EU: Commission: new proposals on data collection and data exchange for "security and mobility"

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A new communication published by the European Commission continues to beat the drum for "stronger borders" and new and improved information systems and databases as ways to counter terrorism and irregular migration. Part-summary of existing initiatives, the document also sets out new plans including the announcement of a forthcoming proposal on a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), a "possible legislative initiative" on identity documents and residence cards, and greater powers and resources for Europol's European Counter-Terrorism Centre (ECTC). Significant efforts are already going into "enhancing information exchnange and information management" for security, justice and home affairs purposes.

See: European Commission, 'Enhancing security in a world of mobility: improved information exchange in the fight against terrorism and stronger external borders', COM(2016) 602 final, 14 September 2016 (pdf)


1. Introduction
2. Mobility and security through strong borders and effective information exchange
3. Key operational steps
3.1 Creating European integrated border management: The European Border and Coast Guard
3.2 Stronger controls through the Entry-Exit System (EES)
3.3 Checking visa-free travellers in advance: a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS)
3.4 Enhancing identity management and strengthening the fight against document fraud: Document Security
3.5 Developing the Security Union: Reinforcing Europol
4. Conclusion

On the subject of "reinforcing Europol", the Commission is keen to demolish the walls between security and intelligence agencies on the one hand, and law enforcement agencies on the other. The communication says:

"The Commission therefore encourages Member States to consider opening the Counter Terrorism Group, an intergovernmental intelligence forum, to interaction with law enforcement authorities cooperating within the framework of Europol (the European Counter-Terrorism Centre). With the objective of linking the dots, some form of information exchange hub could offer a platform where authorities obtaining information related to terrorism or other serious cross border crimes would share it with such law enforcement authorities.

Such an information exchange hub would not be a new feature across the European security landscape. A number of Member States have counter-terrorism coordination processes or "fusion centres" in place at national level for national security services and law enforcement authorities to come together. Such mechanisms vary however greatly in terms of institutional structure (specific entity or dedicated body) and mandate (from strategic threat assessment to operational coordination). Member States will be invited to share the successful experiences and lessons learnt at national level in establishing information exchange structures."

Action is also forthcoming on the security of national identity cards and residence documents:

"According to recent reports from Frontex, national ID cards with a lower security level were the most frequently detected false documents. As a follow-up to the 2013 EU Citizenship Report, the Commission launched a study at the end of 2015 to further assess how to address security concerns and the difficulties encountered by EU citizens regarding residence cards and identity documents. Following a public consultation, an impact assessment will explore options in the perspective of a possible legislative initiative. The Commission is also working on making Emergency Travel Documents more secure."

See: State of the Union 2016: Paving the way towards a genuine and effective Security Union – Questions & Answers (pdf)

Also: Council, Europol and "expert group" press on with plans to boost "information exchange and information management" (Statewatch News Online, 12 September 2016)

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