Launched in 1999 and updated regularly, Statewatch News includes our own reporting and writing as well as articles, announcements, documents and analyses from elsewhere on civil liberties, EU policies and state practices. You can receive updates in your inbox by signing up to our mailing list, or use our RSS feed to get instant alerts.

22 February 2022

EU-Africa: "Build bridges between people, not walls": civil society statement

A statement signed by networks and organisations representing hundreds of different groups, calling for a change in approach to EU-Africa relations and an end to the EU's "security approach to migration policies." The statement was published ahead of the European Union-African Union summit on 17 and 18 February.

22 February 2022

EU: Interoperability: Letter confirms delays in implementation of “complex and challenging” plan

It is unsurprising that the creation of the EU’s ‘Big Brother’ system is facing obstacles and delays – the same happened with the Schengen Information System a decade ago. What is striking is that the all these new legal instruments will be implemented and interconnected simultaneously without leaving room to test their reliability and performance.

21 February 2022

EU: Got a driving licence? You’re going in a police line-up

The Council of the EU is discussing plans to add driving licence data to an EU-wide network of police facial recognition systems, which would make the data of anyone who holds a driving licence available for cross-border searches by the police – in effect making them part of a “perpetual line-up”.

17 February 2022

EU: New Council structures for "confidence in the Schengen Area"

Earlier this month, EU interior ministers agreed to establish a new 'Schengen Council' that will oversee controls at the external borders of, and migration within, the Schengen Area. A discussion paper recently circulated by the French Presidency of the Council, published here, indicates that a range of new structures are likely to be set up as part of this process, including the role of "Schengen Coordinator" and a "solidarity platform" to allow "the mobilisation of Member States’ resources at the external border... complementary to the action of Frontex".

17 February 2022

EU: AI Act: Presidency compromise text on providers and users of high-risk AI systems

On 3 February, the French Presidency of the Council circulated a compromise text of Chapter 3 of the proposed Artificial Intelligence Act, covering with the obligations of users and providers of high-risk systems.

10 February 2022

Belgium: Parliamentary scrutiny not over for Frontex

European Border and Coast Guard Agency to face hearing in the Federal Parliament in Brussels, with representatives of civil society organisations, on 22 February.

02 February 2022

Appeal to the Italian Government, to UNHCR and IOM for the immediate withdrawal of the Italy-Libya Memorandum

An appeal signed by over 170 organisations and individuals, including Statewatch, calls on the Italian government to "immediately revoke the Memorandum of Understanding" signed with Libya, due to its facilitation of "models of exploitation and enslavement within which violence that constitutes crimes against humanity is systematically perpetrated." The appeal, organised by the Italian legal association ASGI, is open for further signatures.

01 February 2022

EU: Legislators must put the brakes on big data plans for Europol

A letter signed by 23 human rights organisations, including Statewatch, has called on MEPs and EU governments to remove proposed new legal powers that would give EU policing agency Europol a licence to process huge quantities of personal data, including on vast numbers of innocent people. Under current plans, existing practices that have been found to be illegal by the EU's data protection authority would be legalised.

28 January 2022

Resisting co-optation by Frontex: Italian academia and a Swiss referendum

There is growing awareness of and resistance to the role of EU border agency Frontex in human rights abuses, with a recent campaign at a university in Turin and a referendum in Switzerland seeking to halt different forms of cooperation with the agency.

28 January 2022

EU: Tracking the Pact: Eurodac, Asylum and Migration Management, emergency measures, external cooperation

Documents recently circulated with the Council of the EU on the proposals to expand Eurodac, for an Asylum and Migration Management Regulation, "emergency measures" for use at the Polish and Lithuanian borders with Belarus, and the latest European Commission update on "the main external migration dialogues and processes since 2019."

28 January 2022

EU: Artificial Intelligence Act: Council Presidency compromise on high-risk systems

Negotiations on the EU's proposed Artificial Intelligence Act are pressing ahead. On 13 January, the French Presidency of the Council circulated its proposed compromise on the sections of the proposal dealing with high-risk AI systems. We are making it publicly available here.

28 January 2022

ECHR: Strasbourg Court provides a strong standard on data retention and secret surveillance

In a judgment of 11th of January 2022, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Bulgaria’s legislation on secret surveillance is in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Strasbourg-based court was asked to evaluate Bulgaria’s surveillance law, as well as several articles in the country’s criminal code.

28 January 2022

EU: Mass travel surveillance: no problem, says court

The mass travel surveillance and profiling of air passengers carried out under the EU's Passenger Name Record Directive does not breach fundamental rights standards, says an opinion published yesterday by the Court of Justice in Strasbourg. Opinions precede the verdict of the court, and often set the tone for rulings.

27 January 2022

Biometrics and counter-terrorism: UN briefing shows global spread of technology

The UN's Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) recently published a briefing on the use of biometrics for counter-terrorism purposes, offering a snapshot of how states around the world are increasingly deploying biometric technology.

26 January 2022

EU: Artificial Intelligence Act: justice sector and high-risk systems; internal security; migration and borders; comments and presentations

We are publishing a number of documents concerning the proposed Artificial Intelligence Act, received in response to access to documents requests to the Council of the EU.

26 January 2022

German court to rule on UK spycop’s operations

A court is to examine the legality of outed spycop Mark Kennedy's activities in Germany, where he was present on multiple occasions between 2003 and 2009. The case concerns Kennedy's spying on Jason Kirkpatrick, as the latter coordinated press coverage around protests in 2007 and 2008.

26 January 2022

EU: Tracking the Pact: Border checks, funding, deportations and reception at the centre of the "gradual approach"

On 20 January the French Presidency of the Council circulated a paper examining "four issues to discuss further" relating to its "gradual approach" on the Pact on Migration and Asylum: external border checks and registration; financial and material support to member states with external borders; return and readmission policy; and reception and relocation. The paper highlights the need to "prevent the risk of absconding," which could be done by "increasing detention capacity".

25 January 2022

Europol: Council Presidency proposes workaround for illegal data processing

The French Presidency of the Council wants to enter secret "trilogue" negotiations with the European Parliament and European Commission on new rules governing Europol, the EU policing agency, with a text including a "workaround" to allow Europol to hold on to vast quantities of personal data that it is currently processing illegally.

20 January 2022

EU seeks global counter-terrorism partnership with Egypt

The EU is to put itself forward, alongside Egypt, for the joint presidency of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum, "an informal, apolitical, multilateral counterterrorism (CT) platform that contributes to the international architecture for addressing terrorism." The idea was first suggested by the European External Action Service and was recently approved by the Council despite Egypt's appalling record of human rights abuses in the name of counter-terrorism.

20 January 2022

UK can join EU surveillance schemes with no parliamentary scrutiny, warns new report

The UK can join intrusive EU surveillance schemes including a pan-European network of police facial recognition databases with no need for parliamentary debate or scrutiny, says a new report published today by Statewatch.


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