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Council bypasses Parliament on Europol personal data exchange deals with Middle Eastern and North African states
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The views of the European Parliament on proposed agreements that would allow the exchange of personal and other data between Europol and eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa are to be ignored by the Council of the EU and the European Commission.
At the beginning of June the Council of the EU approved negotiating mandates that will be used by the European Commission in talks with Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey.
At a hearing in May a number of MEPs in the European Parliament's civil liberties committee (LIBE) noted their scepticism over the proposed agreements - particularly with less-than-democratic states such as Algeria, Egypt and Turkey - but despite their commitment to try to uphold fundamental rights standards in the proposed agreements, their views will be bypassed until the very last minute.
While the Council approved the negotiating mandates on 4 June, the LIBE committee will not vote on its position until 20 June - and the only role guaranteed to the European Parliament (by Article 218 of the Lisbon Treaty) concerns giving its consent for the Council to adopt the text that emerges from negotations.
On 16 April MEPs from the ALDE (liberals and democrats) group in the parliament asked the Commission:
"Will the Commission carry out impact assessments to examine in depth the risks posed by transfers of personal data to each third country as regards individuals rights to privacy and data protection, and also as regards other fundamental rights and freedoms protected by the Charter, so as to be able to define the precise safeguards necessary, as recommended by the EDPS? If not, why not?"
They are still awaiting a formal answer, but they can perhaps look to the press release issued by the Commission at the beginning of the month to find out why no such impact assessments have been undertaken - the agreements are "an important deliverable under the anti-terrorism package presented by the Commission in October 2017."
Warnings over proposed new Europol partners in Middle East and North Africa (14 May 2018)
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