Round-up of news stories from across the EU 9.5.16

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EU-US: TTIP trade deal under threat after Germany claims US not making 'any serious concessions' (The Independent, link): "The controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has been thrown into further doubt after a senior German minister claimed the United States was not willing to make "any serious concessions".


Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt is the latest senior European politician to criticise the American approach to the negotiations, which Barack Obama had hoped would be completed this year.

Mr Schmidt told German newspaper Der Spiegel: "So far at least they have hardly made any serious concessions.""

EU: Companies gun-shy on privacy shield (Politico, link): "Negotiators on both sides of the Atlantic are rushing to get the so-called privacy shield up and running next month. Businesses, on the other hand, are in no hurry.

Companies have been in legal limbo since October, when the European Court of Justice struck down the international agreement protecting data transfers — from family photos to payroll information. As regulators polish a new pact, companies are gun-shy about signing on because privacy advocates will almost certainly ask for another judicial ruling.

That risk is not worth it for many. They can use clumsy alternatives in the interim. What’s at stake is public confidence. In the age of mass surveillance and increasing police powers, Europeans, in particular, fear what happens to their data when it moves to the U.S.

POLITICO interviewed more than two dozen executives, lawyers and trade groups about the risks and potential of the privacy shield. Companies want an international agreement for cost and convenience and an end to the current piecemeal approach to handling data transfers."

EU: Crunch time for net neutrality rules, says EU digital rights warrior (Ars Technica, link): "The next few months will be a critical time for net neutrality in the EU, according to the chief of Europe's digital rights' lobby group.

Joe McNamee, executive director of EDRi, told Ars that it was crucial to engage people about the issue over the course of the next few months. Draft net neutrality guidelines are due to be presented by the European Commission on June 6, followed by a consultation for 20 working days on those proposed rules.

"The next four months are equivalent to the moment when the big successes were achieved in the US and India," he said."

EU: Joint action to tackle West African human trafficking networks (Europol press release, link): "The third pan-European operation to combat the trafficking of human beings from West Africa was carried out by law enforcement authorities in sixteen European countries on the 28th of April and lasted until early morning of the following day. The operation was aimed at targeting Nigerian criminal networks operating across Europe for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

According to provisional figures, more than 1000 persons, mainly women from West African countries were checked. Over 400 potential victims of trafficking (mostly women from Nigeria) were identified. Via cross-checks at the Europol headquarters, more than 30 persons were found to have links to criminal structures. As a result of the day of action, new investigations have been launched in several participating countries with Europol's support."

EU: Press release: New report details extent of Israel lobby in Brussels’ connections to US Islamophobia industry and illegal settlements(EuroPal Forum, link): "A new report on The Israel lobby and the European Union will be released on 9 May (Brussels) and 13 May (London) 2016. Researched and written by Public Interest Investigations/Spinwatch and published by EuroPal Forum. The report reveals the extent to which noted American funders and proponents of the Islamophobia industry in the United States and Israel’s illegal settlement project in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem are also financing the expanding Israel lobby in Brussels."

EU transparency register inaccurate, say campaigners (The Parliament, link): "76 per cent of the entries at the top of the EU's voluntary lobby register are flawed, according to new research.

The study, by LobbyFacts, a lobby data website, suggests that out of the 51 organisations declaring the highest lobby spend "only 12 are likely to, in fact, be among the biggest lobbyists."

"There is only one reliable-looking entry among the 30 entries declaring the highest lobby spend," says LobbyFacts.

The group produced the list by cross-referencing declared expenditure with the number of meetings held with senior staff at the Commission and the numbers of European Parliament passes held.

It says these are good indicators of an organisation's actual lobby activity."

Israel brings fresh charges against nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu (The Guardian, link): "Israeli prosecutors charged nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu on Sunday with violating the terms of his release, more than a decade after he completed an 18-year jail term.

Upon his release in 2004, Vanunu was slapped with a series of restraining orders, some of which he has violated in recent years, the justice ministry said."

SCOTLAND: Sunday Mail spy scandal: Secret emails reveal senior officers targeting Sunday Mail journalists were warned their actions would be illegal (Daily Record, link): "A POLICE chief stands accused of misleading MSPs over his force’s hunt for Sunday Mail sources .

Acting Deputy Chief Constable Ruaraidh Nicolson’s testimony to Holyrood’s Justice Committee is under scrutiny after we obtained internal emails undermining his evidence.

Despite his repeated denials to MSPs, the emails reveal officers were given specific warnings that seizing phone data to find the source of our stories would be illegal but went ahead anyway.

One committee member said: “This is of concern. It must be investigated.”

Secret emails have revealed how senior officers behind the spying operation to find Sunday Mail sources were repeatedly warned they would be acting illegally."

UK: Cyber attacks: Two-thirds of big UK businesses targeted (BBC News, link): "Two-thirds of big UK businesses have been hit by a cyber attack in the past year, according to government research.

Most of the attacks involved viruses, spyware or malware, the Cyber Security Breaches Survey says. A quarter of large firms experiencing a cyber breach did so at least once a month.

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said it was "absolutely crucial businesses are secure and can protect data"."

UK: Human rights chief challenged over managing potential conflicts of interest (The Guardian, link): "The City lawyer appointed as the new head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) must “keep an eye” on any potential conflicts of interest, an influential parliamentary committee has said.

David Isaac was appointed as the head of the equality watchdog despite concerns expressed by MPs and peers about his plans to remain an equity partner at his law firm, which is involved in a range of government work."

UK: Inescapable realities that face UK prisons (The Guardian, link): "It is the fact of imprisonment that is the issue, and the nature and culture inside that needs to be changed, otherwise the deaths Michael Jacobson describes will continue irrespective of the issue of overcrowding. Overcrowding exacerbates the problem of self-inflicted deaths but it is not the cause. The shocking statistics to which he refers belie any suggestion that the government is successfully pursuing a reform agenda."

UK: Orgreave inquiry 'a must' after Hillsborough verdict says Vera Baird (Chronicle Live, link): "Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird has backed calls for a public inquiry into the Battle of Orgreave following the Hillsborough inquest result.

The violent clash between pickets and South Yorkshire Police in June 1984 resulted in 95 miners, including four from Durham, facing charges including riot.

These were dropped and compensation paid to the accused after the evidence was found to have been fabricated, as it had been by the same force five years later at Hillsborough.

Ms Baird QC, added her voice to those of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign (OTJC) and secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association, Dave Hopper."

UK: Crowdfunding campaign by the AIRE Centre (link): Stop deportation without fair trial: Judicial Review of Home Office Immigration Enforcement policy (Crowd Justice, link): "We are bringing a Judicial Review to challenge a joint Met Police and Home Office initiative, Operation Nexus, that allows people to be deported from the UK without any convictions.

Our case:

We believe that everyone has the right to a fair trial. But since the government launched Operation Nexus in 2012, many people living legally in this country have faced arbitrary deportation."

UK: Two prison officers 'seriously injured' in Wormwood Scrubs attack (BBC News, link): "Two prison officers were "seriously injured" and taken to hospital after an attack by an inmate at Wormwood Scrubs in west London.

The Prison Officers' Association (POA) said the officers were attacked while on duty on Sunday morning.

About 50 members of staff walked out for a day on Friday, citing health and safety concerns after recent attacks."

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