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    21 February 2018
 

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EU: Research agenda considers "non-lethal force by unmanned platforms" for civil and military use: The EU should prioritise research into the development of autonomous non-lethal weapons systems that can be used by both civilian and military agencies, according to a research agenda drawn up on the basis of input from EU institutions, Member States and "industry representatives".

According to the "civil-military research agenda for maritime security", which was compiled by the EU's Joint Research Centre at the end of last year, armaments may appear to be "a purely military topic" - but they are in fact something that "needs to be considered" by civilian institutions.

This is because to be "fully successful for both civil and military use," a "platform… should not exclude the option to host armed modules… systems used for guarding purposes in civil security may need to be capable to fend off attacks or disable intruders."

New Council returns and readmission strategy to target African countries

- By-passing formal readmission agreements: "a number of non-legally binding informal arrangements aimed at reinforcing cooperation in the area of return policy have been concluded with a number of relevant third countries."

- "The gap between the orders to leave the territory and the effectively implemented returns remains significant. In particular, cooperation with relevant African countries is still totally unsatisfactory."

- "Partnership Framework" in Africa: Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments: "This policy is best seen as asking EU Member States to use their histories of imperialism, oppression and exploitation to get African states to sort out the EU’s problem."

See: Bulgarian Council Presidency "Draft" Note to Member States on:
"Enhancing the returns from the European Union" (LIMITE doc no: 6047-18, pdf)

UN Human Rights Council : Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (pdf):

"This report addresses the human rights challenge of states of emergency in the context of countering terrorism. In particular, it identifies new post 9/11 emergency practices and their adverse effects. Emergencies are not a new phenomenon for states. Human rights law enables states to limit the full exercise of derogable human rights when governments are faced with exceptional challenges allowing for proportionate and necessary restrictions to human rights. However, emergency powers are a limited device."

ECRIS-TCN trilogue discussions: four-column document and Council position on EP amendments

Council of the European Union: ECRIS-TCN: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a centralised system for the identification of Member States holding conviction information on third country nationals and stateless persons (TCN) to supplement and support the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS-TCN system) and amending Regulation (EU No 1077/2011 - Four column table with Presidency suggestions/comments (LIMITE doc no: 5505-18,104 pages, pdf): Four column document setting out: Commission proposal, European Parliament amendments, Council general approach and "compromise" position."

And see: Questions concerning the EP amendments (LIMITE doc no: 5730-18, pdf):

"In view of the first trilogue, which is scheduled for Wednesday 7 March, the Presidency (PRES) would like to obtain a view of the positions of the Member States on the EP amendments. PRES would also very much appreciate Member States bringing forward arguments that could be used during the negotiations.(...)"

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (7.2.18-17.2.18)

Council of the European Union gets to work on the interoperability of EU databases

The Council of the European Union is working out its negotiating position - prior to trilogue discussions - on the: Proposal for a Regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (borders and visa) and amending Council Decision 2004/512/EC, Regulation (EC) No 767/2008, Council Decision 2008/633/JHA, Regulation (EU) 2016/399 and Regulation (EU) 2017/2226 - Examination of Presidency revised text of Articles 1-32 (LIMIITE doc no: 5758-18, pdf):

Five million euros for Europol’s “decryption platform” (link):

"The EU is looking to improve its capabilities to circumvent and crack encryptions. Member states are to invest in hardware and software with Europol coordinating these efforts."

European Ombudsman: Ombudsman says Member States must open up their opaque negotiations on EU laws

"The Ombudsman specifically criticises the Council’s failure systematically to record the identity of Member States taking positions during discussions on draft legislation, and the widespread practice of disproportionately marking documents as not for circulation, or LIMITE (,,,)

“It’s almost impossible for citizens to follow the legislative discussions in the Council between national government representatives. This ‘behind-closed-doors’ approach risks alienating citizens and feeding negative sentiment,” said Ms O’Reilly."

See: Recommendation of the European Ombudsman in case OI/2/2017/TE on the Transparency of the Council legislative process (link)

And see: Statewatch Observatory on FOI in the EU (from 1992 onwards)

Statewatch: Market Forces: the development of the EU security-industrial complex - Executive Summary now available in Spanish (pdf)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (8-12.2.18) including:

  • how the Hungarian government uses the law to repress civic spirit
  • how refugee and migrant solidarity groups across the EU are confronting the hostile environment

UK: Disquiet over discreet introduction of portable fingerprint scanners for police

"Police in the UK have started using a mobile fingerprinting system that lets them check the identity of an unknown person in less than a minute. Fingerprints collected on the street will be compared against the 12 million records contained in national criminal and immigration fingerprint databases and, if a match is found, will return the individual’s name, date of birth and other identifying information."

Cybercrime: UK response to Council of the EU's recommendations

The UK has set out its response to 12 recommendations on preventing and combatting cybercrime made in a September 2015 report by the Council of the EU, covering issues ranging from investigation and prosecution, to legislation and mutual legal assistance.

EU: ETIAS: Trilogue discussions on: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) and amending Regulations (EU) No 515/2014, (EU) 2016/399, (EU) 2016/794 and (EU) 2016/1624 (377 pages, pdf): State of play: Commission proposal, Council position, European Parliament position and "compromise" position.

See also::Four-column on the amendments to the Europol Regulation based on ETIAS (pdf)

EU: Greece - Chios: NGOs complaints about the treatment of refugees to the European Commission and its response

"After considering your response, we found your assessment of the current situation to be at considerable odds with the factual situation we daily witness on the ground"

NGOs on Chios complained to the European Commission about the treatment and conditions of refugees on the island: Complaints to the Commission signed by 11 NGOs (dated: 6 November 2017, pdf):

"We, the undersigned voluntary organisations, have been providing humanitarian aid on the Greek island of Chios for more than two years. We are writing to express our deepest concerns with regard to the situation of refugees on the island. Whilst the inhumane conditions on Chios for refugees is not a new issue, the situation has reached tipping point in recent weeks with an increase in arrivals, the withdrawal of most NGOs, and the closure of Souda camp in the city, which has left the EU hotspot Vial as the sole facility that accommodates refugees on the island."

Council of the European Union: Proposal for a Regulation establishing a common procedure for international protection in the Union and repealing Directive 2013/32/EU (LIMITE doc no: 5296-18,156 pages, pdf): The Council developing its negotiating position: 300 Footnotes with Member State positions.

Inside the EU’s flawed $200 million migration deal with Sudan (IRIN, link):

"As millions of dollars in EU funds flow into Sudan to stem African migration, asylum seekers say they are increasingly trapped, living in a perpetual state of fear and exploitation in this key transit country."

EU and military and security industry meet on future of EUROSUR (Stop Wapenhandel, link):

"On 6 and 7 February EU and member states' officials meet up with military and security companies for the 'Industry Day on Border Surveillance and Integrated Border Management' in Brussels. The aim of the day is to discuss the future development of EUROSUR, the EU border monitoring and surveillance system. This shows again the close connections between the EU and the European military and security industry and the influence the industry has on EU border policies.

EU: Centralised biometric database for convicted third-country nationals: European Parliament negotiating position published

On 25 January the European Parliament's civil liberties committee (LIBE) adopted its position on the proposed European Criminal Records Information System for Third-Country Nationals, which will be a centralised EU database holding identity data on non-EU nationals convicted in a Member State. This will allow national authorities to see which Member State(s) hold information on previous convictions of non-EU nationals, to whom they will then be able to make a request for that information.

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (29.1.18-4.2.18) including: The Afghan paradox – chaos and violence but safe for returns from Europe

UK planning to consolidate biometric databases, consider expanding Surveillance Camera Code application (Biometric Update, link): "The UK’s Home Office is planning to consolidate its IDENT 1 and IABS biometric databases into one central platform for fingerprint, DNA, and facial image data by spring of 2019, UKAuthority reports.

See: Surveillance Camera Commissioner: Annual Report 2016/17 (pdf): "The future capabilities of surveillance camera systems is a key theme within this report. The advent of integrated surveillance technologies (cameras, sensors, analytics, biometrics, smart systems) means that the ability of the State and indeed the commercial sector to physically and intrusively track the citizen in public spaces is well and truly upon us."


Top reports

See: Resources for researchers: Statewatch Analyses: 1999-ongoing

SECILE Project:

Borderline: The EU's New Border Surveillance Initiatives: Assessing the Costs and Fundamental Rights Implications of EUROSUR and the "Smart Borders" Proposals (pdf) A study by the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Written by Dr. Ben Hayes and Mathias Vermeulen: "Unable to tackle the root of the problem, the member states are upgrading the Union’s external borders. Such a highly parochial approach taken to a massive scale threatens some of the EU’s fundamental values - under the pretence that one’s own interests are at stake. Such an approach borders on the inhumane."

How the EU works and justice and home affairs decision-making (pdf)

Statewatch's 20th Anniversary Conference, June 2011: Statewatch conference speeches

TNI/Statewatch: Counter-terrorism, 'policy laundering' and the FATF - legalising surveillance, regulating civil society (pdf) by Ben Hayes

Statewatch publication: Guide to EU decision-making and justice and home affairs after the Lisbon Treaty (pdf) by Steve Peers, Professor of Law, University of Essex, with additional material by Tony Bunyan

Neoconopticon: the EU security-industrial complex (pdf) by Ben Hayes

The Shape of Things to Come (pdf) by Tony Bunyan


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