New interoperable, centralised, Justice & Home Affairs database: Adoption of Regulations a democratic shambles
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On 12 December 2017 the Commission put forward proposals on "interoperability" which will bring together into a central source data held in the Justice & Home Affairs databases on asylum, migration and borders for the first time.
The European Parliament and the Council got to work quickly, after all the proposals concerned migration and terrorism and only covered non-EU citizens so they were thought to be uncontentious. By June 2018 both the institutions - as co-legislators - were well advanced on agreeing their negotiating positions prior to starting trilogue talks.
The normal legislative procedure is that the Commission draws up new measures with Impact Assessments and the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament draw up their negotiating positions. They then meet - as co-legislators - in secret trilogues with the Commission in attendance. A "compromise" text is agreed and formally adopted by the parliament without changing a dot or comma.
However, on 13 June 2018 the Commission published amended versions of the key Regulations on interoperability - on borders and visas and a second on police and judicial cooperation, asylum and migration: Amended proposal for a Regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (borders and visa) (COM 478, 13 June 2018, pdf) and: Amended proposal for a Regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (police and judicial cooperation, asylum and migration) (COM 480, 13 June 2018, pdf).
However both the Council and the European Parliament had almost agreed their negotiating positions by this time. In the case of the Council COREPER had agreed a negotiating mandate: 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 Proposal for a Regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (police and judicial cooperation, asylum and migration) - Mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament (LIMITE doc no: 9670-18, dated 8 June 2018, pdf)
While the parliament had discussed: Draft report on the proposal for a regulation on establishing a framework for interoperability between EU information systems (borders and visa) and amending... (29 May 2018, pdf).
The two Amended Resolutions above from the Commission means both institutions have to consider the implications of the new versions.
But the saga gets worse.
The following paragraph on the five Regulations are still under discussion - been deleted:
"The other listed instruments (Regulations on ETIAS, Eurodac, SIS, ECRIS-TCN, eu-LISA) are currently under negotiation in the European Parliament and Council. For these instruments, it is therefore not possible to set out the necessary amendments at this stage. The Commission will present such amendments for each of these instruments within two weeks of a political agreement on the respective draft Regulations being reached."
In its place is inserted :
"In those cases where instruments were not yet formally adopted by the co-legislators the necessary changes are proposed to either the texts for which a political agreement has been endorsed by COREPER and LIBE Committee (this is the case for ETIAS), or the text for which a political agreement has been reached in trilogues (SIS and eu-LISA)."
So the co-legislators stop work now as they have nearly agreed their negotiating positions and wait for all five Regulations to be agreed in trilogues and adopted or start trilogue meetings on the two main Regulations and then revise their agreed "compromises" when the other underlying five measures have been agreed.
What is already a legislative mess get even worse. A further - crucial - amendment to the Eurodac Regulation has to be made as:
"The current architecture of the existing Eurodac system is technically unsuitable to become part of the interoperability of information systems given that it only stores biometric data and a reference number, but no other personal data (e.g. name(s), age, date of birth) that would allow for the detection of multiple identities linked to the same set of biometric data."
You would think this would have been spotted by the Commission months ago in time to go into the original proposed Regulations in 2017.
The amendments to the Eurodac Regulation will provide for:
" the storage of personal data such as the name(s), age, date of birth, nationality, and identity documents. These identity data are essential to ensure that Eurodac will be able to contribute to the objectives of interoperability and function with its technical framework."
Thus when the co-legislators agree the amendments to the Eurodac Regulation the Commission will produce more amendments to the two main Regulations.
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch Director, comments:
"The Commission and the Council are in a great rush to complete this complicated legislative process well before the European Parliament elections in May 2019. Unseemly haste is no way to ensure proper democratic scrutiny on measures that are highly debatable - it is a democratic shambles.
In the first stage - under discussion - the new centralised database will hold the biometrics and linked personal data on an estimated 218 million non-EU citizens, and in the second stage millions of EU citizens too."
The Point of no return: Interoperability morphs into the creation of a Big Brother centralised EU state database including all existing and future Justice and Home Affairs databases (Statewatch Analysis, May 2018)
Briefing: The interoperability of Justice and Home Affairs databases (Statewatch, March 2018)
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