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    ISSN 1756-851X
    17 November 2019
 

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EU: Croatia: violence at the border no barrier to Schengen accession

The European Commission’s decision to give the green light to Croatia’s membership of the Schengen area has been condemned by human rights groups who say that it ignores “illegal and violent push-backs of migrants” at Croatia’s borders that violate EU and international law.

THE ATLAS OF MIGRATION IN EUROPE: A critical geography of migration policies (Migreurop and Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung, Brussels, pdf):

Presentation evening: 11 November 2010: 19.00 - 21.00: Rm G3, main College Building, 10 Thornhaugh Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1H OXG.

EU-USA: Meeting on 6 November 2019 discussed agreement on exchange of electronic evidence - including Life imprisonment without review, death penalty and freedom of speech

The European Commission produced:
Note ahead of the second negotiating round for an EU-US Agreement on cross-border access to electronic evidence, 6 November 2019 (Restricted document 13369-19, pdf):

The key issues discussed included the "categories of data" to be covered including "both content and non-content data" and the "types of offences and criminal proceedings, including both pre-trial and trial state"

EU PNR: The Belgian Constitutional Court refers ten preliminary questions to the Court of Justice concerning the obligation to transfer passenger information (pdf)

"The Belgian Constitutional Court refers ten preliminary questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union in light of the review of the law requiring transportation providers and travel operators to communicate passenger information.

The Court inquires whether the system of the PNR Directive, transposed by the contested law, is compatible with the right to respect for private life and the protection of personal data. In addition, the Court asks several questions regarding the interpretation of the Directive.

Lastly, the Court refers a question to the Court of Justice on the applicability of the API Directive, also transposed in Belgian law, that requires air carriers to communicate certain passenger data to combat illegal immigration and to improve border control. With respect to flights within the European Union, the question arises as to its compatibility with the free movement of persons."

UK: Joint Committee on Human Rights: Right to privacy “may exist on paper” – but not in online “Wild West”, says JCHR (Press release, pdf):

"- Individuals are giving away “vast amounts of data” and are expected to be risk-aware when using web based services

“The consent model is broken”: Committee calls for robust regulation to govern how personal data is used and stringent enforcement of the rules

- “Deeply troubling” evidence that data being used to discriminate in job and housing ads online

The Committee today reports serious grounds for concern about the nature of the “consent” people provide when giving over an extraordinary range of information about themselves, to be used for commercial gain by private companies."

See: Report (pdf)

CJEU: Advocate General Sharpston: the Court should rule that, by refusing to comply with the provisional and time-limited mechanism for the mandatory relocation of applicants for international protection, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have failed to fulfil their obligations under EU law (pdf)

"These Member States cannot invoke their responsibilities with regard to the maintenance of law and order and the safeguarding of internal security in order to disapply a valid EU measure with which they disagree."

Greece must urgently transfer asylum seekers from the Aegean islands and improve living conditions in reception facilities (CoE, link):

"“The situation of migrants, including asylum seekers, in the Greek Aegean islands has dramatically worsened over the past 12 months. Urgent measures are needed to address the desperate conditions in which thousands of human beings are living,” said today the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, at the end of a five-day visit to Greece during which she visited reception facilities in Lesvos, Samos, and Corinth.

The Commissioner is appalled by the unhygienic conditions in which migrants are kept in the islands."

European Data Protection Supervisor: Facial recognition: A solution in search of a problem? (EDPS, link):

"It is undeniable that facial recognition, the biometric application used to identify or verify a person’s identity, has become increasingly present in many aspects of daily life. It is used for ‘tagging’ people on social media platforms and to unlock smart phones. In China it is used for airport check-in, for monitoring the attentiveness of pupils at school and even for dispensing paper in public latrines.

In the general absence of specific regulation so far, private companies and public bodies in both democracies and authoritarian states have been adopting this technology for a variety of uses."

And see: Sweden authorises the use of facial recognition technology by the police (neweurope.eu, link)

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (22-28.10.19) including:

  • EU centrists ally with far right on migrant rescues
  • Greek asylum proposal "blatantly undermines" rights
  • UNHCR probes Libya-Malta interception in migrant rescue

Europe quietly becoming a spy superpower (euobserver, link):

"Momentous changes are underway in European intelligence, propelled by new technology and a political push for integration. And without finally having an open and inclusive public conversation about them, we risk losing the democratic legitimacy of these transformations.

The evolution of government surveillance is bold, multi-faceted, and confusing. Agencies across the continent are deploying an avalanche of new technologies, notably machine learning, to both advance new capabilities such as biometric surveillance and master long-standing challenges like information overload."

EU: PNR: Council wants to "explore the necessity and feasibility" of the surveillance and profiling of all forms of mass transport

A draft set of Council conclusions calls for "a thorough impact assessment conducted by the European Commission on widening the scope of PNR Directive to other travelling forms than air traffic."

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (15-21.10.19) including:

  • Croatia’s Schengen Accession: Reinforcing Legal Red Lines Not Borders
  • Reports on the situation in the Aegean, Lesvos and the Balkans
  • A flimsy raft, more than 100 souls, and three teenage heroes - or are they pirates?

21 Thoughts and Questions about the UK-US CLOUD Act Agreement: (and an Explanation of How it Works – with Charts) (European Law Blog, link):

"The Need to Unpack the Long-Awaited UK-US Data Sharing Agreement (pdf)

After four years of negotiations surrounded by secrecy, the United Kingdom and the United States finally released on October 7, 2019, the text of their Data-sharing agreement aiming to facilitate the cross-border access to electronic data for the purpose of countering serious crime. This long-awaited agreement is the first of the executive agreements envisioned by the CLOUD Act."

Samos mayor warns island at breaking point after migrant camp fire (ekathimerini.com, link):

"The mayor of East Samos has warned that a fire at its Vathy migrant reception and processing center earlier his week has brought the eastern Aegean island to breaking point as hundreds of people are having to sleep in the streets and public squares.

“The island has become destabilized,” Mayor Giorgos Stantzos told a morning talk show on Antenna TV on Thursday, days after a fire and a riot at the facility. “We are counting down for something bad to happen.”"

And see: Fire in Samos Refugee Camp (Pressenza, link):

Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe (1-14.10.19) including:

  • European States urged to do more to protect and support child refugees and migrants
  • New Frontex Regulation: corrected version of the text
  • Hungary: Refusing journalist access to a reception centre for asylum-seekers was in breach of the European Convention
  • Italy's new migrant decree promises repatriations in 4 months
  • Fatal fire inside Moria refugee camp

Catalonia leaders jailed for sedition by Spanish court

"Spain's Supreme Court has sentenced nine Catalan separatist leaders to between nine and 13 years in prison for sedition over their role in an independence referendum in 2017."

Greece calls for more NATO ships to patrol Aegean Sea following Turkey’s Syria offensive (euractiv.link):

"Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis called on NATO to increase naval patrols in the Aegean Sea on Thursday (10 October) after a threat by Turkey to open Europe’s doors to more than three million migrants.

“I asked the Secretary General and the Alliance, and member states to strengthen their presence…in the Aegean Sea with more ships,” Mitsotakis said in a press conference after talks with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg in Athens yesterday.(...)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier threatened that Ankara would allow millions of refugees to head to Europe if the bloc criticised Turkey’s ongoing military offensive in Syria."

EU: Joint press release of the Palermo Charter Platform Process on the results of the EU Summit of Home Affairs Ministers on 23 September in Malta and the consequent negotiations on 8 October in Luxembourg (pdf):

"The Malta Agreement ("agreement on temporary reception and distribution mechanism") is not a hard-won solution, but nothing more than a partial emergency relief. We, European civil society initiatives and networks, mayors of European cities and search and rescue non-governmental organizations, demand a real solution that is adequate to the scale of the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean Sea.

See: The "temporary solidarity mechanism" on relocation of people rescued at sea - what does it say?

Commission starts negotiations with the USA on exchange of e-evidence

- talks start even though EU legislation not yet adopted
- CJEU questions the legality of proposed EU measure
- Commission says deal must include content and non-content data

On 25 September 2019 the Commission started negotiations with the USA on: E-evidence - Negotiations for EU-U.S. Agreement on cross-border access to evidence - report on state-of-play (RESTRICTED doc no: 12318-19, pdf)

ECHR: Refusing journalist access to a reception centre for asylum-seekers was in breach of the European Convention (pdf):

"In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Szurovecz v. Hungary (application no. 15428/16) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

- a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights. The case concerned media access to reception facilities for asylum-seekers.

The applicant in the case, a journalist for an Internet news portal, complained about the authorities’ refusal of his request to carry out interviews and take photographs at the Debrecen Reception Centre, thus preventing him from reporting on the living conditions there."

See: Judgment (pdf)

EU: JHA Council, 7-8 October

The Justice and Home Affairs Council is meeting in Luxembourg on 7 and 8 October. Issues under discussion include e-evidence negotiations between the EU and the USA; EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights; right-wing extremism and terrorism; and the implementation of the EU's plans to interconnect its migration and policing databases. Council documents published here indicate that this latter project is running into trouble.


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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