EU agency awaits requests for new maritime rescue drone

The Maritime Safety Agency EMSA has signed a four-year contract for new drone flights. But operational locations are still unclear because required flight permits and approvals are causing problems.

The European Union’s seas are increasingly becoming testing tracks for drone surveillance. The border agency Frontex has been monitoring the Libyan sea rescue zone for a year with an Israeli „Heron 1“; boats with refugees are reported to the coast guard in Libya for forced returns. Now Frontex wants to station such a long-range drone on Crete.

The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) also uses drones for maritime surveillance and was even significantly faster than Frontex in doing so. After a joint test six years ago, EMSA had been looking for companies to fly drones, and in the meantime the Lisbon-based agency has spent a three-digit million sum on them. „EU agency awaits requests for new maritime rescue drone“ weiterlesen

European Court of Justice: Controls at the Schengen borders may not be extended arbitrarily

Some EU members still control their internal borders excessively. However, exceeding the time limit of six months is incompatible with the Schengen Borders Code. Governments and the EU Commission must now react.

The lifting of internal border controls is often praised as the greatest achievement of the European Union. However, especially for migration control, many countries have made use of the possibility of temporary reintroduction and have extended this regulation, sometimes dozens of times. This is contrary to EU law, ruled the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) in Luxembourg last week.

The case was brought by the Austrian citizen N.W., who refused to show his passport at a checkpoint at the Slovenian border in Austria and was ordered to pay a €36 fine for this according to a court ruling. In a second case, W. challenged the judgement. The Regional Administrative Court of Styria therefore referred the matter to the ECJ for a preliminary ruling. Now the courts in Austria have to deal with it again. „European Court of Justice: Controls at the Schengen borders may not be extended arbitrarily“ weiterlesen

Mediterranean Sea: Frontex claims to have detected 13,000 refugees with drones

After in Malta, the EU border agency is now stationing a long-range drone on Crete. There is contradictory information on the surveillance technology on board.

According to its own figures, Frontex has detected at least 13,000 refugees in 300 cases with the help of long-range drones and reported them to the responsible coast guards. Since May last year, the EU border agency has stationed a Heron 1 from the Israeli arms company IAI in Malta for such missions. The drone is officially registered to the Maltese Air Force.

The contract for Frontex drones was awarded to the German branch of the Airbus Group in Bremen, which also flies four Heron 1s for the German armed forces in Mali. They are controlled from a mobile facility located at the international airport near the Maltese capital Valletta. Other Airbus technicians are responsible for maintenance and repairs there. „Mediterranean Sea: Frontex claims to have detected 13,000 refugees with drones“ weiterlesen

German ANOM investigations: The mysterious EU third state

The FBI had a crypto-messenger programmed that was fully intercepted. For legal reasons, the US authority received the intercepted communication via detours. Because of „hearsay court orders“, its use in German criminal proceedings is questionable.

Ever since the encrypted messenger service EncroChat was hacked by authorities from France and the Netherlands in March 2020, investigative proceedings have been piling up at law enforcement agencies across Europe. Millions of chat messages have been transmitted via Europol to the relevant authorities in EU member states for follow-up. Almost every day, therefore, there are new raids, arrests or convictions in Germany as well.

Although the hack was presumably carried out by a French secret service and involved mass surveillance without any reason, the German Federal Supreme Court – unlike some regional courts before it – recently allowed the use of EncroChat data as evidence in Germany in principle. This was because the information had been collected by France, i.e. an EU member state, and passed on within the framework of European mutual legal assistance. The countries participating in this set of rules were to be trusted in principle. „German ANOM investigations: The mysterious EU third state“ 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 Schengen Council: Frontex as „spearhead“ of new border policy

With a new steering group, the French EU Presidency wants to monitor the coordinates of asylum and migration policy in Europe. The basis is a new measuring instrument for „migratory pressure“.

EU interior ministers have followed the suggestion of French President Emmanuel Macron and decided to set up a Schengen Council at their recent meeting in Lille. The French EU presidency calls it the „most appropriate forum for essential exchange of views at the political level“, according to a document from the Council published yesterday by the British civil liberties organisation Statewatch. It will be constituted at the upcoming Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on 3 and 4 March.

As a steering group, the Schengen Council is to monitor the situation at the EU’s external borders and dovetail it with measures within the Schengen area. In this way, the member states are to prevent further erosion of the freedom of movement and ensure a reduction of internal border controls. Their temporary reintroduction is permitted under the Schengen Borders Code, but since 2015 some states have made excessive use of them. „New Schengen Council: Frontex as „spearhead“ of new border policy“ weiterlesen

First type certificate: Israeli drone may fly domestic missions in future

Arms manufacturers want to market their long-range drones for interior ministries or agriculture, but to do so they must fly over populated areas. Market leaders are working feverishly to obtain the necessary permits.

For the first time, the Israeli Civil Aviation Authority has issued a permanent permit to fly a drone in civil airspace. The type certificate was granted to the defence company Elbit for its „Hermes Starliner“, as the company announced in a press release yesterday. According to a spokesperson, Elbit spent six years working on the certification, a process that involved „thousands of man hours, dozens of audits, laboratory tests, ground tests, intensive flight tests and thousands of documents“.

Until now, civilian and military flights of such large drones in Israel were restricted to reserved airspace. According to the aviation authority, the certification that has now taken place meets the applicable NATO standards for the integration of heavyweight drones. Accordingly, the drones used by the military can use civilian airspace – for training, for example – and ascend over populated areas. „First type certificate: Israeli drone may fly domestic missions in future“ weiterlesen

Facial recognition and police records: European biometric systems to be expanded

A new Prüm system will make it possible to query facial images across Europe in the future, and a central biometric EU repository will also be connected to it

For 14 years, the member states of the European Union have been able to query each other’s fingerprints, non-coding DNA data, motor vehicle and owner data. The basis for this is the Prüm Treaty, which was initially signed by seven EU members in the Eifel town in 2005. Three years later, the EU Prüm Decision followed, making the set of rules for improving police data exchange valid throughout the Union. As non-EU states, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the United Kingdom also participate in the Prüm network.

To mark the tenth anniversary of the Decision in 2018, the Council proposed to extend cooperation to facial images. The Commission recently presented a draft for such a Prüm II. The paper is now being discussed by the member states in the relevant Council working groups, and the position of the interior and justice ministers is to be determined by spring. Afterwards, the Parliament will deal with it. „Facial recognition and police records: European biometric systems to be expanded“ 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

Crossings to the UK: EU police to install hidden cameras on French and Belgian beaches

With several police actions, the riparians of the English Channel want to prevent unwanted crossings of migrants. German authorities plan internet campaigns against the sale of inflatable boats and engines. After Brexit, the UK is taking part in these measures funded by the Council of the EU.

Up to 27,000 people may have crossed the English Channel into Britain without passport checks this year alone, tripling their numbers from last year. Crossings in rubber dinghies sometimes take place several times a day and usually very early in the morning, with popular departure points being the French coasts of Bray-Dunes and Dunkirk on the Belgian border.

Britain and France had already concluded several agreements on joint migration control. The government in London recently paid 63 million Euros for the expansion of French patrols, the further doubling of police forces deployed there, comprehensive surveillance technology also in the air as well as floating barriers at port facilities and estuaries. In light of the accident with 27 deaths this Wednesday, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is demanding even more efforts from French President Emmanuel Macron.

„Crossings to the UK: EU police to install hidden cameras on French and Belgian beaches“ weiterlesen