Privileged third country: EU security cooperation with Great Britain after Brexit

British authorities continue to participate in many EU instruments in the area of justice and home affairs, and cooperation in some cases even goes further than with the Schengen states Norway, Iceland or Switzerland. The exit from Europol and the Schengen Information System could strengthen the secret services.

With its withdrawal from the European Union, the UK will have left the „European Area of Freedom, Security and Justice“ as of 1 January 2021, and the country will become a third country from the EU’s perspective. This will also end cooperation within the framework of the Schengen Agreement. The government in London will lose its place as one of the most important partners in the EU security architecture. The loss of participation in the Schengen Information System (SIS II) will probably weigh heavily in the UK. In 2019, British police forces and intelligence services had around 37,000 persons and 4.5 million objects stored there. Many covert Article 36 alerts, which allow police and domestic intelligence to track the movements of wanted persons across the EU, also originated in the UK.

However, British authorities are to be allowed to continue to participate in important EU information systems in the area of Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) and also to cooperate with agencies. These are the provisions of the provisional „EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement“ (TCA), which the parties negotiated at the last minute before the turn of the year. „Privileged third country: EU security cooperation with Great Britain after Brexit“ weiterlesen

Brexit agreement: Close EU police cooperation with the UK continues

British authorities retain access to the EU-wide exchange of PNR data and are allowed to query biometric records in EU member states. Additional agreements regulate close cooperation with Europol and the rapid extradition of wanted persons. However, the UK must leave Europe’s largest manhunt database.

Even after Brexit, Britain retains an important place in the European Union’s security architecture. The Trade and Cooperation Agreement presented by the EU Commission and the British government at Christmas reaffirms the „need for strong cooperation between national police and judicial authorities“.

Among the „areas of mutual interest“ are law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal and civil matters. To combat and prosecute cross-border crime and terrorism, British authorities may continue to participate in important EU information systems and also cooperate with agencies. Each of the new forms of cooperation is subject to the obligation to respect the European Convention on Human Rights. There is no way to involve the European Court of Justice for legal action concerning any of the measures foreseen in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. „Brexit agreement: Close EU police cooperation with the UK continues“ weiterlesen

Query on Suspicion: German EU Council Presidency wants Criminal Records Index

For the second time, the German Federal Criminal Police Office is leading an EU pilot project that aims to enable cross-border queries of police files. This could affect not only police suspects but also their associates or victims. The Federal Ministry of the Interior has been pursuing the project since the German EU Presidency in 2007.

With the German EU Presidency soon to end, the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) is one step closer to its goal of networking police forces in EU member states in a new information system. Within the framework of a „European Police Record Index System“ (EPRIS), the police in all participating states are to be able to query registers on persons against whom criminal investigations are on file. With such a system, it could be determined whether data exists in the police databases of another state.

Since February, the BKA has been leading an EU project that is testing the use of this EPRIS for the second time within a year. The police from France, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain and Hungary as well as Europol are involved. Partners from the private sector are the German consulting company PD and the Berlin Fraunhofer Institute FOKUS. „Query on Suspicion: German EU Council Presidency wants Criminal Records Index“ weiterlesen

Upgrade for the Schengen Information System

The European Union is restructuring its police database landscape. Existing systems are being merged and supplemented by new ones. The number of authorised users is also increasing. Following technical changes, the relevant Council working groups are now being reorganised.

The European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems (eu-LISA) has carried out an upgrade for the Schengen Information System (SIS II). With version 9.3.0, the database managed by the Agency based in Tallinn, technically implements its three new regulations. In future, Europol, Eurojust and Frontex will also be able to query all types of alerts in the system, including „discreet searches“.

A total of 26 EU Member States participate in SIS II, plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Last year, the database contained 81 million objects and around 900 thousand persons. In 2017, most entries (20 million) came from Italy, followed by France (11 million) and Germany (over 10 million). In 2017, the system was queried five billion times, mostly by border, police and immigration authorities. In 2018, the number of hits rose to six billion, according to eu-LISA. „Upgrade for the Schengen Information System“ weiterlesen

New database at Eurojust: Who’s a terrorist?

The EU has a Criminal Record Information System since 2012, but last week a second database was introduced only for „terrorist threats“. Its added value is unclear and may be the search for „interconnections“. The system also includes „right-wing and left-wing extremist groups“ in Europe.

Last week, the European Union set up another information system on „terrorist threats“. Since 1 September, data from criminal procedures can be stored in a „Judicial Counter-Terrorism Register“ (CTR). The database is maintained by Eurojust, the judicial authority of the European Union based in The Hague. The Agency is responsible for judicial cooperation.

The creation of the new „Judicial Counter-Terrorism Register“ is an initiative of the governments of France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Past extensions of police information systems have mostly been justified by the increase in Islamist terrorism. However, the new anti-terror register will also cover „right-wing and left-wing extremist groups“ in Europe. „New database at Eurojust: Who’s a terrorist?“ weiterlesen

Europe’s largest police database expanded again

The Schengen Information System contains 79 million entries on persons and objects. These can now also be used by the EU agencies. A new regulation allows simple police officers to question people.

With the publication in the Official Journal of the European Union three new regulations for the Schengen Information System (SIS) have entered into force. The participating national authorities are now obliged to issue a warning for all cases involving terrorist offences. If hits are found during a query, the police agency Europol must be informed in any case. However, this regulation will not be binding until the end of 2019. „Europe’s largest police database expanded again“ weiterlesen

New database: EU extends criminal records to third country nationals and stateless persons

Five EU biometric databases will be merged into a „Common Identity Repository“. The regulations of all systems have to be renewed. The possibilities of the authorities will be expanded.

The European Union will extend its cross-border European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS) to third-country nationals and stateless persons. This was agreed by the Council and Parliament on Tuesday. The exchange of information on criminal convictions of third-country nationals is intended to help in the fight against terrorism and is part of the „European Security Agenda“. The new regulation, on which the Commission presented a proposal a year ago, still has to be formally adopted by both parties. The database will then be called ECRIS-TCN („third country nationals“). „New database: EU extends criminal records to third country nationals and stateless persons“ weiterlesen

Database on “European extremists”: How is the plan pursued since 2001 supposed to function?

After each major summit protest, there are calls for a European “troublemakers” database to be established. Centralised data storage at EU level or decentralised networking of national systems would be conceivable options. For a number of reasons, it has not been possible to set up a database of this kind since the turn of the millennium. The governing coalition in Germany has now announced a new initiative to this end following the G20 Summit in Hamburg.

Cooperation on summit events between European security authorities has been running like clockwork for more than 20 years. Police and intelligence services have exchanged information on threats and “individuals who pose a terrorist threat”, have assisted each another with personnel and equipment and seconded liaison officers. Shortly before such summits, the Schengen Agreement is partially suspended and border controls reintroduced while travel bans are imposed on undesirable protesters. „Database on “European extremists”: How is the plan pursued since 2001 supposed to function?“ weiterlesen

New data retention planned for border crossings of all European Union citizens

The European Union could soon save the date and place of each crossing of the EU’s external borders. Travellers’ identification documents would be read out and their biographical data saved along with information regarding border crossings. Police forces and intelligence services would have access to this data.

The European Commission published the final report of the High-Level Expert Group on Information Systems and Interoperability in May. According to this document, European border authorities could soon – unbeknownst to the travellers – be able to trawl through the travel routes of all nationals of EU member states. Alongside their biographical data, the system to be set up will log the direction in which borders are crossed. This new data repository on border crossings at all land, sea and air borders might form part of the Schengen Information System II (SIS II), which is the largest police and border authority database. Preference is being given to the establishment of an entirely new database, however. „New data retention planned for border crossings of all European Union citizens“ weiterlesen

Counter-terrorism and the inflation of EU databases

Heiner Busch and Matthias Monroy. Translation by Viktoria Langer

The topic of counter-terrorism in Europe remains closely linked to the development and expansion of police (and secret service) databases. This was the case in the 1970s, after 11 September 2001 and has also been the case since 2014, when the EU Member States started working on their action plans against ‚foreign terrorist fighters‘.

The first effect of this debate has been a quantitative one: the amount of data in the relevant databases has increased explosively since 2015. This can be seen by looking in particular at available data on the Europol databases, like ‚Focal Points‘ (formerly: Analytical Work Files) of the Europol analysis system. Since 2015 they have become one of the central instruments of the European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC) which was established in January 2016. „Counter-terrorism and the inflation of EU databases“ weiterlesen