Isle of Sheppey, Chakrabarti said: “In my adult lifetime I have seen a doubling of the prison population and I think this was caused by an authoritarian arms race in British politics between the two parties. We are not in the arms race.”"

And see: Kicking Off… Why Prison Riots Happen (Prison UK: An Insider's View, link): " In reality, prison riots usually occur in very troubled prisons that have an extended history of poor management, as well as inmate discontent and frustration. It is rare that one single incident or decision by a governor leads directly to an explosion of rage by prisoners. There is almost always a whole series of issues and complaints that have gone unaddressed for weeks or even months."

Tusk rallies against ‘undermining of democracy’ in Poland as protests continue (EurActiv, link):

"European Council President Donald Tusk weighed in on Poland’s political crisis on Saturday (17 December), urging the ruling party to respect the constitution, the voters and the democratic process, as two days of anti-government protests spread from Warsaw to two other cities.

Demonstrators continued their protests outside the presidential palace and the parliament on Saturday over the government’s plans to limit journalists’ access to lawmakers.

A large spontaneous demonstration erupted Friday (16 December) outside parliament against the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) Party’s policies under leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski."

And see: #ThisIsEurope: We Stand By Polish Protesters against Media Restrictions (European Alternatives, link): "Beyond far right forces and authoritarianism, beyond censorship and oppression, people in Poland and in many other countries, are demanding to be the ones taking the decisions affecting their lives. People protesting in Poland represent the Europe we want; they represent the importance of joining forces, of taking the streets and the squares without fear, defending democracy, freedom and our basic rights as citizens, that sometimes, are taken for granted."

Connecting unrelated events is a side effect of terrorism (EurActiv, link) by Dr. Marta Dominguez Diaz:

"Connecting unrelated atrocities as if they were part of an orchestrated scheme reveals one of the devastating effects terrorism is having in Europe and North America, a price our collective psyche is paying that will surely have secondary effects. Days like the 20th of December trigger a state of shared paranoia which, albeit difficult to control, is more dangerous than helpful. Actually, the only thing that the three cases evidently share by now is that they all seem to involve, in some capacity, Muslims. Yet it is likely that the similarities between the three stop there.


One may wonder whether a gun attack, injuring three people in Switzerland, would have reached the American public, Donald Trump included, if we could not hastily conclude that it was a ‘terrorist’ act. Would we have been concerned about the Muslim victim(s) if their murder had not coincided with the killings in Berlin? Would they have received the same media attention?"

AUSTRIA-ECJ: Questions on visa in the Dublin Regulation and Schengen Borders Code sent to ECJ

"On the 14 December 2016 the Austrian Administrative High Court referred the following questions to the Court of Justice in C-646/16 Jafari on the interpretation to be given to the term “visa” under the Dublin Regulation III and Schengen Borders Code:

1. Are Articles 2 lit m, Article 12 and Article 13 of Regulation (EU) No. 604/2013, hereinafter: Dublin III-Regulation, to be interpreted in conjunction with other legal acts related to the Dublin III-Regulation or are said provisions to be interpreted independently and autonomously?
If the provisions of the Dublin III-Regulation are to be interpreted independently and autonomously from other legal acts:

2. Is the de facto tolerated entry into a MS’ territory for the sole purpose of transiting a MS and applying for international protection in another MS to be regarded as “visa” as defined by Article 2 lit m and Article 12 Dublin III-Regulation in cases – like the present – which occurred at a time when the national authorities of the involved MS are confronted with an extraordinary high number of persons demanding transit through their territory?"

See: Austrian Administrative High Court refers preliminary questions to CJEU on the definition of visa under the Dublin Regulation and Schengen Borders Code (EDAL, link)

Warsaw sees in Brexit a political and economic opportunity (New Europe, link):

"Britain’s decision to leave the EU is an opportunity to return power from Brussels to national governments, Poland’s eurosceptic leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski told Reuters on Thursday.

Kaczynski, 67, is not a cabinet minister but leads Poland’s Law and Justice Party (PiS), which enjoys an overwhelming majority in Parliament and also has control over the Presidency. He told Reuters that while Britain is a natural ally for Poland could lead to a new treaty that will redefine the EU as “an association of national states.” As for the economy, “we need far-reaching deregulation.”"

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22.12.16) including "Locking down Africa" and NGOs oppose transfers back to Greece

EU: Council of the European Union: Manual on Law Enforcement Information Exchange (LIMITE doc no: 11800-REV-1-16, 391 pages, pdf):

"The manual aims to inform and facilitate practical day-to-day cooperation between different Member States' authorities involved in police information exchange at both national and international level, to serve training purposes and ensure that better informed decisions will be made when it comes to seeking and exchanging information across borders.

The manual contains an overview of all EU systems, legal bases and instruments of information exchange available to the law enforcement authorities of the Member States. This way, the user is fully informed of the available options when it comes to deciding how to seek or provide information across borders."

Locking down Africa (IRR News, link) by Frances Webber:

"In the second part of her examination of EU deals with third countries to stop migration, Frances Webber examines the closure of Africa’s borders against migration, demanded by the EU as the price for development, trade and aid."

See also Part 1: Europe can no longer pretend to respect human rights (link)

European Parliament: "Winter Package" on security and defence, Cash Controls & Asylum Agency

• Study: The 2016 “Winter Package” on European Security and Defence: Constitutional, Legal and Institutional Implications (pdf):

"This study was commissioned by the European Parliament's Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs of the European Parliament. It examines a series of constitutional, legal and institutional implications of the proposals endorsed by the December 2016 European Council for the further development of the Common Security and Defence Policy in the framework of the current Treaties."

• Briefing: Controls of cash movements (pdf):

"In spite of a steady growth in non-cash payment methods, cash remains an important means of payment in daily life, mainly for payments of small amounts. Cash is, however, also widely used 'in the criminal economy and it remains the raw material of most criminal activity',2 including money laundering and terrorist financing. As these criminal activities often have a global impact, there are various international bodies, such as the rules of the UN Security Council, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) or the Council of Europe, which have put rules in place targeting money laundering and terrorist financing...."

See also: Proposed Regulation on controls on cash entering or leaving the Union and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1889/2005 (COM 825, pdf)

• Report: Proposal for a Regulation on the European Union Agency for Asylum (pdf): The parliament's amendments to the Commission proposal.

EU-GREECE: NGO letter to Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, President European Commission and Mr. Ioannis Mouzalas, Minister of Migration Policy, Greece: Letter to Commission: Joint Action Plan on EU-Turkey Statement and resumption of Dublin transfers to Greece (pdf).

Signed by ECRE, Greek Council for Refugees, AITIMA and Solidarity Now. Includes Annex on: Observations and concerns on the Joint Action Plan on the implementation of certain aspects of the EU-Turkey Statement and the Recommendation on the resumption of returns to Greece under the Dublin III Regulation:

"In its fourth report on the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement, published on 8 December 2016, the European Commission has suggested a series of measures aiming at increasing the number of returns from Greece under this highly controversial and contested arrangement.

The undersigning organisations are particularly alarmed by the suggestions made in the Joint Action Plan elaborated by the EU Coordinator together with the Greek authorities on the implementation of certain aspects of the EU-Turkey Statement.

We believe that many of the proposed measures will result in depriving asylum seekers and migrants arriving on the islands from essential procedural safeguards to protect them from refoulement, from enjoying the right to family life and the right to asylum under Article 18 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and eventually undermine the rule of law."

UK-IRELAND: PITCHFORD Inquiry: Victims of Irish Police Spy Operaton Demand Inclusion in UK Inquiry (pdf):

"Three victms of a controversial police spying unit operatng in Ireland have fled legal acton to demand their inclusion in the ongoing Britsh Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI). The spy unit has sparked controversy across Europe, while the Tánaiste has failed to support victms."

Thousands of refugees left in cold, as UN and EU accused of mismanagement - United Nations refugee agency and EU’s Echo aid department accused of failing to properly ‘winterise’ camps (Guardian, link):

"The UN refugee agency and the EU’s aid department have been accused by other aid groups of mismanaging a multimillion-pound fund earmarked for the most vulnerable refugees in Europe, leaving thousands sleeping in freezing conditions in Greece.....

The EU aid department, known as Echo, has given UNHCR more than €14m since April to help prepare roughly 50 refugee camps for the winter in Greece, where an estimated 50,000 mainly Syrian refugees have been stranded since the adoption of new European migration policies in March. A further €24m has been given to UNHCR for other projects.

Both organisations stand accused by other aid groups of squandering this money, after failing to properly “winterise” or evacuate dozens of camps before snow fell in Greece earlier in December."

New ECJ ruling on data retention: Preservation of civil rights even in difficult times! (Freegroup, link) by Peter Schaar:

"The European Court of Justice has made a Christmas present to more than 500 million EU citizens. With its new judgment on data retention (C-203/15 of 21 December 2016) – the highest court of the European Union stresses the importance of fundamental rights. All Member States are required to respect the rights represented in the European Charter of Fundamental Rights in their national legislation. The ECJ issued an important signal that can hardly be surmounted taking into account the current political discussions on internal and external threats and the strengthening of authoritarian political currents providing the public with simplistic answers to difficult questions."

And: Data retention and national law: the ECJ ruling in Joined Cases C-203/15 and C-698/15 Tele2 and Watson (Grand Chamber) (EU Law Analysis, link):

"Today's judgment in these important cases concerns the acceptability from a human rights perspective of national data retention legislation maintained even after the striking down of the Data Retention Directive in Digital Rights Ireland (Case C-293/12 and 594/12) (“DRI”) for being a disproportionate interference with the rights contained in Articles 7 and 8 EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (EUCFR)."

Background: The Members States may not impose a general obligation to retain data on providers of electronic communications services (Press release, pdf) and Full-text of CJEU judgment (pdf)

USA: Documents suggest Palantir could help power Trump's ‘extreme vetting’ of immigrants - Training materials obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center show Palantir has played a role in a far-reaching customs system (The Verge, link):

"Palantir, the data-mining firm co-founded by tech billionaire and Trump transition adviser Peter Thiel, has provided largely secret assistance to the US Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP) in operating a system that tracks and assesses immigrants and other travelers, according to public records. Known as the Analytical Framework for Intelligence, the system draws from a variety of federal, state, and local law enforcement databases that gather and analyze often-sensitive details about people, including biographical information, personal associations, travel itineraries, immigration records, and home and work addresses, as well as fingerprints, scars, tattoos, and other physical traits."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (21.12.16) including Migration, EU Cooperation and Authoritarianism plus SIS II and "returns"

EU: PNR: €70 million for swift implementation of travel surveillance and profiling infrastructure

The European Commission is offering €70 million along with technical support to try to ensure the swift construction and interconnection of the infrastructure required to implement the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive, which mandates the surveillance and profiling of all air passengers in Europe by law enforcement authorities.

The Directive requires passenger data from all flights entering, leaving or travelling within the EU to be handed over from airlines to 'Passenger Information Units', run by national law enforcement authorities, so that it can be cross-checked against watchlists, databases and profiles for the purposes of "preventing, detecting, investigating and prosecuting terrorist offences or serious crime."

Comment (Chris Jones, Statewatch): An anti-democratic farce:

"The Commission's recent staff working document highlights the questionable approach, in terms of democratic procedure, that some Member States have taken towards establishing their national PNR systems: they "first started to build the technical infrastructure needed… and only later engaged in the legislative process."

Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) RULES OUT BLANKET DATA RETENTION: EU's highest court delivers blow to UK snooper's charter - Indiscriminate collection of emails is illegal, court rules in response to challenge originally brought by David Davis (Guardian, link):

“General and indiscriminate retention” of emails and electronic communications by governments is illegal, the EU’s highest court has ruled, in a judgment that could trigger challenges against the UK’s new Investigatory Powers Act – the so-called snooper’s charter.

Only targeted interception of traffic and location data in order to combat serious crime is justified, according to a long-awaited decision by the European court of justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg.

The finding came in response to a legal challenge initially brought by the Brexit secretary, David Davis, when he was a backbench MP, and Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, over the legality of GCHQ’s bulk interception of call records and online messages."

See: The Members States may not impose a general obligation to retain data on providers of electronic communications services (Press release, pdf) and Full-text of CJEU judgment (pdf)

EU: European Commission: "SIS" Package

Security Union: Commission proposes to reinforce the Schengen Information System to better fight terrorism and cross-border crime (Press release, pdf):

"Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said: "With today's proposals, we extend the scope of the Schengen Information System to close information gaps and improve information exchange on terrorism, cross-border crime and irregular migration – contributing to a stronger control of our external borders and an effective and sustainable EU Security Union. In the future, no critical information should ever be lost on potential terrorist suspects or irregular migrants crossing our external borders."

Report on the evaluation of the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) (COM 880, pdf)
• Proposed: Regulation on the use of the Schengen Information System for the return of illegally staying thirdcountry nationals (COM 881, pdf)
• Proposed: Regulation on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) in the field of border checks (COM 882, pdf)
• Proposed: Regulation on the establishment, operation and use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) in the field of police cooperation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters (COM 883, pdf)
Technical and operational updates of the Schengen Information System – Questions & Answers (pdf)

EU: European Commission: Security Union: Regulation on the mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders – Questions and Answers (pdf):

"The proposed Regulation will facilitate cross-border recovery of criminal assets and lead to more efficient freezing and confiscation of funds from illicit origin in the EU without cumbersome formalities. Recovered assets will be used for the compensation of victims, where national legislation allows it. It also provides additional funds to invest back into law enforcement activities or other crime prevention initiatives or it can be used for other public interest or social purposes."

And: Security Union: Commission adopts stronger rules to fight terrorism financing (Press release, pdf):

"Today, the European Commission has adopted a package of measures to strengthen the EU's capacity to fight the financing of terrorism and organised crime, delivering on the commitments made in the Action Plan against terrorist financing from February 2016. The proposals being presented by the Commission will complete and reinforce the EU's legal framework in the areas of money laundering, illicit cash flows and the freezing and confiscation of assets."  

• Proposed Regulation on the mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders (COM 819/2, pdf)
• Proposed Regulation on controls on cash entering or leaving the Union and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1889/2005 {SWD(2016) 470 (COM 825, pdf)
• Proposed Directive on countering money laundering by criminal law (COM 826, pdf)

And see: Third progress report towards an effective and genuine Security Union (COM 831, pdf)

Statewatch Viewpoint: Migration, EU Cooperation and Authoritarianism (pdf) by Theodore Baird

"The EU is actively cooperating with authoritarian regimes to control international movement while ignoring the disastrous human rights records of these regimes....

Nowhere in the new Partnership Framework is there recognition that the main countries of cooperation are ruled by authoritarian or hybrid governments actively undermining human rights. The main countries of cooperation – Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Ethiopia, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and Tunisia – have either authoritarian or hybrid regimes according to The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index 2015 (with the exceptions of Senegal and Tunisia, which are flawed democracies)."

Mali denies agreement on failed EU asylum seekers (Modern Ghana, link):

"Mali's foreign minister on Monday denied an agreement had been reached with the European Union to take back migrants failing to get asylum.

The Dutch foreign ministry signed a joint declaration on the EU's behalf on December 11 which it said would tackle "the root causes of illegal migration" and "enable the return from Europe of Malian migrants".

But Abdoulaye Diop told a press conference: "At no point was there any question of signing an agreement that would allow the expulsion of countrymen (living) in Europe illegally."

Mali "does not intend to put a price on its dignity even if the EU is a development partner."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (20.12.16) including "Zero immigration has never existed and never will" (MEP) and Kos baker wins award for helping refugees.

UK: Cardiff activist, Deborah, speaks out for the first time (Police Spies out of Lives, link):

"‘Deborah’ is bravely speaking out for the first time about the trauma she has suffered after having a relationship with Marco Jacobs, an undercover officer and the subsequent five year battle to find out the truth.

This week she gave a interview to Channel Four News, about her experiences, and to the Guardian talking about the effects of the delays in her legal action against the police. She has also written her story down in the form of a statement for Police Spies Out of Lives, which we share below.

Deborah is one of three of the people involved in her case, she has requested anonymity; this has been upheld by the courts. ‘Deborah’ is a pseudonym."

And: Helen Steel issues statement as former partner confirmed as undercover officer (Police Spies out of Lives, link):

"Undercover Policing Inquiry has named John Dines as an undercover police officer and Helen Steel has issued a statement in response. It is contained here
The Undercover Policing Inquiry has named John Dines as an undercover police officer the third officer confirmed in recent weeks. John Dines was the long term partner of Helen Steel, who until recently was suing the police, with seven other women who had been deceived into relationships with undercover officers.

It was Helen’s search for John Barker, after he had disappeared from her life, which revealed he was John Dines, an undercover officer. This is only being confirmed by the Inquiry now. Despite settling her legal action with a comprehensive apology, the police have until now refused to admit that John Dines was an undercover officer, relying on their ‘policy’ of ‘neither confirm nor deny’ .

Helen Steels Statement: “While I welcome the official admission that my former partner John Dines was an undercover policeman in the Special Demonstration Squad, it is a travesty that the police have been allowed to take this long to confirm what I and others exposed years ago. Even after they issued a public apology for serious human rights abuses to myself and six other women who had been deceived into relationships with undercover policemen, the police still argued they could not confirm the identity of my abuser...."

Landmark Judgment: Khlaifia and Others v. Italy: European Court of Human Rights (ECHR): Holding of irregular migrants on Lampedusa and on ships in Palermo harbour (Press release, pdf):

"In today’s Grand Chamber judgment1 in the case of Khlaifia and Others v. Italy (application no. 16483/12) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

• a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights;
• a violation of Article 5 § 2 (right to be informed promptly of the reasons for deprivation of liberty) of the Convention;
• a violation of Article 5 § 4 (right to a speedy decision on the lawfulness of detention);
• no violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) as regards the conditions in the Lampedusa reception centre);
• no violation of Article 3 as regards the conditions on the ships in Palermo harbour; and
• by sixteen votes to one, that there had been no violation of Article 4 of Protocol No. 4 to the Convention (prohibition of collective expulsion of aliens);
• unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) taken together with Article 3;
• by sixteen votes to one, that there had been no violation of Article 13 taken together with Article 4 of Protocol No. 4.

The case concerns the holding, in a reception centre on the island of Lampedusa then on ships in Palermo harbour (Sicily), of irregular migrants who arrived in Italy in 2011 following the “Arab Spring” events in their country, and their subsequent removal to Tunisia."

See: Full-text of judgment (pdf)

And see: Statewatch Analysis: ECtHR/Italy: Khlaifa judgment reveals illegal detention and collective expulsion practices in Italy’s treatment of Tunisians in 2011 (pdf) by Yasha Maccanico.

EU: Commission report on work in the Eastern Partnership countries, including security and borders

The Eastern Partnership countries are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The report includes a section on "resilience" and "civilian security":

"The resilience of the Partner Countries will be strengthened through stronger cooperation in the area of civilian security. The aim is to support Partners, including through capacity building projects, to ensure the security of their population, to make them more resilient to security threats and to be better prepared to prevent and respond to conflict and crisis.".

See: Joint Staff Working Document: Eastern Partnership - Focusing on key priorities and deliverables (EU doc no: 15625-16, pdf).

EU: Latest reports on cybercrime and law enforcement: including problems with encryption, jurisdiction, and obtaining evidence

EU: Yet another new European intelligence forum: the Paris Group (link):

"Intelligence service coordinators from 15 European countries are organising themselves in a new group, known as “G15”. Initial meetings have been held in Berlin and Rome. The attendees were meant to remain anonymous – but one of them has broken cover.

Rather unexpectedly, a number of European governments have initiated moves to set up yet another intelligence network, whose remit will go beyond cooperation among national agencies and is likely to involve foreign intelligence services as well. Early this year, the intelligence service coordinators from 15 countries formed the Paris Group, known in some publications as “G15”."

European Parliament: ACP-EU :"Zero immigration has never existed and never will" (Press release, pdf):

Louis Michel (ALDE, BE), EU Co-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) said at the opening of its 32nd session, in Nairobi (Kenya) on Monday:

"We must manage migration flows in a human way, in line with our values. Fortress Europe is not working", said Louis Michel. "The history of humanity is the history of migrations. Zero immigration has never existed and never will (…) because no coercive, repressive or security measure will ever be able to prevent a human being from trying his luck wherever he thinks he will be able to give his destiny the basic dignity to which any human being has a right.”

European Commission: Draft Revised Regulation on privacy and Electronic Communications (pdf)

The Commission is planning to present a revision of the Regulation in January - the latest draft is above. This will revise Directive 2002/58/EC on privacy and electronic communications which regulates the way in which telecommunication service providers have to manage the data of their subscribers.

The Commission is planning new rules that will force websites and browsers to switch from a default of allowing users to opt out of online advertising by asking them to opt in to view adverts based on their browsing history.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (19.12.16) including EU-Mali migration deal text; CoE urges Belgium not to resume detention of migration children; Keep squatted Athens refugee "hotel" open; and more.

Widespread ethnic profiling by police: a call for EU action (OpenDemocracy, link):

"These discriminatory practices are not only in breach of fundamental rights standards, they also have an extremely damaging impact on the minority communities targeted, leaving innocent individuals feeling fearful, humiliated and alienated. They also reinforce stigmatisation and criminalisation by the general public of entire groups of people and an ‘us-versus-them’ discourse.

In addition, ethnic profiling is an ineffective and even counter-productive security strategy. Discriminatory stops and searches in the context of counter-terrorism have produced few terrorism charges and no convictions. When police treat an entire group of people as suspicious, they are more likely to miss dangerous persons who do not fit the profile. Ethnic profiling also affects the trust of entire communities, and develops fear of law enforcement among youth and children. It makes the very communities whose support is necessary for fighting crime reluctant to cooperate with law enforcement authorities. Procedural justice research shows that when citizens see the police as more legitimate, they are more likely to comply with police directives and the law. For this to happen, citizens should be treated with dignity and respect and they should trust that the police are truly operating in their best interests."

Italy saved record number of refugees in 2016 (EUobserver, link):

"It has been a record year for Italy's coastguard, with nearly 180,000 people rescued in the Mediterranean. Around 170,000 people were rescued from migrant boats in 2014, with another 153,000 picked up in 2015 and nearly 180,000 this year, including 4,000 just last week, despite worsening weather at sea, AFP reports. The government says rescue operations at sea cost €1.5bn this year, with an extra €2.3bn spent on reception."

GREECE: Keep City Plaza Open. Refugee Hotel Athens (Youcaring, link):


City Plaza is a refugee accommodation and solidarity space in the heart of Athens, Greece.


Following the closure of the borders when the EU trapped almost 65,000 refugees in Greece, the Greek government created more than 49 detention centers, hotspots and camps. City Plaza offers a safe and dignified alternative to these places where the conditions are wretched, unclean and inhumane.

On the 22nd of April 2016 refugees, volunteers and solidarity activists occupied City Plaza Hotel which had been closed for 7 years.

126 rooms on 7 floors. A reception, bar, dining room, kitchen, storage, play ground, health care center, roof terrace, classroom and library.

CIty Plaza is supported exclusively through political solidarity and individual donations."

All migrants have rights - Our call to respect the rights of migrants in an irregular situation (Red Cross EU Office, link):

"Ahead of International Migrants’ Day, the Red Cross EU Office urges the EU and its Member States to take decisive action to protect the dignity of migrants in an irregular situation.

Migrants in an irregular situation are among the most vulnerable people in Europe. Yet many of their needs are not addressed as they often live in the shadows of society, for fear of being apprehended. They frequently live clandestinely, and face significant difficulties in accessing basic services and vital assistance like healthcare, education, or legal support. "Although the numbers are difficult to measure, we know that this group is growing, as people fall off the grid because they are either denied asylum, or choose not to apply in transit countries. Our members are concerned by the increasing vulnerability of the migrants they encounter through their work,” underlines Denis Haveaux, Director of the Red Cross EU Office."

EU: Counter-terrorism: alerts for temporary detention to be added to the SIS?

EU institutions, Member States and "various platforms and forums at the European level" are considering adding a new type of alert to the Schengen Information System (SIS) that woud allow "preliminary and temporary holding or detention in the context of the fight against terrorism," in order to "provide a solution going beyond information collection in situations in situations where there is a threat of terrorism."

See: NOTE from: Presidency to: Working Party for Schengen Matters (SIS/SIRENE): Fight against terrorism: Article 36 alerts (14651/16, LIMITE, 22 November 2016, pdf)

EU: How European databases failed to catch Freiburg murder suspect (Deutsche Welle, link):

"An Afghan asylum-seeker arrested for the murder of a student in Freiburg had already been convicted of a violent crime in Greece. Why wasn't he picked up in Europe's police search networks?"

And see: Asylum seeker convicted of attempted murder in Greece was released before raping and killing German student (The Independent, link): "The murder has stoked growing anti-migrant sentiment in the country, where the anti-immigration Alternative for Germany party and far-right Pegida group have been capitalising on the killing.

...The German government appealed for calm as news of Hussein K’s arrest spread earlier this month, with Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel warning against “incitement”.

“Such horrible murders already happened before the first Afghan or Syrian refugee arrived here,” he said."

MEPs urge Commission to press for full US-EU visa reciprocity (European Parliament press release, pdf):

"The EU Commission should comply with EU law by temporarily reintroducing visa requirements for US citizens, so as to encourage Washington to grant citizens of all EU countries visa-free access to the US, said a majority of MEPs in a debate in plenary on Wednesday.

Most speakers agreed that this is “a matter of principle” and stressed that EU rules require the Commission to present a delegated act to suspend an EU visa waiver if the country to which it was granted not offer full visa reciprocity to citizens of all EU member states. Some MEPs suggested that Parliament could bring this issue to the European Court of Justice."

EU-Mali migration declaration: full-text of the "common communication" signed on 11 December

The EU's approach towards making "deals" on migration with non-EU states continued with the signing of a "common communique" with the government of Mali on 11 December in Bamako. In the communique, the EU and Mali commit to drafting a 'Joint Roadmap' that will focus on the creation of employment for young people; the "reinforcement of coherent and robust civil registration systems"; the introduction of biometric passports; border "management" procedures and "better control of the territory"; countering trafficking and smuggling and returns from Europe to Mali.

See: Communiqué commun Mali – EU - À la suite du Dialogue de Haut Niveau sur la Migration- Bamako, le 11 Décembre 2016 (French only, pdf)

UK: Joint Human Rights Committee on the human rights implications of Brexit

"The process of withdrawing from the European Union will have a significant impact on the legal framework that protects human rights in the United Kingdom. A complete withdrawal from the EU would mean that the UK would no longer have to comply with the human rights obligations contained within the EU Treaties, the General Principles of EU law, which include respect for fundamental rights, or EU directives and regulations protecting fundamental rights. The Charter of Fundamental Rights (the Charter) would not apply and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) would most probably cease to have jurisdiction over the UK.


The EU rights in question are extensive. In this report, we have focused on:

i) rights capable of replication in the law of the UK following Brexit;
ii) rights enjoyed by UK nationals in other Member States of the EU which might be retained following negotiation with the remaining EU Member States;
iii) the extent to which individual rights currently protected under EU law are likely to be protected under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR);
iv) questions about the human rights obligations which might be included in any new bilateral trade agreements post-Brexit."

See: House of Commons-House of Lords Joint Committee on Human Rights: The human rights implications of Brexit (pdf)

Brexit and the Future of Human Rights Law in the UK (EU Law Analysis, link):

" What’s the future for human rights law in the UK after Brexit? The starting point in the debate is what happens to the Human Rights Act – the subject of Professor Gearty’s new book On Fantasy Island. It has a thorough grasp of detail, but also makes the case for the Act in its social, political and historical context. It has a command of the whole subject, but also demonstrates the importance of human rights cases to the individuals concerned.

In particular, On Fantasy Island demolishes the myth of a glorious past for human rights as part of the common law (see also his blog post on this theme). As Professor Gearty notes, it’s true that the Salvation Army had the right to march joylessly to demand that people endure grinding poverty with tedious sobriety. But many others were unsuccessful asserting such rights – or were subject to wrongful convictions which sometimes either turned into wrongful executions or would have done so if the death penalty were still applied."

BREXIT: What will happen to police and security cooperation when the UK leaves the EU?

"Losing access to European police and justice databases after Brexit could undermine public safety and harm the government’s ability to protect national security, a cross-party parliamentary committee has said.

Close cooperation with EU institutions such as Europol, Eurojust and the European Criminal Records Information System is “mission-critical for the UK’s law enforcement agencies” in fighting terrorism and serious crime, according to the House of Lords EU home affairs sub-committee."

See: Loss of EU security cooperation could make UK less safe, say peers (The Guardian, link):

Full report: House of Lords EU Home Affairs sub-committee: Brexit: future EU-UK security and police co-operation (pdf):

"In other cases, and especially with regard to what are likely to emerge as the UK’s top objectives in this area, there is either no precedent for the EU permitting access to its tools by non-EU or non-Schengen members, for example in relation to ECRIS or SIS II, or the precedents that do exist would not be sufficient to meet the UK’s operational needs, for example in the case of third-country agreements with Europol."

And see: May Needs Bespoke Brexit Deal to Keep Britain Safe, Lords Say (Bloomberg, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (17-18.12.16)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (16.12.16)

German spies 'can't be trusted': Relations between the UK and Berlin intelligence chiefs hit after comments by London (Mail Online, link):

• Germany's spy agency BND is being frozen out by GCHQ as well as in America
• Both believe insecure servers have led to Wikileaks taking classified documents
• Berlin officials are angry that secret intelligence data has not been handed over
• The freeze-out also applies to the Metropolitan Police and UK Border Force

COMET: New Council working party for terrorist listing and sanctions

A new working party within the Council of the EU with the acronym COMET has been set up to "examine and evaluate information" and "make recommendations" regarding persons and groups to be placed on the EU's terrorist lists. The meetings of the group will be held in secret, and dates, agendas and organisational details of meetings will be classified as RESTREINT/RESTRICTED.

SPAIN: Amnesty slams treatment of migrants in Spain enclaves (The Local, link):

"Amnesty International on Tuesday denounced conditions for migrants arriving in Spain's overseas territories of Melilla and Ceuta, where they said asylum rights were not always respected.

After interviewing some 50 people in both north African enclaves that neighbour Morocco, the group said migrants who arrived there had at times experienced police abuse, and vulnerable people such as homosexuals or victims of domestic violence were not given adequate protection.

Spain's interior ministry did not comment on the report."

Full report (Spanish only): En tierra de nadie: La situación de las personas refugiadas y migrantes en Ceuta y Melilla (link to pdf)

European Council, 15 December 2016: EU-Turkey deal backed, Brexit discussion

EU-TURKEY: Fearing consequences, EU leaders show commitment to Turkey deal (Daily Sabah, link): "Despite the EU's heavy anti-Turkey stance and Austria's calls to freeze accession talks with Ankara, leaders in the European Union have expressed their commitment to the migration deal with Turkey while the European Parliament's calls to halt Turkey's negotiations did not find support among the leaders.

Speaking at her arrival to the EU Leaders Summit in Brussels yesterday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that her country stands by the EU-Turkey Agreement that was signed in March and that Germany intends to continue to support Greece with repatriation efforts."

See: on migration (including EU-Turkey), security, other issues: European Council meeting (15 December 2016) – Conclusions (EUCO 34/16, pdf)

Brexit: EU leaders discuss UK's exit without Theresa May (BBC News, link): "The EU's 27 other leaders have met without the UK's Theresa May to discuss their Brexit negotiation plans.

They met informally at the European Council summit in Brussels amid tensions over the handling of talks.

Downing Street said Mrs May had not sought to be present at that meeting and it showed the EU was facing up to the reality that the UK was leaving.

It comes as the UK government plays down a suggestion that negotiating a UK-EU trade deal could take 10 years."

See: Informal meeting of the Heads of State or Government of 27 Member States, as well as the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission Brussels, 15 December 2016 (pdf)

EC hones in on biometrics in action plan on document fraud (Planet Biometrics, link):

"The European Commission has adopted an action plan setting out concrete measures to improve the security of travel documents, stating that it is needed to improve breeder document standards and information exchange amid current tensions.

The 11-page “Action plan to strengthen the European response to travel document fraud” notes that the need for improved travel document security comes as the issue is increasingly under the spotlight in the context of the recent terrorist attacks in Europe and current migration flows."

And see: Commission to "facilitate discussion on biometric identifiers in population registers" (Statewatch News Online)

Turkey's crackdown propels number of journalists in jail worldwide to record high (CPJ, link):

"More journalists are jailed around the world than at any time since the Committee to Protect Journalists began keeping detailed records in 1990, with Turkey accounting for nearly a third of the global total, CPJ found in its annual census of journalists imprisoned worldwide.

Amid an ongoing crackdown that accelerated after a failed coup attempt in July, Turkey is jailing at least 81 journalists in relation to their work, the highest number in any one country at any time, according to CPJ’s records. Turkish authorities have accused each of those 81 journalists--and dozens more whose imprisonment CPJ was unable to link directly to journalistic work--of anti-state activity.

The global total of 259 journalists jailed on December 1, 2016, compares with 199 behind bars worldwide in 2015. The previous global record was 232 journalists in jail in 2012."

Statewatch Briefing: Eurodac: Member States want wider police access to biometric database despite most having never made use of it (pdf):

A European Commission proposal to expand the Eurodac biometric database has provided the perfect opportunity for national interior ministries to demand that police forces be able to obtain asylum-seekers’ and irregular migrants’ data more easily, despite the fact that half of all Member States do “not yet have experience with law enforcement access” to the system, according to an official document obtained by Statewatch. Proposed amendments simplifying and broadening law enforcement access now form part of the Council’s mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament on the proposed new Eurodac Regulation.

Statewatch Analysis: The EU’s military mission against Mediterranean migration: what “deterrent effect”? (pdf):

Operation Sophia, the EU's military mission targeting migrant smuggling in the Mediterranean, has a "deterrence effect" that "by its presence alone, enhances security in the Mediterranean," according to an internal report by the Italian naval officer in charge of the deployment. Yet as people continue crossing the central Mediterranean, and increasing numbers of them die whilst trying to do so, the only reasonable question to be asked is: what deterrent effect?

EU agencies and officials accuse NGOs of assisting people smugglers off Libyan coast

According to a report in the Financial Times (link), EU border agency Frontex has accused NGOs of colluding with people smugglers operating in the central Mediterranean, stating in a confidential report that it has logged the: "“First reported case where the criminal networks were smuggling migrants directly on an NGO vessel”.

Similarly, in an internal report (pdf) drafted by the head of Operation Sophia, the EU's military mission against smuggling in the Mediterranean, NGOs are accused of making migrant smugglers' work easier by operating closer to the Libyan shore than the EU's vessels.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15.12.16)

Council of Europe's anti-torture committee criticises inadequate safeguards for foreign nationals returned by air from Italy and Spain (link):

"In two reports published today on Italy and Spain, the Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee (CPT) criticises the lack of adequate safeguards for foreign national returned by air from these countries, in particular concerning the way the individuals concerned are informed of their imminent removal and that appropriate medical examinations are not carried out before the flights.

The reports contains the CPT´s findings in respect of two return flights that it monitored: one from Rome to Lagos (Nigeria) on 17 December 2015 and the other from Madrid to Bogotá (Colombia) and Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) on 18 February 2016. The two joint removal operations of foreign nationals by air were co-ordinated by Frontex (now European Border and Coast Guard) and organized by Italy and Spain, with the participation of other countries. The responses of the Italian and Spanish authorities were also published....

Both reports also address specific recommendations to Frontex, in particular in relation to the need for developing more precise common rules on the use of means of restraint as different approaches by the respective national escort staff remained visible to the CPT’s delegations during the monitoring of the joint removal operations. Further, the CPT advocates for the creation of an effective complaints mechanism for the conduct of Frontex escort staff and remains unconvinced that the EU regulation on the European Border and Coast Guard provides for a rigorous complaints mechanism in terms of guarantees that the complaints will be dealt with in an effective, expeditious and thorough manner. " [emphasis added]

See CPT reports: Italy (pdf) plus Government response (pdf) and Spain (pdf) and Government response (pdf)

European Commission press release: EUTF for Africa and IOM initiative for Protection and Reintegration of returnees along the Central Mediterranean migration routes (pdf)

"The European Union, through the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), and with contributions from Germany (EUR 48 million) and Italy (EUR 22 million), has developed a joint initiative with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to support the efforts of partner countries in Africa to strengthen migration management and to respond to the urgent protection needs and unacceptable loss of life of migrants. The joint initiative will cover 14 countries: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire and Libya."

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "This is essentially a plan to create holding centres in Africa pending "returns" to the countries of origin or transit."

First wave of Afghans expelled from EU states under contentious migration deal (Guardian, link):

"Dozens of Afghans uprooted from Germany, Sweden and Norway as EU accord allowing deportation of Afghan asylum seekers comes into play...

For European countries, deportations are partly an attempt to deter migrants. Nearly 200,000 Afghans applied for asylum in Europe last year, most in Germany and Sweden.

However, the men who landed in Kabul on Thursday were not recent arrivals to Europe. Everyone the Guardian spoke to had lived in Germany for at least four years. They now returned to a country that has become more dangerous since they left....

Afghanistan is already straining under the weight of close to a million people returned or deported from Pakistan and Iran this year, according to the UN. The deportations from Europe are likely to compound unemployment and the economic crisis. Most returning migrants simply leave again."

Joint NGO statement ahead of the European Council of 15 December 2016: EU leaders can save lives in winter if they change migration policies (ECRE, link):

"EU leaders can save lives this winter if they change migration policies

This week, European leaders meet in Brussels to discuss, amongst other things, progress on the EU-Turkey deal, the reform of the European asylum system, solidarity and responsibility sharing, and cooperation with countries of origin and transit. As humanitarian and human rights organisations working in Europe, we are gravely concerned that European policies are trying more and more to push people out of Europe, making it even harder to seek asylum, and leaving it to Member States of first entry, like Greece, to shoulder all the responsibility. Disregarding the realities on the ground and the human rights violations that the EU-Turkey Statement has led to, the European Commission proposes measures that will further exacerbate the situation."

EU-DENMARK-EUROPOL: Declaration by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and the Prime Minister of Denmark to minimise the negative effects of the Danish departure from Europol, following the referendum in Denmark on 3 December 2015 (Press release, pdf): A similar arrangement would not be open to the UK under Brexit as:

"This arrangement would be conditioned on Denmark's continued membership of the European Union and of the Schengen area..."

UK: Met to apologise to woman after admitting officer stole dead son's identity (Guardian, link): "Police pledge to meet Barbara Shaw after officer used identity of Rod Richardson to pretend to be an anti-capitalist protester."

EU: E-evidence: Internet companies in the USA to facilitate direct enquiries by European authorities (link):

"When conducting digital investigations, authorities often run up against the problem that the data they are looking for is stored on servers abroad or that service providers do not respond to requests. The European Commission is therefore working to develop uniform standards. A number of companies are already cooperating in these efforts."

Interpol launches new facial recognition database (link)

"Law enforcement agencies increasingly rely on facial recognition systems. In addition to their use in identifying criminals, these might also be used in future to perform automatic matching against appropriate databases of everyone crossing an external border of the EU. Interpol is also considering searching through images on social networks."

Children's rights at risk in EU hotspots (euobserver, link):

"The EU is falling short of ensuring basic rights of children in its "hotspot" migrant camps in Greece and Italy, a new report by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) has said.

"The situation of children is a general concern in the hotspots; the one of unaccompanied children is a particularly burning one,” said Michal Nespor, an FRA official who presented the findings to the European Parliament's civic liberties committee on Thursday (8 December). The FRA is an EU watchdog agency in Vienna.

The hotspots were meant to facilitate EU assistance to Greece and Italy by concentrating asylum procedures and EU support in specific locations. But the idea is not working in practice, Nespor said. Lack of lawyers and other staff has caused logjams on asylum claims."

See FRA report: Opinion of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights on fundamental rights in the ‘hotspots’ set up in Greece and Italy (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (14.12.16)

EU-USA Justice & Home Affairs December meeting

- "for the EU collectively more data, more variety of data and more tempo were needed."

EU and US Justice and Home Affairs Ministers met in Washington on 4-5 December 2016. The main points on the agenda were counter-terrorism, borders and migration and visa reciprocity.

See: Outcome of the EU – US Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Meeting, Washington, 4 – 5 December 2016 (LIMITE doc no: 15062-16, pdf)

EU: European Parliament Studies: EPPO and Drug policy

- Towards a European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, analyses the proposal for a Regulation establishing the EPPO. The evolution of the text is analysed through a comparison between the initial Commission proposal and the current version of the text (dated of 28 October 2016).

The paper assesses whether the EPPO, as it is currently envisaged, would fit the objectives assigned to it, whether it will have some added value, and whether it will be able to function efficiently and in full respect of fundamental rights. It focuses on the main issues at stake and controversial points of discussion, namely the EPPO institutional design, some material issues, its procedural framework, and its relations with its partners."

- A review and assessment of EU drug policy (pdf):

"This study, commissioned by the European Parliament's Policy Department for Citizens' Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, provides an overview of the drug policies in international fora, at EU level, in seven Member States and in three non-EU countries. The study highlights the very different approaches taken and their varying level of effectiveness."

European Commission: report on the "Partnership Framework on migration"

In June 2016 the EU introduced new "Partnership" Frameworks - largely directed at African states - who are expected to sign up to "return" and readmission deals or suffer "the consequences" by losing trade and aid.

Commission reports on first deliverables under the Partnership Framework on migration with third countries (Press release, pdf):

"Concrete progress has been made under the Partnership Framework with third countries on migration, as presented in the second progress report today by the European Commission. The partnerships between the European Union and its Member States' and with the five priority countries, Ethiopia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal have been deepened and further developed."

Second Progress Report: First Deliverables on the Partnership Framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration (COM 360, pdf)

Annex 1: High level visits and achievements (pdf)

Annex 2: Progress in priority countries (pdf)

See also: June 2016: Communication on establishing a new Partnership Framework with third countries under the European Agenda on Migration (COM(2016) 385 final)

EU-UK: BREXIT: House of Lords: Select Commitee reports:

- Brexit: UK-Irish relations (pdf):

"The implications of the 23 June referendum result for UK-Irish relations are often overlooked, at least on this side of the Irish Sea. Yet the consequences of Brexit are highly significant, not only for the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and North-South relations between the two,1 but for the totality of relationships across these islands. Indeed, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has described the UK’s vote to withdraw from the EU as “arguably the greatest economic and social challenge for this island in fifty years.”

This report seeks to draw attention to the implications in key areas such as the Irish economy; cross-border trade; the Irish land border and the Common Travel Area; policing and security cooperation; the future of the Northern Ireland peace process; and North-South and East-West relations."

- Brexit: acquired rights (pdf)

"This report considers one of the most pressing issues to have arisen since the referendum result in June—what happens to the EU rights upon which so many of us rely when the UK leaves the EU?"

Council of Europe: Parliamentary Assembly: Securing detainees’ access to lawyers (link):

"The Legal Affairs Committee underlined the importance of the right to the assistance of a defence counsel in criminal cases, as enshrined in the European Human Rights Convention. According to the parliamentarians, “it is crucially important for a detainee to have access to a lawyer from the outset of the detention in order to guarantee that the rights of defence are practical and effective”.

See: Report adopted (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (13.12.16)

GREECE: Serious problems in Greek asylum system persist, says NGO report

The Greek NGO AITIMA has published a mid-term report setting out the findings of its project monitoring the Greek asylum procedure, noting a number of serious issues including limited access to the procedure, delays in processing, lack of information for applicants and the "legally debatable establishment of Independent Appeals Committees.

See: Pilot Project on monitoring the asylum procedure (September 2016-March 2017) (pdf)

EU law-making: trilogues under fire for lack of transparency

"The EU is pushing more of its lawmaking out of public view.

Its stated motivation is to prove to an increasingly Euroskeptical public that it can move quickly when it needs to. Critics say it’s dumping oil on the Euroskeptic pyre.

Next week, the heads of the Commission, Parliament and the sitting president of the Council are expected to embrace “priority treatment” for about 40 draft laws, including the end to mobile roaming fees in Europe and eurozone budget reform.

In effect, that means legislators, under pressure from EU leaders, will be forced to agree on the most sensitive issues in closed-door “trilogues,” confirming a recent trend that has seen less public scrutiny of far-reaching legislation in parliamentary committees and the plenary.

Concerned about how key negotiations are being pushed into the shadows, transparency campaigners and corporate lobbyists have formed an unlikely coalition in response."

See: Where European democracy goes to die (Politico, link)

EU: Skype, WhatsApp face increased privacy regulation in Europe (PC World, link)

"Skype, WhatsApp and services like them could soon fall under the same European Union regulations as telephone calls and SMS text messages, a leaked legislative draft reveals.

Although Skype and WhatsApp can both be used to make voice calls and send text messages, they don't fall under existing EU communications privacy legislation because they are data services that run over the top of an internet connection, rather than native functions of the network like phone calls and SMS.

But legislators want to bring such "over-the-top" services within the scope of rules protecting users' privacy with their proposed Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulation, a draft of which was obtained by Politico on Monday. The regulation is intended to replace the 2002 ePrivacy Directive."

See also: WhatsApp, Skype set to come under new EU security rules: draft (Reuters, link)

The draft of the proposed Regulation was originally published by Politico (link to pdf). Statewatch is hosting a copy with searchable text: Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the respect for private life and personal data in electronic communications and repealing Directive 2002/58/EC ('Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulation' (7.5MB, pdf)

CoE-POLAND-USA: Rendition: ministers want diplomatic assurances from USA on death penalty and Polish investigation stepped up

Representatives of the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe have called upon the USA to provide assurances to the Polish authorities that Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who the European Court of Human Rights ruled was subjected to rendition, secret detention and interrogation by Poland through its collaboration with the CIA, will not be subjected to the death penalty. He is currently held in Guantánamo Bay.

SCANDINAVIA: The Failure of The State And The Rise Of Fascism (Novara, link):

"Portrayed as dreamlands of equality and peaceful social democracy, the Nordic countries in recent years have seen a steep rise of the far right, both in party politics and on the streets. This is not as paradoxical as it sounds: the friendly welfare state has long hidden the ugly face of nationalism, opening a breeding ground for far-right ideas of the deserving ‘us’ and the undeserving ‘other’. To tackle fascism, we must question the very unit of the nation state and the ideology it was built on."

UK-IRELAND-EU: House of Lords: UK government must ensure relations with Ireland are not "collateral damage" of Brexit

A new report by the UK House of Lords European Union Committee (pdf) sets out the implications of Brexit for relations between the UK and Ireland, noting that they are "more profound than they are for any other Member State" and lead to "a series of complex and interconnected questions," which the Committee suggests are best resolved through "a unique solution... for the EU institutions and Member States to invite the UK and Irish Governments to negotiate a draft bilateral agreement, involving and incorporating the views and interests of the Northern Ireland Executive, while keeping the EU itself fully informed." The Committee warns that "UK-Irish relations and stability in Northern Ireland must not be allowed to become ‘collateral damage’ of Brexit."

EU: Commission to "facilitate discussion on biometric identifiers in population registers"

A European Commission Action Plan on dealing with travel document fraud, published on 8 December, includes a whole host of commitments from the Commission, including: "facilitate discussion on biometric identifiers (facial image and/or fingerprints) in population registers, in full respect of EU data protection law and taking account of the national context in Member States."

No more EU deals to keep migrants out (EurActiv, link):

"It has only been a year since 193 of the world’s leaders agreed on the 2030 Agenda, where they agreed to facilitate safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility and ensure full respect for human rights and humane treatment of migrants regardless of migration status, write Jessica Poh-Janrell and Andrea Stocchiero of CONCORD.

Since then, more people than ever have been forced to leave their homes. At the same time, right-wing anti-immigration rhetoric has whipped up xenophobia and fear of refugees and migrants, for example ahead of the Brexit vote and now in the run up to the French election. With a world in turmoil, it is more important than ever that the leaders of Europe step up and show the world their real commitment to achieve the 2030 Agenda and to stand up for international solidarity and everyone’s human rights.

The [European Council] summit this week (15 December) is the opportunity for our leaders to change direction, but instead the EU, together with its member states, are making one deal after another with countries many of whom have very bad human rights records. The intentions are all the same: keeping people out or sending them back. Along the way, peoples’ human rights and right to protection are being ignored."

EU: European Council, 15 December 2016: latest text of the draft conclusions

Statewatch has obtained the text of a copy of the draft conclusions being put together for the European Council meeting on 15 December, covering amongst other things: migration (reiteration of commitment to the EU-Turkey deal, need for financing for the Valletta Action Plan); internal security ("the European Council calls for effective cooperation with electronic service providers based inside and outside the EU," for example internet service providers and telecoms firms); external security and defence (the EU needs its own military forces); "economic and social development and youth"; Ukraine; and Syria.

UK: Far right group National Action to be banned under terror laws (BBC News, link):

"A British neo-Nazi movement is to become the first far-right group to be banned under terrorism laws in the UK.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said National Action was "a racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic organisation".

An order laid in Parliament to proscribe the group - making it a criminal offence to join or support it - is due to come into effect on Friday.

It will be the first time a group engaged in extreme right-wing activities has been proscribed.

Under the Terrorism Act 2000, the home secretary can proscribe an organisation if it is believed to be "concerned in terrorism"."

UK: What Do the Screws Want? (Jacobin, link):

"Of all the frontlines of struggle embroiling the British government, few would have expected prisons to be among the most urgent. A recent illegal strike by ten thousand prison officers took the government by surprise, and more could be coming. The government rumors that it was considering deploying armed forces to take control of the prisons.

This isn’t the first time such action has been taken. The New Labour government had to fight prison officers over pay back in 2007, and faced a similarly truculent workforce. But this time, it is a matter of workplace safety. It’s the soaring rate of violence in prisons, with a number of recent riots, that has officers demanding government action. Overcrowding and understaffing is blamed, by prison officers and the former chief inspector of prisons. The current chief inspector found conditions in Bedford Prison, before the riots, to fall well below “basic levels of decency.”"

Bargaining Chips No More: The Status of EU and UK citizens after Brexit (EU Law Analysis, link):

"Today, the results of an inquiry into the status of EU citizens in the UK after Brexit, set up by the NGO British Future, are released. I was a member of the panel of that inquiry, which sought to bring together supporters of both the Leave and the Remain side, from different political parties and from outside Parliament as well.

This blog post has three related objectives: a) to set out and defend the main recommendations of the inquiry regarding EU citizens in the UK after Brexit; b) to set out my own recommendations for what should happen to UK citizens in the EU after Brexit; and c) to discuss the idea (floated recently) of ‘associate citizenship’ of the EU for UK citizens after Brexit. Just to make clear, the second and third points were outside the remit of the British Future inquiry – but I think it makes sense to look at those issues in parallel today. Obviously, the comments here on the latter two points are mine alone, and my views on them are not necessarily shared by any of the other people on the panel."

AUSTRALIA: Mining company Rio Tinto wants to use drones and "smart infrastructure" to monitor workers

"In the remote Australian outback, multinational companies are embarking on a secretive new kind of mining expedition.

Rio Tinto has long mined the Pilbara region of Western Australia for iron ore riches but now the company is seeking to extract a rather different kind of resource – its own employees, for data.

Thousands of Rio Tinto personnel live in company-run mining camps, spending not just work hours but leisure and home time in space controlled by their employer – which in this emerging era of smart infrastructure presents the opportunity to hoover up every detail of their lives."

See: Revealed: Rio Tinto's plan to use drones to monitor workers' private lives (The Guardian, link)

EU: Police crackdowns on people smuggling networks continue

Europol and Eurojust have again been advertising their efforts to dismantle networks of migrant smugglers across the continent.

See: Europol supports dismantlement of Somali migrant smuggling network in France and the Netherlands (Europol, link):

"On 6 – 7 December 2016, law enforcement and judicial authorities from France and the Netherlands, supported on-the-spot by Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre, took action against an organised crime network suspected of having smuggled some 500 migrants from Somalia to different destination countries in the EU along secondary routes. 8 suspects were arrested in France (Strasbourg, Modane, Paris) and one in the Netherlands (Geleen) as a result of this joint action.

This criminal syndicate, composed of Somali nationals residing mainly in France and Italy, was responsible for smuggling Somali migrants from Italy to different EU Member States, such as Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany and Northern European countries. Some of these migrants were smuggled out of Italy by means of car, train or coach, while others were smuggled directly from Africa to Europe by flights transiting via Asian countries using fake travel documents."

On the same operation: Somali migrant smuggling network in Europe dismantled (Eurojust, link)

And: Suspected criminal network smuggling Iranian migrants into the UK tackled (Europol, link): "On 8 December, 24 people were arrested as several homes were searched in Greece as part of a joint investigation by Greece and the UK, supported by Europol."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (12.12.16)

EU-Mali readmission agreement marks first such deal with an African state

The EU has signed its first readmission agreement with an African state, after a deal was reached with the Malian government in Bamako on Sunday 11 December aimed at combating "the root causes of irregular migration" and "to encourage the return of Malian migrants from Europe". The deal marks a complete U-turn by the Malian government, which EU officials noted in February this year was "opposed to readmission agreements."

EU met only 5% of target for relocating refugees from Greece and Italy (The Guardian, link):

"European countries have relocated only one in 20 of the refugees they promised to shelter, amid continuing deep divisions over how the continent should help growing numbers fleeing war and persecution.

More than a year after the EU promised to disperse 160,000 refugees from overstretched Greece and Italy to other EU countries, only 8,162 people have been found a home, figures from the European commission show.

Although the EU has met only 5% of its goal, Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European commissioner in charge of migration, declared it was possible to hit the target by September 2017."

Commission: over €1 billion of EU-Turkey deal money contracted for 34 projects

In an answer to a parliamentary question the European Commission has said that €1.252 billion of the €3 billion promised under the EU-Turkey deal has so far been contracted for 34 different projects on humanitarian aid, education and healthcare for refugees.

A further €60 million has been provided for "food, healthcare and accommodation for migrants returning from Greece to Turkey," and €20 million has gone towards a "contract to strengthen the capacity of the Turkish Coast Guard."

EU: New Asylum Agency must ensure EU countries respect common asylum rules, say MEPs (press release, pdf):

"The committee backed a proposal to strengthen the current European Asylum Support Office (EASO), which will become the EU Agency for Asylum, and provide it with the means to assist member states in crisis situations, but also to monitor how national authorities apply EU legislation.

The new Agency will assess all aspects of the common asylum policy, such as reception conditions, respect for procedural safeguards, the right to legal aid and access to interpretation, and adequacy of financial and human resources. To do so, it will be entitled to make unannounced on-site visits to EU countries.

It would rely on an “asylum intervention pool”, formed by no less than 500 experts contributed by member states, who could be deployed in cases where the asylum and reception systems of an EU country are subject to “disproportionate pressure”."

EU: Visa suspension mechanism: Parliament and Council negotiators strike a deal (press release, pdf):

"According to the deal, visa requirements may be reintroduced for a non-EU country in one or more of the following cases:

a substantial increase in the number of nationals of that country refused entry or
irregularly staying in the EU territory,
a substantial increase in unfounded asylum applications, or a lack of cooperation on readmissions (returns of migrants).

Visas could also be reintroduced in the event of threats to public policy or internal security related to nationals of the third country concerned."

UK: White paper on prison safety unlikely to lead to prison safety

"Prison Safety and Reform was published in November 2016. Covering 61 often-repetitive, meagre pages, the White Paper theoretically provides a blueprint for the ‘biggest overhaul of our prisons in a generation’.

The prison crisis provides the incendiary context for White Paper. However, prisons have been in crisis since the end of the eighteenth century. The result has been an endless cycle of crisis/reform/crisis, which has been toxic for prisoners."

See: Prison safety and reform: When? (CCJS, link) and the Ministry of Justice white paper: Prison Safety and Reform (pdf)

SPAIN: Implementation of EU Directive leads to "groundbreaking decision" on secrecy in court proceedings

The implementation in Spain of the 2012 EU Directive on the right to information in criminal proceedings has led to the Madrid Court of Appeals deciding to overturn long-standing provisions in Spanish law permitting documents to be withheld from the defence.

Over 900,000 Passed Through Serbia Since Refugee Crisis Began - Foreign Minister (Sputnik News, link):

"Over 900,000 migrants and refugees made their way through the Serbian territory since the beginning of the refugee crisis, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said Thursday.

He stressed that the state of affairs represented a heavy burden for Serbia."

Pale Shelter: Refugees in the UK (one small window, link):

"For those who manage to survive war, persecution, violence, gross human rights violations including torture and rape, who endure the perilous journey across deserts, mountains and seas, arrival on the shores of this green and pleasant land is often the start of a new ordeal, one that can be as humiliating and dehumanising as other parts of the refugee’s trajectory.

Like many other European countries, Britain’s twenty first century attitude to its obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention has largely hinged on a policy of deterrence through the criminalisation of asylum seekers and refugees. Many asylum seekers arrive without identification documents to prove who they claim to be and are then subject to language testing for determination of origin which guesses their nationality based on language skills; a wrong assessment sees the asylum claim rejected. For many more others, their first glimpse of England is from within an immigration removal centre run by the prison service."

SPAIN: Initially offensive: student fined for the letters on his sweater

Following a protest in Bilbao on 26 October a 19-year-old carpentry student was walking to meet his friends at a bar when he was issued with a fine of up to €600 by the police for wearing a sweater with the letters 'ACAB' written across the front.

Two officers from the regional police force of the Basque Country, the Ertzaintza, argued that the letters - which are often used to represent the phrase "all cops are bastards" - were proof of a "lack of respect" towards state security officials, an act that since 1 July 2015 has been an administrative offence in Spain.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (10-11.12.16)

UK: Police: Orgreave files 'to be made public next year' (Guardian, link):

"Home Office files concerning events at the “battle of Orgreave” are due to be released next year among a cache of records relating to the 1984 miners’ strike.

The home secretary, Amber Rudd, told the home affairs select committee the documents would be among 30 files planned for release to the National Archives.

The subject titles suggest at least one file relates to the clash between police and strikers in South Yorkshire that became one of the bloodiest events of the dispute. A further three files are said to be under consideration for release by the Home Office."

GREECE: Turkish Coast Guard in Greek waters?

"Just witnessed the Turkish Coast Guard picking up a boat full of refugees in Greek waters! While the Greek coast guard and frontex watched!! Is this a new European Commission policy to allow the Turkish authorities jurisdiction in Greek waters as a solution to the refugee situation?!!!"

See: Philippa Kempson (Efalou, northern Lesvos) on Facebook (link)

Council of Europe: Turkey had good reasons to declare the state of emergency but went too far with the emergency measures: Venice Commission (link):

"Venice, 09.12.2016 – An opinion adopted today by the Council of Europe’s constitutional law experts – the Venice Commission – concludes that Turkish authorities had been confronted “with a dangerous armed conspiracy” and had “good reasons” to declare the state of emergency, but that measures taken by the Government went beyond what is permitted by the Turkish Constitution and by international law.


Even though provisions of the Turkish Constitution on the declaration of the state of emergency appear to be in line with common European standards, the Government implemented its emergency powers through ad hominem legislation. Thus, “tens of thousands of public servants” were dismissed on the basis of lists appended to emergency decree laws. Those collective dismissals did not refer to verifiable evidence, related to each individual case. According to the opinion, the speed with which those lists appeared implies that the collective dismissals were not accompanied even by a minimum of procedural safeguards. Those dismissals apparently are not subject to judicial review by the ordinary courts, or, at least, the accessibility of the judicial review remains a matter of controversy. Such method of purging the State apparatus creates a strong appearance of arbitrariness."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7-9.12.16)

Council of Europe: Parliamentary Assembly: Concern about the situation of the media and journalists in many European countries (link):

"The PACE Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media today highlighted the large number of cases of threats and attacks against journalists and media outlets reported to the Council of Europe through the Platform it set up in 2015 to promote the protection of journalism and the safety of journalists.

The report prepared by Volodymyr Ariev (Ukraine, EPP/CD) and adopted by the committee indicates that from April 2015 to November 2016, the Platform recorded 230 alerts in 31 member states – 95 of those alerts had received an official reply by the State concerned and 23 cases had been resolved, while a total of 16 journalists had been killed over the period."

See the report: Attacks against journalists and media freedom in Europe (pdf)

Job vacancy at the Institute of Race Relations (link):

"Are you passionate about racial justice?

Do you have good organisational and administrative skills? Would you relish the opportunity of working in a small team to help develop one of the UK’s leading educational charities creating and disseminating analyses and information? If so, we might have just the job for you. The IRR is looking for a dynamic person to help in the day-to-day running of its office and the promotion of its research and educational materials. Academic qualifications are not as important to us as initiative, organisational skills, administrative know-how, and a collective approach to working."

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council,8-9 December, Brussels, 2016: documentation

- Final press release (pdf)
- Main "B" Points Agenda (for discussion, pdf)
- "A" Points: legislative Agenda (adopted without discussion, pdf)
- "A" Points: non-legislative Agenda (adopted without discussion, pdf) and Additional matters (pdf)
- Background Note (pdf)

Human rights “under unprecedented pressure” world-wide (Scoop,link):

"“In some parts of Europe, and in the United States, anti-foreigner rhetoric full of unbridled vitriol and hatred, is proliferating to a frightening degree, and is increasingly unchallenged. The rhetoric of fascism is no longer confined to a secret underworld of fascists, meeting in ill-lit clubs or on the ‘Deep Net.’ It is becoming part of normal daily discourse.” "

NSA-GCHQ: American and British Spy Agencies Targeted In-Flight Mobile Phone Use (The Intercept, link):

"the emergence of a new field of espionage that had not yet been explored: the interception of data from phone calls made on board civil aircraft. In a separate internal document from a year earlier, the NSA reported that 50,000 people had already used their mobile phones in flight as of December 2008, a figure that rose to 100,000 by February 2009. The NSA attributed the increase to “more planes equipped with in-flight GSM capability, less fear that a plane will crash due to making/receiving a call, not as expensive as people thought.” The sky seemed to belong to the agency."

See: Five Eyes: In-flight GSM (pdf)

Europe can no longer pretend to respect human rights (IRR News, link) by Frances Webber:

"Anger is building at the return of refugees from Europe to war zones and the EU’s deals with dictators and torturers to prevent refugees from leaving their own countries. In the first of two articles, Frances Webber looks at the EU’s deals with Afghanistan and Turkey. The second article will examine the deals with African states."

EU: European Commission: Dublin returns to Greece to start for new arrivals from 15 March 2017

- Commission reports on progress made under the European Agenda on Migration (press release, pdf):

"The Commission is today reporting on progress made in the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and on the EU's relocation and resettlement schemes...

"The Commission therefore recommends that transfers to Greece should be resumed gradually, on the basis of individual assurances from the Greek authorities for each returnee, guaranteeing they will be received in dignity. In order to avoid that an unsustainable burden is placed on Greece, the resumption of transfers will not be applied retroactively and will only concern asylum applicants who have entered Greece irregularly from 15 March 2017 onwards or for whom Greece is responsible from 15 March 2017 under other Dublin criteria." [emphasis added]

- Eighth report on relocation and resettlement (COM 791,pdf)
- Annex 1: Greece: Relocations in EU (pdf)
- Annex 2: Italy: Relocations in EU (pdf)
- Annex 3: Resettlement (pdf)
- Turkey progress report (COM 792, pdf)
- State of play: Relocation and resettlement (pdf)

Amnesty International lambasts ‘hypocritical Brussels’ as pressure mounts on Greece (Malta Today, link):

"The European Commission wants Greece to start receiving back migrants from other member states whilst speeding up migrant returns to Turkey....

Amnesty International has lambasted the “hypocritical” position adopted today by the European Commission who wants Greece to start receiving migrants from other member states, in a bid to stop asylum seekers from moving north.

The European Commission today published a fourth report on the progress made in the implementation of the EU-Turkey deal and on relocation and resettlement schemes....

“It seems that for the European Commission all roads for refugees lead to Greece. It is outrageously hypocritical of the European Commission to insinuate that Greece alone is to blame for dire conditions, when the overcrowding and insecure climate on the Greek islands are for the most part caused by the EU-Turkey deal, and compounded by the lack of solidarity from other EU countries to relocate people,” Iverna McGowan, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institution’s Office, said. "

EU: Agreement between Council and Parliament on mandatory database checks for all at borders

- Regulation amending Regulation (EU) 2016/399 as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders (pdf) including:

"verification that a person enjoying the right of free movement under Union law is not considered to be a threat to the internal security, public policy, international relations of any of the Member States or to public health, including by consulting the […] Schengen Information System and other relevant Union […] databases. […] This is without prejudice to the consultation of national and Interpol databases.."

- Letter from Council to Parliament (pdf) The Civil Liberties Committee in the parliament is expected to adopt today (8 December)

The EU needs to make itself battle-ready (EUobserver, link):

"A week before Christmas, EU heads of state and government are set to discuss security and defence at their regular European Council meeting in Brussels. It may not be a typical pre-holiday topic, but its urgency makes us focus on it even in the time of family gatherings and last-minute Christmas shopping.

After all, this should be a time of peace, which is exactly the objective of the upcoming discussion."

EU: DNA profiles to be included in the Schengen Information System?

Following the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels this year and last, EU and national officials began another round of discussions on how to increase information-sharing amongst law enforcement authorities across the continent. Amongst a flurry of proposals included in a new "roadmap" on information exchange is a suggestion to include DNA profiles in the Schengen Information System, the EU-wide policing and migration database.

The roadmap was drawn up in May 2015 within the Council and received political approval from national justice and interior ministers at the JHA Council meeting in June 2016 (pdf): 'Theme 3' is "optimal use of European information systems", under which can be found item 11: "enhance the effectiveness of using the Schengen Information System (SIS)."

See: Roadmap to enhance information exchange and information management including interoperability solutions in the Justice and Home Affairs area (LIMITE doc no: 13554-REV-1-16, pdf)

EU: Counter-Terrorism Coordinator report: options for dealing with "foreign terrorist fighter returnees"

"Threat and risk analysis: Latest figures suggests that of the total number of European FTFs, around 15-20 % have died in theatre, 30-35 % have already returned and 50 % are still in Syria and Iraq (ie between 2.000 and 2.500 Europeans).... There are largely two categories of returnees: those in the majority that will drift back, and those who will be sent back on specific missions, which are of most concern.....

Given the changed Daesh communication focus in the West (no longer on building the Caliphate, territory, call not to travel to Syria or Iraq but instead staying home and committing attacks in the West), using returnees in our communication strategy to discourage future jihadi travellers from going to Daesh held territories may be less effective."

See: Council of the European Union: From: EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator: Subject: Foreign terrorist fighter returnees: Policy options (LIMITE doc no: 14799-16, pdf)

The report comes at the same time as one by Europol on a related topic: Islamic State changing terror tactics to maintain threat in Europe (Europol press release, link); full report: Changes in modus operandi of Islamic State (IS) revisisted (pdf)

EU: Fundamental Rights Agency: Scope of the principle of non-refoulement in contemporary border management: evolving areas of law (pdf):

"EU Member States’ contemporary border control activities raise difficult questions related to their non-refoulement obligations, calling for more legal clarity. This report scrutinises specific scenarios – within third countries, on the high seas, and at the EU’s borders – regarding which views differ as to whether they constitute refoulement. The analysis presents each scenario and the applicable legal framework, briefly sketches current practices, and outlines arguments that speak against, and in favour of, finding a violation of non-refoulement."

Europol joins forces with counter-terrorism experts to undermine online terrorist propaganda (link):

"1814 pieces of terrorist and violent extremist online content have been assessed for the purpose of referral to online platforms during a two-day concerted action coordinated by Europol, in collaboration with representatives from dedicated units in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Romania. The processed content was in nine different languages and hosted by 35 online platforms. The final removal of the referred material is a voluntary activity by the concerned service providers, taken in reference to their own terms and conditions."

See also: Statewatch Analysis: Policing the internet: from terrorism and extremism to “content used by traffickers to attract migrants and refugees (pdf)

UK to double armed drone fleet in deal with US Predator manufacturer (Guardian, link):

"Defense secretary Michael Fallon on Saturday announced a $125m (£100m) development deal with US arms manufacturer General Atomics under which the UK fleet of armed drones will double.

The maker of the Predator and Reaper drones used widely by the US will provide 10 drones to the Royal Air Force, bringing the fleet from 10 to 20, an increase announced last year by then prime minister David Cameron, as part of the strategic defence review.

The deal will also boost research into imagery and datalinks – communications from the ground with the drones."

And see: an earlier official document when the deal remained officially provisional: USA-United Kingdom – Certifiable Predator B Remotely Piloted Aircraft (pdf)

Council of Europe, OSCE voice serious concerns over changes to Polish laws on freedom of assembly (New Europe, link):

"European human rights officials have expressed serious concern over legal amendments passed last week in the Polish Sejm that could undermine the right to freedom of assembly if they become law.

Even inside Poland, the country’s ombudsman and human rights campaigners have criticised the bill, saying it will undermine Poles’ right to freedom of assembly by making it much harder to stage counter-demonstrations to rallies sponsored by the state or the church.

Lawmakers of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) approved the bill on its first reading, part of a wave of legislation the government says aims to strengthen traditional Catholic and national values.

The bill, which still has to clear a few hurdles before becoming law, would also transfer to government officials many powers now enjoyed by local governments on deciding whether to allow a public assembly to go ahead."

Commission 'shockingly passive' on Lithuania gay rights (EUobserver, link):

"A group of MEPs has accused the European Commission of ignoring clear discrimination against gay people in Lithuania.

The commission told Lithuanian activists last month that it would take no action over a 2013 law that claims to protect children from propaganda, but has been used to ban all kinds of material and crack down on LGBT groups.

The response angered a group of MEPs, who wrote to commissioners Guenther Oettinger and Frans Timmermans, in charge of audiovisual policy and fundamental rights respectively, to deplore that they shied away from acting on "a clear case of discrimination"."

EU-USA: Joint EU-U.S. statement following the EU-U.S. Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial meeting of 5 December 2016 (press release, pdf)


"Both sides confirmed the completion of their internal approval procedures for the EU-U.S. Data Protection "Umbrella" Agreement, and welcomed this important step for strengthening data protection in law enforcement cooperation across the Atlantic. On that basis, the U.S Attorney General will now make the necessary designations under the Judicial Redress Act to allow the swift entry into force of the Agreement....[and]

The European Union stressed the importance of achieving full visa reciprocity with the United States as soon as possible." [emphasis added]

EU: ID and police checks await all who enter and leave the EU (EUobserver, link):

"Everyone, including EU nationals, will have their IDs checked against police databases under new draft rules every time they enter or exit the EU.

Backed by MEP negotiators and their EU state counterparts on Monday (5 December), the move is the latest in a series of security measures aimed at catching people who fought alongside the Islamic State militant group.

But the plan, which amends the Schengen Borders Code, is also designed to provide the police much greater insight into people suspected of other crimes. " [emphasis added]

EU offers Denmark partial access to Europol database - sources (Reuters, link):

"The European Commission has offered Denmark partial access to Europol's database, following the Nordic country's vote to leave the cross-border police organization, government sources said on Tuesday.

In a precursor to the much more dramatic vote by the British in June to leave the European Union entirely, Danes last December rejected a government proposal for new laws needed to keep the country inside the European police agency."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (6.12.16)

EU: The implementation of the hotspots in Italy and Greece: a study (press release, link):

"“This is an experiment, a pilot model of registration and identification at the points of arrival that selects between people seeking asylum and people to be returned. Yet the hotspots currently apply practices and standards that are inadequate and disrespect fundamental rights” says Aspasia Papadopoulou Senior Policy Officer at the European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE). “What we are witnessing in Italy and Greece is the consequence of an EU pressure shifting responsibilities to the national level,” says Aspasia Papadopoulou. “If the hotspots are to become permanent then we would have to see fundamental improvements including standards and safeguards – there is a need for independent monitoring by international organisations, NGOs, or bodies like the Ombudsman.”

The study is part of a project led by the Dutch Council for Refugees, in partnership with ECRE, the Italian Council for Refugees (CIR), the Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) and ProAsyl that aims to support monitoring of hotspots in Greece and Italy and the strengthening of legal assistance provision by local NGOs."

And see: Report (pdf)

EU: Council of the European Union: Policies in the making: Exit-Entry System, EU Agency for Asylum & EURODAC and LEA access

- EES: Proposal for a Regulation amending Regulation (EU) No 2016/399 as regards the use of the Entry/Exit System - Preparation of further steps (LIMITE-14700-16, 157 pages, pdf): Council developing its position prior to trilogue meeting with the European Parliament:

"a number of issues remains outstanding at this stage, including in particular:

- the calculation of the duration of stay in Member States not yet fully applying the Schengen acquis in full (Art. 3a);
- the conditions to grant access to the EES to law enforcement authorities (Chapter IV);
- the interaction between the EES and bilateral agreements (Art. 54) and
- the obligation/possibility of stamping travel documents in case of technical failure of the EES (Art. 19)"

"the new addition are highlighted in bold/underline. The changes already included in the previous version of the documents are highlighted in underline. Deletions of parts of the Commission proposals are marked as […].

- EU Agency for Asylum: Proposal for a Regulation on the European Union Agency for Asylum and repealing Regulation (EU) No 439/2010 (LIMITE doc no 14855-16, 93 pages, pdf): 136 Footnotes and a number of Member State positions:

"The objective of the Union's policy on asylum is to develop and establish a Common European Asylum System (CEAS), consistent with the values and humanitarian tradition of the European Union and governed by the principle of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility."

"Presidency compromise suggestions to be discussed at the meeting of JHA Counsellors on 1 December 2016 are indicated with bold and […] as compared to the most recent version of the relevant provisions."

- EURODAC and LEA access: Proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of 'Eurodac' for the comparison of fingerprints... and on requests for the comparison with Eurodac data by Member States' law enforcement authorities and Europol for law enforcement purposes (LIMITE doc no 14710, 94 pages, pdf): Including Member States' positions: And includes: It's OK to use coercion on vulnerable persons and minors "if permitted under national law":

"Third-country nationals or stateless persons who are deemed to be vulnerable persons and minors should not be coerced into giving their fingerprints or facial image, except in duly justified circumstances that are permitted under national law.... [emphasis added]

Member States shall […] introduce administrative sanctions including the possibility to use means of coercion, in accordance with their national law, for non-compliance with providing biometric data...""

"The changes in the text of the draft Regulation as compared to the Commission proposal are indicated in bold and deleted text is marked in […], while amendments with regard to the latest text examined by the JHA Counsellors4 is indicated by underlining the insertion."

CoE: National human rights structures: protecting human rights while countering terrorism (Press release, link):

"states’ duty to prevent and combat terrorism should in no way be fulfilled at the expense of human rights standards and the common values in which European societies are grounded. This would be a mistake, since laws and policies that are human rights compliant preserve the values the terrorists are trying to destroy, weaken the pull of radicalisation, and strengthen the public’s confidence in the rule of law and democratic institutions.

In this context, national human rights structures (NHRSs) have a vital role to play."

And see: Counter-terrorism operations in the South East of Turkey caused widespread human rights violations (Press release, link):

"“Numerous human rights of a very large civilian population in South-Eastern Turkey have been violated as a result of curfews imposed and anti-terrorism operations conducted there since August 2015. I call on Turkey to stop using curfews in such a manner, investigate all allegations of human rights violations by state agents in an effective manner and put in place comprehensive schemes for redress and compensation. Failure to do so will further aggravate the initial violations” said Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, in a Memorandum published today. The Memorandum presents the findings of a visit that he conducted to Turkey (Istanbul, Diyarbakir and Ankara) from 6 to 14 April 2016, and a subsequent visit to Ankara from 27 to 29 September 2016."

See: Memorandum on the Human Rights Implications of Anti-Terrorism Operations in South-Eastern Turkey (pdf)

U.N. refugee chief warns EU against carrot-and-stick approach to migration (Reuters, link):

"Linking aid for countries in the Middle East and Africa to how they manage migration can create dangerous precedents, the United Nations top refugee official warned the European Union on Monday.

Overwhelmed by the arrival of more than a million refugees and migrants in 2015, the EU has tightened its external borders and sought to strike deals with countries along main migration routes to contain the flow of people...

"Support to host and transit countries should be driven by solidarity, not strict conditionality," Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, told a seminar in Brussels. "

UNHCR calls for stronger EU action on refugees (link):

"In a paper presented to the European Union (EU) today, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, called for a far-reaching reform of Europe’s global engagement with refugees, including the European asylum system. UNHCR called on Europe to offer more strategic and targeted support to countries of origin, asylum and transit of refugees, to review its contingency preparations to respond to large refugee and migrant arrivals, and to put in place a more efficient and better managed asylum system. It also asked for greater investment by EU Member States in the integration of refugees, including housing, employment and language training.

“Last year, Europe failed to implement a collective, managed response to the challenges posed by the arrival of over a million refugees and migrants,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi. “This resulted in scenes of chaos at borders, leading to a breakdown in the public’s trust in the capacity of governments to manage the situation and playing into the hands of those who wanted to turn refugees into scapegoats."

See: UNHCR report (pdf) and see: UNHRC says be prepared for more refugees (Antigua Observer, link)

Sweden needs 64,000 immigrants a year to sustain growth (New Europe, link):

"Sweden needs 64,000 immigrants a year to bridge labour market shortages according to the director of the National Employment Agency.

Speaking to the Swedish Television, director Mikael Sjöberg, said the country is lacking chefs, engineers, bus and train drivers. Failure to maintain a steady supply of immigrants could “stunt growth” Sjöberg said.

Public and private employers struggle to find employees with the necessary skills to cover shortages in the labour market. Other measures considered are encouraging young people to enroll in vocational courses and elderly workers to delay retirement. But, replenishing the labour market with immigrants is an important “part of the puzzle.”"

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (2-5.12.16)

EU: European Parliament: civil liberties committee approves Europol-Georgia cooperation agreement

The European Parliament's civil liberties committee has given its consent to an agreement that would allow the exchange of information, including personal data, between EU policing agency Europol and Georgia. The Parliament has previously called on the Council not to authorise negotiations with Georgia and a number of other countries, but in any case parliamentary consent is not required for the approval of the agreement, an issue raised in the committee's report.

EU: Military might: Commission proposes €5.5 billion per year for defence research and equipment

The European Commission proposed on Wednesday (30 November) a €5.5 billion 'European Defence Fund' that would provide EU funds of €500 million per year for military research and development and €5 billion per year "from national contributions" for "Member States to develop certain assets together to reduce their costs." The Commission wants the EU to "demonstrate that it can act as a provider of hard as well as soft security".

UK: PSPO Watch: Hometown Zeros (Liberty, link):

"Enfield Council intends to implement a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) – those clumsy and dangerous tools that have let local authorities ban any activity they reckon has a “detrimental effect” on others’ quality of life.

This power is so vague it can turn pretty much any innocent activity into a crime overnight.

In Hillingdon it’s a criminal act to gather in groups of just two or more unless you’re waiting for a bus or going to or from a parked vehicle.

Salford City and Kettering Borough Councils have banned swearing – while it’s now a crime in both Bassetlaw and Lancaster to do anything annoying. Anyone who breaches a PSPO faces an on-the-spot fine of up to £100 – or a criminal record and a £1,000 penalty if they don't pay.

So you get an idea of how you might find yourself a whole lot less free if your council is the latest to catch the PSPO bug.

Enfield Council has consulted the public on plans to ban 18 separate activities – or has it? Depends how you define “public”. And “consultation”."

EU: New centralised sources of data on migration launched

"On 2 December 2016, the European Commission's Knowledge Centre on Migration and Demography (KCMD) launched two new tools: the Migration Data Catalogue and the Dynamic Data Hub. These tools centralise migration related data, to better understand migration flows, trends and their impact on societies across the EU."

Press release: Migration Data Catalogue and Dynamic Data Hub – EU migration data at a glance (EU Science Hub, link)

See: the Migration Data Catalogue (link), which "will classify and organise datasets in a series of predefined domains, including legal migration and integration, asylum-seekers and refugees, irregular migration and returns, as well as unaccompanied minors"; and the Dynamic Data Hub (link), which "will validate information, highlight limitations and put migration data into context."

EU: The free space for data monopolies in Europe is shrinking (OpenDemocracy, link):

"[The] conditions created by a clash of jurisdictions, legal enforcements, and in particular slow political adaption to the fast-paced evolution of the Internet and new technologies, meant that the new primarily US-based tech companies grew on the European market. To an extend that they today not only hold the biggest troves of data on European citizens, but also occupy the seats as some of the biggest data business monopolies not only in Europe, but worldwide. This is a problem. Because in a time where data 'makes the world go round', sitting on too much of it with too much control, is a great risk to not only citizen rights but also equal market conditions."


"The previously free space in the EU for US tech giants is shrinking by the hour. In addition to the discussions revolving around the new EU data protection regulation, several significant lawsuits prompting large-scale media debate and political discourse have in particular focused on US tech companies' treatment of European law and European legislators' enforcement of it (or lack thereof). The Max Schrems cases against Facebook, the EU Court of Justice infamous Right to Be Forgotten ruling - just to mention a few. Key questions have been raised as to the legal jurisdiction of these tech companies' practices. Which rules and laws should they follow, particularly in relation to the collection and processing of data?"

UK: The seeds of post-Brexit racial violence lie in government policy (OpenDemocracy, link):

"Almost every utterance shouted alongside a specific racist attack was already a dominant ideological policy position. The hostile environment that Theresa May promised the country in 2012 has certainly become one on the ground.

Now, five months after the referendum, many organisations are in the business of explaining the horrific level of post-Brexit racial violence witnessed in the UK. That there was such a rise in violence is agreed on by everyone from newly created online forums like #postrefracism to police chiefs and home secretary Amber Rudd. What there is less agreement on is how to analyse and therefore combat such racism.


Individuals may have wielded the stick, politicians may have added during the Brexit debate to the toxic brew. Both have to be seen in a larger and historical context according to the radical think tank, the Institute of Race Relations. First, the IRR, which has collated a database of racial attacks in the UK since 2010, points out that though such violence indeed ‘spiked’ during the summer, it should not be seen as something new. Second, it warns against treating such violence as merely a law and order problem. Such a view in fact depoliticises the issue and lets the government off the hook."

See: RACIAL VIOLENCE and the BREXIT STATE (pdf) by Jon Burnett (Institute of Race Relations)

UK: “Remove first, appeal later” provisions in force from today: new guidance published (Free Movement, link):

"The power under the Immigration Act 2016 to certify any human rights appeal, not just deportation appeals, for “remove first, appeal later” treatment came into force today, 1 December 2016...

Guidance has today been updated on how the power should be exercised by immigration officials: Section 94B of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002. Amongst the general updating, a new part has been added on the “phased implementation for non deport cases”."

Under-representation of women in political life undermines democratic processes in the Eastern Partnership countries: new study (Council of Europe, link):

"Democracy should apply to all women and men equally, concluded participants at an international conference that took place in Kyiv on 1 December, where a new regional study on the situation in Eastern Partnership countries was presented.

The event focused on women’s political representation in the Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus).. The new study reveals that in all the countries surveyed women are less likely to run for political office and to be elected both to national parliaments and to local government bodies. The study shows that women hold fewer than 20% of seats in parliament in all the countries with the exception of Belarus, where 30% of parliamentary seats are held by women. Stereotypical views and assumptions about the role of women in society are among major barriers to women’s political representation in all the countries examined. The study contains country-specific and general recommendations to politicians, parliamentarians and governments."

See the report: Council of Europe regional study: Women's political representation in the Eastern Partnership countries (pdf)

EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council, 8-9 December 2016: background briefing

Thursday: National justice ministers to discuss progress with European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), fight against fraud regarding EU finance, "criminal justice in cyberspace" (which concerns encryption, evidence held in the "cloud", international police and judicial cooperation).

Friday: Home affairs ministers will examine Entry/Exit System progress, migration ("focusing on the situation on the ground and the implementation of measures already agreed"), terrorism and organised crime (including foreign fighters and the French-German proposal on "cooperation between law enforcement agencies and electronic communications service providers"), common European asylum system.

See: Council of the European Union, JUSTICE and HOME AFFAIRS COUNCIL Thursday 8 and Friday 9 December in Brussels (pdf)

ISRAEL: All Israelis Must Join Biometric Database, Minister Says (Hareetz, link):

"All residents of Israel are going to have to join the biometric database, which will include high-resolution facial photos and the fingerprints from both index fingers, Interior Minister Arye Dery announced on Thursday.

Individuals will be able to choose whether to save their fingerprints in the database or only on their identity cards and passports. If they refuse to save their prints in the database, however, identifying documents currently valid for 10 years will be valid only for five.

To date, biometric passports or IDs have been issued to approximately one million Israelis, who agreed to join the database on a volunteer basis.

The Knesset will have to pass legislation to make the database permanent. A memorandum with an amendment was distributed by the Interior Ministry and the public has 10 days to comment. The ministry expects the legislation to be passed by March."

EU-USA: Transatlantic law enforcement data deal gets go-ahead from European Parliament

The European Parliament has voted strongly in favour of the EU-US 'Umbrella Agreement' that, in theory, provides for the protection of personal data exchanged for law enforcement purposes. Attempts left and liberal MEPs to have the text rejected and to seek the European Court of Justice's opinion on its compatibility with the Charter of Fundamental Rights were rejected. The agreement is unlikely to provide what it promises.

EU: Major transnational operation against "mobile organised crime groups"

"Between 20 and 26 November 2016, law enforcement agencies from 10 European countries (the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Romania, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Ireland, Germany and Greece), coordinated by the National Police of the Netherlands and with the support of Europol, conducted the operation TRIVIUM 7 targeting Mobile Organised Crime Groups (MOCGs) and their infrastructure across the EU."

UK: Snoopers’ Charter: why journalists (and the rest of us) should be afraid (The Conversation, link):

"The “Snooper’s Charter mark two” – or Investigatory Powers Act – which has recently passed into law demonstrates again how successful Islamist terrorism has been in changing British society into a secret state.

With the passing of the Act we have taken a step into a new world of permanent surveillance that was not deemed necessary in 30 years of “The Troubles”, four decades of the Cold War or during two world wars. Home secretary Amber Rudd’s comment that it is “world-leading legislation” is worthy of Orwell’s doublethink. One might ask, what part of the world are we leading exactly: North Korea, Cuba, China and Saudi Arabia?"

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (30.11.16-1.12.16)

UK: RACIAL VIOLENCE and the BREXIT STATE (pdf) by Jon Burnett (Institute of Race Relations)

In a pioneering study published today, the IRR takes a fresh look at the nature of racial hate crimes since the referendum. Through a detailed examination of cases on the IRR’s unique database it establishes a link between the language and behaviour of perpetrators of such violence, the rhetoric and policy pronouncements of politicians over recent years and the stigmatising frameworks of the media.

‘It is convenient to condemn the “spike” in violence this summer, in which at least one person lost their life, as the acts of a thuggish minority. But an examination of over one hundred cases shows a link between the language and behaviour of perpetrators and the rhetoric and policy pronouncement of politicians’, said IRR researcher, Dr. Jon Burnett.

StopTheDeal: We are helping to take the shameful EU-Turkey refugee deal to court, in a bid to save the life of one man and improve the lives of millions (Diem25, link):

"This is a shameful deal that sends a frightful message to the rest of the world: that men, women and children who managed to survive a perilous journey and the horrors of war, persecution and extraordinary vulnerability are not welcome in Europe. Furthermore, the deal has also led these people to take other, even more dangerous routes to our shores.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. As DiEM25 we are standing behind a unique legal action that could blow this deal up, potentially improving the lives of millions of people seeking to come to Europe in desperate need. How? By helping to save a man’s life.

A team of volunteers in Spain and Greece, headed by the eminent Spanish former anti-corruption prosecutor Carlos Jiménez Villarejo, is working to save Shabbir. On November 29, 2016, they filed a legal action to the European Court of Justice. It’s aim: to annul the EU-Turkey Agreement and prevent Shabbir and thousands of others from being deported.

But if this case is successful, it will do much more than save a man’s life: it could shatter the EU-Turkey deal once and for all."

EU-USA "UMBRELLA" Agreement Two votes added on seeking ECJ opinion on EU-US data protection deal (Press release, pdf)

"President Schulz announced that two motions for resolutions, seeking a European Court of Justice opinion on the compatibility with the Treaties of the EU-US deal on protecting personal data exchanged for law enforcement purposes, will be put to the vote on Thursday, immediately before the vote on the recommendation drafted by Jan Philipp Albrecht."

EU: Secret Europol data on terrorism investigations leaked

"The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group (ALDE) in the European Parliament has called on Europol director, Rob Wainwright, and Sir Julian King, the Security Union Commissioner, to clarify the facts related to a leaked report.

According to an ALDE press release, the leak relates to a breach in Europol’s security rules. The Dutch investigative television show Zembla reported that a Europol staffer took dossiers home and copied them to a backup drive that was linked to the internet.

“This is extremely shocking. Europol was aware of this security incident since September, yet its director decided not to inform the parliament during a joint meeting of the European parliament and the national parliaments on Europol scrutiny just two days ago,” Sophie in’t Veld, ALDE spokesperson for data protection, said."

See: ALDE on Europol report leak (New Europe, link)

Plus: ALDE press release (link) and: Secret Europol terror data found online (BBC News, link)

EU: European Council: 15-16 December 2016: Draft guidelines for conclusions (LIMITE doc no: 13936-16, pdf)

On migration: "assess and reaffirm its commitment to the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement and assess progress on the compacts with the five selected African countries in terms of arrivals and returns," and

"assess progress on the reform of the Common European Asylum System, including on how to apply the principles of responsibility and solidarity in the future, on the basis of a report from the Presidency."

Regarding Members States the Council has to try and appease those against "responsibility and solidarity in the future", while hoping the European Parliament will unblock discussions on the Qualifications Regulation, the Reception Conditions Directive and the Procedures Regulation and the Resettlement file.

On internal security, review progress on:

"systematic checks against the relevant databases, that must be interconnected, of all persons crossing the Union's external borders, including nationals from EU Member States; the entry/exit system; the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS); combatting terrorism; firearms; anti-money laundering; Passenger Name Record (PNR); and enhancing effective cooperation with electronic service providers." [emphasis added]

EU: Frontex takes first step towards creating European coast guard (pdf):

"Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, has called on EU member states and Schengen Associated Countries to provide officers for the newly adopted European Coast Guard Functions Officer profile, paving the way for the deployment of multi-national crews in the agency’s maritime operations."

GERMANY: New German bill to ‘massively’ limit privacy rights (New Europe, link):

"Data protection groups in Germany have criticised the government’s new draft law that will no longer give citizens the right to know what data about them is being collected.

The draft law, which was released by the German union for data protection (DVD), revealed that the interior ministry was proposing to drastically limit the powers of Germany’s data protection authorities, banning them from investigating suspected breaches of people’s medical and legal records, according to Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster.

Thilo Weichert, former data protection commissioner for the state of Schleswig-Holstein and now DVD board member, condemned the interior ministry’s plans as a “massive” erosion of privacy in Germany. “The limitation of data protection controls in the medical field, which was a focal point of the [data protection] authorities up until now, is simply a disaster,” Weichert said in a statement, adding that the ministry’s bill was “further proof” that “data protection is not currently seen as relevant by the government."

EU: Rights groups expose flaws in EU counterterrorism directive (euractiv, link)

"The European institutions reached an agreement yesterday (30 November) on a directive that is aimed at better equipping the EU with instruments to counter terrorism. But civil rights groups warned that it risks undermining fundamental freedoms.

A political agreement on the directive was reached by EU government representatives in the European Council (COREPER) yesterday, following negotiations with the European Parliament. Both the Council and Parliament are expected to sign off on the 37-page text without changes later this month."

Also: EU terror law risks making protest a crime (euobserver, link); "A new anti-terror law backed by EU states contains rules that could be used to crack down on civil dissent. Endorsed at the political level on Tuesday (30 November) by most EU states, the directive on combating terrorism has riled human rights activists for its vague notions of terrorism. The bill borrows heavily from recent laws in France that allow the authorities to tell internet firms, without any judicial oversight, to block sites that "glorify" terrorism. "

And see background: Directive on combating terrorism (Statewatch, SEMDOC)

Hungary: Shameful misuse of terrorism provisions as man involved in border clash jailed for 10 years (AI, link):

"In response to the sentencing of Ahmed H, to 10 years in prison on terrorism charges for his involvement in clashes with Hungarian border guards at a Serbia-Hungary border crossing last year, Gauri van Gulik, Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Directorwho attended the court hearing said:

“This verdict is based on a blatant misuse of terrorism provisions and reflects a disturbing confluence of two dangerous trends: the misuse of terrorism-related offenses and the appalling treatment of refugees and migrants.”

Throwing stones and entering a country irregularly does not constitute terrorism and cannot justify this draconian ruling"

EU-TURKEY-SYRIA: Border between Syria and Turkey – the death zone

"The truth is that the crisis has shifted. The wall, the German chancellor Angela Merkel under no circumstances wanted to see at the German border, was erected at the border to Syria by the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A concrete wall, several hundred kilometers long, three meters high is keeping migrants away. People are not dying in the Aegean sea anymore, as the number of boat crossings to Greece declined after the deal. Now, they die at the Turkish-Syrian border."

30 December 2016

Greece: Two arrested and charged with "facilitating illegal immigration" for refugee transport effort denouncing EU policies

Two political activists from the Basque Country have been detained in Greece and charged with "facilitating illegal immigration" after attempting to transport eight refugees out of the country, in an "initiative of solidarity in denunciation of unjust European migration policies and in defence of human rights."


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