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Justice and Home Affairs Council, 4-5 June 2018: documentation and coverage, including LIMITE documents on e-evidence and migration
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On the link between EU visa policy and readmission, "most delegations expressed a preference for the negative incentives approach" regarding non-EU countries' acceptance of deported individuals - just the stick, as opposed to a combination of the carrot and the stick - while the Council also adopted conclusions on the development of European Integrated Border Management (EUIBM) and the use of the Schengen Information System for tracking suspected foreign fighters.
Other issues under discussion included the reform of the Common European Asylum System, counter-terrorism (with representatives of the Counter-Terrorism Group, made up of Member States' intelligence agencies, present), and the Commission's proposals on "e-evidence" and the possibilities for real-time cross-border interception of data.
The Council also approved mandates for the Commission to undertake negotiations for agreements that will allow Europol to exchange personal data with eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa. See: Warnings over proposed new Europol partners in Middle East and North Africa (14 May 2018)
Outcome of the Council meeting: 3622nd Council meeting, Justice and Home Affairs (provisional version, 9680/18, pdf)
First day (4 June): Press release: Justice (pdf)
Agenda (legislative and non-legislative, doc 9371/18 REV 1, pdf) and "A" points, non-legislative (pdf)
Background Note (pdf)
Selected conclusions (as adopted)
Draft Council Conclusions on European Integrated Border Management (9000/18, pdf)
Draft Council Conclusions - Strengthening the cooperation and the use of the Schengen Information System (SIS) to deal with persons involved in terrorism or terrorism-related activities, including foreign terrorist fighters - Adoption (8974/18, pdf)
Migration: state of play (9286/18 REV 1, LIMITE, pdf): Includes:
"the Commission services and the Greek authorities agreed on a Financial Plan 2018. This plan ensures adequate support to reception facilities and related services for up to a total of 47 500 reception places."
E-evidence - a) Regulation on European Production and Preservation Orders for eevidence - b) Directive on legal representatives for gathering evidence = Policy debate (9117/18, LIMITE, pdf):
"4. While welcoming the proposals, a number of delegations regretted the limited scope of the proposed Regulation as it does not address direct access to e-evidence (direct access to data without the assistance of a third party (service provider) as an intermediary), or real-time interception of data. Many delegations felt that these two elements needed to be addressed as they respond to an operational need and thus need to be studied further and in much greater detail. However, opinions are divided as to whether this should be done with a view to including them in the current proposals or rather in parallel to the current proposals so as not to delay or prolong the current negotiations.
5. As regards real-time interception of data, the following considerations have been made so far:
this is a sensitive and intrusive measure,
this possibility is provided for in most national laws for domestic circumstances, in the Directive on the European Investigation Order and in the US CLOUD Act; any EU basis for real-time interception of data should be considered in this broader framework and take account of the need to equip Member States' authorities with the full range of tools to fight crime in the digital era [that are at the disposal of their US colleagues]. Moreover, Member States raised that the possibility to cover real-time interception in an Executive Agreement under the US CLOUD Act, on a reciprocal basis, should also be considered as part of the reflection on this measure."
See also: Council of the European Union: Asylum Procedures and Visas (5 May 2018)
EU ministers to debate compromise plan to break asylum impasse (EurActiv, link):
"EU interior ministers meet today (5 June) to try to break a two-year deadlock over reforming asylum rules with a deadline looming and pressure from Italys new populist leaders. The ministers will hear Bulgarias new compromise proposals on how to close an east-west rift over the reforms before a 28-29 June summit in Brussels."
EU asylum reform on life support (EUobserver, link):
"In April, a senior European Commission official told MEPs that the reform of the EU's so-called Dublin asylum law will not really work unless other outstanding legislative files are also taken care of.
Her warning appears to have fell flat, as EU interior ministers met in Brussels on Tuesday (5 June).
EU states have yet to reach a negotiating mandate on the asylum procedures regulation, one of seven EU legislative files which, as a whole, are to revamp the common European asylum system."
Justice ministers divided over proposal for police access to real-time data (EurActiv, link):
"National justice ministers are pushing to create new powers for law enforcement authorities to intercept communication data in real time as part of their criminal investigations.
A number of ministers suggested on Monday (4 June) that they will lobby for major changes to a European Commission proposal that would allow police to immediately monitor communication data from emails and messages on digital apps.
The Commission proposed in March to give law enforcement authorities the power to demand technology companies hand over their users data within ten days, or six hours in emergencies, in order to collect so-called e-evidence for investigations."
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