Commission initiatives to bring more security to Europeans22 April 2010
by Ina Dimireva -- last modified 22 April 2010
European leaders endorsed 170 initiatives last December known as the Stockholm Programme, aimed at creating a genuine European area of freedom, security and justice. The Commission has now turned these political objectives into an action plan for 2010-2014.
The plan includes the following 10 initiatives to bring more security to Europeans and a responsible answer to migration:
1. Defining a comprehensive Internal security strategy aimed at strengthening cooperation in police cooperation, border management, civil protection, disaster management as well as criminal judicial cooperation in order to make Europe more secure. The strategy and all related actions will need to address common security threats from terrorism and organised crime, to safety concerns related to man-made and natural disasters:
Joint training and "Erasmus"-style exchange programmes;
A coherent framework should be established to manage information sharing, reinforcing the European capacity for strategic analysis and improving efficiency at operational level;
Improving counter-terrorism measures
Fight against terrorism
2. Negotiating a long-term agreement with the US on the processing and transfer of financial messaging data in the framework of the Terrorist Financing Tracking Programme (TFTP).
TFTP-derived information has already helped in the past to investigate and disrupt terrorism plots. In 2010, the Commission will negotiate a long-term agreement with the US, with a mandate including significant data protection guarantees such as a strict counter terrorism purpose limitation, an absolute prohibition on transfers on bulk data to third countries (only leads can be transferred). It aims at a potential limitation of the amount of personal data that is transferred to US authorities. The EU will have the right to terminate the Agreement in the event of breach of any of the data protection safeguards.
Fight against crime
3. Looking at an EU approach to the use of Passenger Name Record (EU-PNR) data for law enforcement purposes (legislative proposal; 2010) and creating a European framework for the communication of PNR data to third countries.
The objectives of the proposal are the prevention of and fight against terrorism and organised crime, allowing law enforcement authorities access to a tool (PNR data) enabling them to identify persons associated with these offenses, as well as using PNR data for trend analysis and development of risk indicators.
The Framework Decision on the protection of personal data in the context of police cooperation in criminal matters will govern aspects of data protection.
4. Criminalising identity theft and setting a European strategy on identity management.
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world today, clearly linked to organised crime and that affects governments, businesses and citizens.
A comparative study is currently under way on the best ways to prevent and fight identity theft in the EU Member States;
There is no common legal definition of the crime in the EU, nor do all EU Member States have specific penal legislation;
EU legislation could be proposed in 2012, subject to an additional assessment;
The EU will also encourage governments of the Member States to develop a common approach on identity management to reduce the risk of abuse;
In the coming years, the EU will also increase cooperation and exchange of information, as well as develop better and comparable statistics in order to quantify the extent and the impact of identity theft in its different forms.
5. Protecting European citizens from attacks against information systems and cybercrime.
The Commission will in 2010 propose a new directive on attacks against information systems. The directive will build on the existing Framework Decision on attacks against information (Council Framework Decision 2005/222/JHA of 24 February 2005 on attacks against information systems), seeking specifically to deter large-scale attacks originating from the EU or targeting it.
Visa policy and border security
6. Reinforcing border security by setting up an entry-exit system for visa holders. The entry/exit system will replace the current practice of stamping the passports of third-country nationals at each entry and exit to monitor compliance with the rules on short stays. The system should include the recording of information on the time and place of entry, the length of stay authorised, and the transmission of automated alerts directly to the competent authorities, should a person be identified as 'overstayer', both at the time this occurs and upon departure from the EU.
7. Evaluating and if necessary amending the data retention directive.
The evaluation will assess the application of the Directive by Member States, and its impact on businesses and consumers. It will also assess technological developments in the telecoms sector.
The evaluation report is due to be adopted by the Commission in autumn 2010, and will be made public. The outcome of this evaluation will play an important role in determining whether amendments to the Directive needed.
8. Clearing the conditions of entry and residence of third country nationals for purposes of seasonal employment and admission of third country nationals in the framework of intra-corporate transfer.
It is obvious that the EU, despite the current economic crisis we are facing, has a long-term demographic challenge. Even though the unemployment rates are high, we also have an ageing population. If we are to secure our welfare, we need to open more legal ways into Europe.
In the context of the current economic crisis, it is particularly important to avoid employers from one Member State competing unfairly with their counterparts from another Member State, due to different national regimes for employing third-country seasonal workers.
Furthermore, the Schengen area without internal borders requires common rules to ensure a well-functioning admission of seasonal workers.
Finally, an EU instrument on seasonal workers is crucial for ensuring effective cooperation with third countries and developing further the global approach to migration. When discussing irregular migration, it is crucial that we also look at the possibilities of providing legal ways to enter Europe.
9. Taking special care of unaccompanied minors in the migration process.
The challenge of unaccompanied minors is growing. Every year a considerable number of third-country nationals or stateless persons below the age of 18 arrive to the European Union unaccompanied by an adult. The Action Plan will address this challenge by proposing a common EU approach based on the respect of the rights of the child.
There are four main strands of action within this area: prevention, protection, reception and the identification of durable solutions such as return and reintegration in the country of origin, a legal status in the Member State of residence or resettlement.
These actions will be implemented by a series of concrete measures which will be outlined in the Action Plan and which will not be limited to immigration policies, but will also address the root causes of migration.
Common EU asylum system
10. Introducing the joint processing of asylum applications within the European Union, fostering solidarity between Member States and creating a framework for the transfer of protection of beneficiaries of international protection and mutual recognition of asylum decisions.
In December 2008, the Commission presented the first concrete proposals to implement the Policy Plan on Asylum and the Pact on Immigration and Asylum. They aimed to amend three of the existing legislative instruments of the Common European Asylum System: the Directive on reception conditions for asylum-seekers; the Dublin Regulation which determines the Member State responsible for an asylum application; and the Eurodac Regulation, a data base containing the fingerprints of asylum seekers, which supports the operation of the Dublin Regulation. The proposal aims to ensure that all asylum-seekers are treated in a fair and equal way wherever they make their request for asylum in the EU, and to enhance the efficiency of the EU asylum system.
In the years to come, the Commission will continue this work, with the aim to create a common EU asylum system that treats people with dignity and full respect for the fundamental rights and with a strong focus on solidarity. There is also an ongoing pilot project which aims at facilitating the resettlement of beneficiaries of international protection from those countrieshaving asylum systems that currently are under pressure.
In 2011, the Commission will establish a mechanism to review the Member States' national asylum systems and identify the issues related to capacities which will enable Member States to support each other in building capacity.
Source: European Commission