Ukraine war: New Eurojust regulation in fast-track procedure

Eurojust is allowed to store and process personal and biometric data. As EU Justice Agency it will also be authorised to analyse digital evidence, but it does not actually have a mandate to do so.

The Permanent Representatives of the EU Member States today agreed on a position on the new Eurojust Regulation. The agency is responsible for judicial cooperation in criminal matters and coordinates cross-border investigations. Among the new proposals, Eurojust will be allowed to secure and process evidence on war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. The three criminal offences enshrined in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) are part of Eurojust’s mandate, but the establishment of a biometric database is not yet part of it.

The background to this is the war in Ukraine, on which the agency is to take action following a request from the EU Council of Ministers for „Justice and Home Affairs“. Eurojust is supposed to support European and international courts and the in securing evidence. Because the measures required for this are urgent, the Eurojust Regulation will also be adopted in a two-month urgent procedure. The Commission had presented a corresponding legislative proposal only last week. Four days later, the Member States in the Council dealt with it for the first time. „Ukraine war: New Eurojust regulation in fast-track procedure“ weiterlesen

EU Parliament approves: Europol Regulation on the home straight

The EU police agency gets a new legal basis after six years. The expansion of its powers is hardly matched by new possibilities for supervision. A parliamentary control group even proves to be a driver for the expansion of an already powerful agency.

The EU Parliament has voted by a large majority to extend Europol’s powers. The negotiators of the Home Affairs Committee and the Council had agreed on the new regulation in February. With 480 votes in favour, 143 against and 20 abstentions, it was now approved in plenary.

The new text considerably expands the powers of the police agency based in The Hague. As in the investigations into the encrypted messenger services Encrochat and SkyECC, Europol will in future be allowed to receive millions of pieces of data from private companies in order to analyse them. Also in the area of crimes against the sexual self-determination of children, Europol will in future receive large data sets from companies and process them forensically. „EU Parliament approves: Europol Regulation on the home straight“ weiterlesen

Predator by Cytrox: Spyware discovered on phone of Greek journalist

A committee of enquiry in the EU Parliament is to look into the use of mercenary spyware against opposition members and media workers in Europe. German clients could also be in the spotlight, according to an analysis by the Meta Group.

On 10 March, the European Parliament decided to set up a committee of enquiry into the Pegasus trojan programme, which met for its constituent session yesterday. Background to the case are the known operations of the spying software produced by the Israeli NSO Group against opposition members and journalists in Hungary and Poland. The company claims to have sold its tools to almost all European countries, reports the New Yorker magazine.

The investigation, which goes by the acronym „PEGA“, involves members of parliament who were themselves intercepted by the NSO spying software, including Catalan politician Carles Puigdemont. This „CatalanGate“ was made public by the Canadian research group Citizen Lab at the start of „PEGA“. The EU Commission was also investigated with the trojan. „Predator by Cytrox: Spyware discovered on phone of Greek journalist“ weiterlesen

Amendment of SIS II Regulation: Europol to coordinate proposals for alerts from third countries

The EU police agency is to receive lists of persons from foreign authorities and then have them alerted in the Schengen area for refusal of entry, arrest or observation. This legalises a questionable procedure that has long been practised.

Can the US FBI put a Tunisian national on a European database for refusal of entry, even if there is no proof that he belongs to a terrorist organisation as claimed? Should it be permissible for Europol to initiate such alerts even at the behest of an intelligence service from Serbia or Egypt, so that the person concerned is arrested when crossing the border into the Schengen area?

It is certain that the Schengen Information System (SIS II) will soon be supplemented by such a regulation. However, it was disputed between the EU Parliament and the Member States in the Council what role Europol should play in mediating such searches for third-country nationals. Tomorrow, the so-called trilogue negotiations are to be concluded with a consensus between Council and Parliament; after their formal decision in the competent bodies, the regulation would then be valid as of summer. „Amendment of SIS II Regulation: Europol to coordinate proposals for alerts from third countries“ weiterlesen

What’s the problem with the EU regulation on the release of electronic evidence?

The EU Parliament has accommodated the member states on crucial points, but now demands special attention to fundamental rights. The controversial question is how a state in which a company is based can object to an order.

The French EU Presidency wants to get things moving on the so-called E-Evidence dossier and has scheduled several meetings of the relevant Council working groups since January. However, the Member States and the Parliament have not yet been able to agree on essential points. Today, the issue is once again on the agenda of the meeting of Justice Ministers in Brussels.

Four years ago, the European Commission proposed a Regulation on European Production and Preservation Orders for electronic evidence in criminal matters. The law enforcement authorities of the member states want to oblige internet service providers that are not located in their own country to directly transmit data of their users. These direct contacts between states and companies would bypass the usual legal process. The regulation concerns inventory, traffic and content data. It also covers companies that are based in third countries but offer their services in the EU. For this purpose, they are to designate a „point of contact“ in an EU member state. „What’s the problem with the EU regulation on the release of electronic evidence?“ weiterlesen

New authority against money laundering: EU Commission and Europol want to expand financial investigations

In the summer, the Commission presented a four-step legislative package against money laundering and terrorist financing. This includes the establishment of a new authority and the introduction of a bank account register. The proposals are currently being discussed by the Council, slowly now the consultation of the Parliament is starting.

At the beginning of next year, the European Union wants to establish a new Authority for Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AMLA). It is expected to become operational in 2024 and fully operational two years later, supervising financial transactions of so-called „high-risk institutions“. A „harmonised risk assessment methodology“ will be used to determine which firms fall into this category. For this purpose, the authority also wants to evaluate reports from the member states. „New authority against money laundering: EU Commission and Europol want to expand financial investigations“ weiterlesen

Access through Europol and databases: EU decides against control of Interpol

Authoritarian states use the international police organisation for the political persecution of opposition members. The EU Council or the Commission could coordinate the review of these misused alerts. However, the Parliament has agreed to a horse-trading deal.

Next year in May, the European Commission plans to launch the new Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). All visa-free travellers to the EU will then have to deposit personal data via an internet form before crossing the border. As things stand at present, this affects around 1.4 billion people from over 60 countries.

As part of the check, the personal data will be compared with other police databases. If there is a „hit“, the incident is processed manually and forwarded to the national ETIAS offices in the member states for checking. The border agency Frontex, which operates the ETIAS central office with around 250 officers, is responsible for this. „Access through Europol and databases: EU decides against control of Interpol“ weiterlesen

New Frontex command structures: Vice directors begin their work

Since 2016, the EU border agency has been given considerably more power. A new management post is now responsible for the currently established armed border force, a deportation unit and data retention.

With two new regulations, the Council of the European Union and the Parliament have equipped the border agency Frontex with new capabilities and competences. Since 2016, Frontex has been allowed to acquire vehicles, aircraft and drones and decide on their deployment there after approval by a host state. The 2019 regulation also provides for the establishment of a „Standing Corps“ of 10,000 officers reporting directly to the headquarters in Warsaw. The 2019 Regulation also allows Frontex to prepare and conduct deportation flights on its own. In addition, the „Standing Corps“ will also take over the establishment and operation of a huge new database for personal travel information.

Frontex was given a new command structure for the three new areas. For the first time, the Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri is assisted by three Deputy Directors. The positions were advertised a year ago and appointed in October. Together with their superior, they have sole authority over all operations. The Frontex Regulation guarantees that no other body has authority over the management of the border agency. „New Frontex command structures: Vice directors begin their work“ weiterlesen

Strategic Compass: EU to get new secret service centre

The two EU secret service situation centres could soon be merged into a single institution. Their surveillance capacities are currently being expanded. Operational competences are also under discussion.

The European Commission wants to take the cooperation of intelligence services within the EU to a new level. In her „State of the Union“ address last September, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promoted the establishment of a Joint Situational Awareness Centre. How it should differ from other intelligence structures, however, remained unclear.

Now the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy has also commented on the matter. In his answer to a parliamentary question, Josep Borell writes that „discussions“ on the joint centre will continue within the framework of the Strategic Compass. These are new guidelines for the Common Security and Defence Policy. They should help to make the military efforts of the EU and its member states more operational. „Strategic Compass: EU to get new secret service centre“ weiterlesen

New Europol regulation: EU member states want to blindside parliament with renewed time stamps

For years, the EU police agency has been storing dumps of data on crime victims and witnesses. New legislation will legalise this practice. An exception should now apply to information Europol collected before it comes into force.

According to a proposal by the EU Commission for a new Europol regulation, the EU police authority is to be given even more far-reaching powers for its data collections. An Article 18a is envisaged, according to which Europol may keep personal data on victims and witnesses of crimes for a longer period of time. Under the current regulation, this is not allowed.

Three weeks ago, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) Wojciech Wiewiórowski therefore ordered Europol to delete data records on this category that are more than a year old. Accordingly, further storage is only possible for data on criminals. The governments of the EU member states now want to use a trick to circumvent this order. The new regulation is supposed to allow the questionable storage practice for victims and witnesses retroactively. „New Europol regulation: EU member states want to blindside parliament with renewed time stamps“ weiterlesen