Parliamentary tracker : echoes from LIBE meeting of January 23-24, 2017

by Luigi LIMONE (*)

Summary:
– Confirmation of Claude Moraes as Chairman of LIBE Committee
– State of Roma integration in the EU
– Collection of biometric data of illegally staying third-country nationals
– Structured dialogue with Commissioneer Vera Jourova
– Legal Service presentation of Tele2/SverigeAB ruling on data retention
– EASO assesment on Turkey and Balkan Countries as “safe countries”
– Danemark-Europol cooperation after May 1st 2017
– Structured dialogue with Commissioneer Avramopoulos
– EP report on “Fundamental rights implications of Big Data”
– Outcome of the LIBE delegation in Sweden (19-20 September 2016)

 

The Committee meeting of LIBE of 23 and 24 January opened with the confirmation of Claude Moraes (S&D, United Kingdom) as chairman of the LIBE Committee for the second half of the 8th legislature (2014-2019).

  1. The first point on the agenda was about the ‘State of play of Roma integration in Member States’.

It has been opened by an intervention of  Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos, Head of Equality and Citizens’ Rights Department for the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) who presented the findings of the Second European Union Minorities and Discrimination (MIDIS) Survey on Roma inclusion.
This Survey build on the results of the first wave of the large-scale survey conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) in 2008 and is particularly focused on the issue of Roma inclusion in order to fulfill both the EU global strategy for the next period and the UN Agenda for sustainable development..
The main emerging issues of the second survey based have been :
1) Education: this is the only area where some improvements have been registered, notably for young children. However, almost half of Roma children don’t follow secondary schools and almost 95% do not attend any form of post-secondary education.
2) Youth: on average, 63% of young Roma (aged 16-24) are neither working nor studying or following professional training (compared to 12% of their non-Roma peers of the same age in the EU).
3) Employment: fewer than one on three Roma have a paid job, and the situation is even worse for Roma women.
Most of Roma people are marginalized and not less than 41% of Roma living in Europe is discriminated in employment, education or when trying to reach health care centers or the public administration.

To improve the current situation a double strategy will be needed: on one side the awareness of Roma fundamental and civic rights should be increased and on the Member States side common efforts should be deployed a) to better collect and share data linked with these policies ; b) to overcome the resistance in implementing these policies; c) to fight raising anti-Gypsyism in the public opinion; d) to empower Roma people. According to Mr Dimitrakopoulos to overcome Roma discrimination “it’s about human dignity and respect of human rights”.

The presentation by Dimitrakopoulos was followed by a presentation by the European Commission representative  on the progress made in the EU framework about Roma inclusion. The latter  said that the Commission had several occasions to assess the inclusion of Roma in the Member States.

According to him, what is interesting from the EU level is that some positive signs have been registered such as:
-the spreading of efficient structures such as the support network for Roma contact point;
– the civil society meetings all over Europe (like the National Roma platforms for Roma inclusion) in order to provide exchange of information among Member State;
– the integration of a strategy for Roma inclusion in the EU Agenda 2020 in order to attract increasingly more attention to the issue;
– from a financial point of view, the full embedding of Roma inclusion into EU funds;
– the implementation at ground level of the EU legislation in order to restrain xenophobia and discrimination.
As far as the improvement of Roma people living conditions in Europe is concerned, the Commission representative said that “there’s indeed not much positive to report about, but we are moving in the right direction”.
He reported that poverty rate among Roma living in Europe was at 80% compared to 90% last year and that another encouraging indicator was that early child education is on the rise.
Among the recommendations for the future he included the reinforcement of the legislation in force, the reduction in segregation cases in education and housing, a better mainstreaming on interventions when programs for Roma inclusion are put into practice.
The Commission representative ended his speech by confirming that the EU commission fully supports the EU Parliament in its works with a number of important programs and that on 8 December 2016 the EU Member States declared their total engagement to work together on a number of issues related to Roma inclusion.
MEPs interventions:
According to Soraya Post (S&D – Sweden), in order to progress the EU needs a stronger effort at a common level as well as more integration of action among the EU institutions.
Cornelia Ernst (GUE/NGL – Germany) said that Roma could not be treated as people coming from the outside anymore and that the EU needed to find the right strategy starting in order to improve the situation of Roma in Europe.
Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (EPP – Sweden) claimed that the Member States were not implementing the strategies adopted during the past mandate. She also highlighted a lack of coordination among the national authorities and a lack of transparency on how EU money is used to break ghettoisation or to send Roma children to school. For her, a more transparent approach is needed and a great deal of the issue derives from the fact that the majority of Roma who come to Europe are not identified with documents and therefore they can’t have access to social services.
Péter Niederrmüller (S&D – Hungary) reflected on the political consequences of the situation of Roma people. He affirmed that he was having the impression that the EU was a world champion to organize events and conferences but that the EU institutions were doing nothing concrete in the reality. In his opinion, the EU has the institutions and the possibilities to do something good but the Member States are not ready to use these instruments in the right way. He also mentioned the fact that some Members State were attacking NGOs working for Roma inclusion in the EU territories.
According to Barbara Spinelli (GUE/NGL – Italy), the solution consists of empowering  Roma communities. In her opinion, there are two main obstacles which the EU needs to overcome: a) the lack of knowledge on the part of Roma communities on their rights, because  “being aware of our rights is the first step towards empowerment”; b) improvement of data collection, which is fundamental since most of the time Roma people are afraid of revealing their real identity because they are afraid of censuses. For her, it is mainly a problem of recognizing Roma group as such.
Birgit Sippel (S&D – Germany) admitted she was a bit speechless about the framework described in the presentations. In her opinion, the EU needs more positive indicators and data, since the situation seems unchanged compared to 2006 when the first efforts for Roma inclusion began. She also claimed that the EU would need more efforts and measures in order to improve Roma situation at a European level.
In response to the intervention by MEPs, Dimitrakopoulos affirmed on behalf of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) that the EU would need a policy of implementation which could counter the extreme marginalisation which Roma people are still experiencing in Europe. In his opinion, it is worth seeing how actors like authorities and municipalities are actually responding to the political initiatives in place in order to empower Roma people and bring them out from poverty. He concluded, however, that there has been  evidence of positive results and that the EU would need to work more on human dignity, empowerment and inclusion.
The spokesman for the European Commission answered that one of the main points was that Roma people were lying about their real identity, as Barbara Spinelli said in her intervention. According to him, there are still serious problems in some of the Member States especially when the implementation of EU rules is at stake. Member States should implement the existing legislation in full  and the European Parliament and the Commission should monitor in a sensible way how EU rules are implemented..

2. The second point of the Committee meeting was the ‘exchange of views on the written answers of the Commission to Gérard Deprez’. The European Commission transmitted a reply to the written questions presented by Gérard Deprez (ALDE – Belgium) on 15 November 2016.
Question n°1 referred to Article 14 of the Eurodac proposal and Article 6 of the Return Directive: Article 14 of the Eurodac proposal requires  each Member State to collect the biometric data of each third-country national found illegally staying within its territory. On the other hand, Article 6 of the Returns Directive already states ‘Member States shall issue a return decision to any third-country national staying illegally on their territory’.
The point raised by Mr. Deprez was the following: persons staying illegally will be recorded in both Eurodac (Article 14) and the SIS (Return decision). What would be the benefit of this double alert? Are there people who should be entered in Eurodac under Article 14 but are not subject to a return decision, and therefore do not have to be entered in the SIS?
If so, what would be gained by entering them in Eurodac? What is the added value of registering them in the Eurodac as well?
Mauro Gagliardi, on behalf of the European Commission, answered that the purpose of Eurodac was to take the necessary measures in accordance with the return directive and that it would therefore facilitate the application of the existing rules on the mutual recognition on return decisions.
According to him, since the aim is to facilitate the identification and redocumentation of irregular migrants in view of their possible return, in particular for those who try to use deceptive measures to avoid redocumentation or to enter illegally into another Member State,  the two instruments are designed to complement each other.
He also explained that data in Eurodac could be accessed at an earlier stage compared to SIS information and that there could be some situations in which data are present only in SIS and not in Eurodac or viceversa.
Carlos Coelho (EPP – Portugal) said he could not agree with Mr. Deprez. For him, the objective of the two instruments is different and resources should therefore be focused on both, especially the SIS which is more powerful, in order to efficiently respect a return decision.
Gérard Deprez made then an additional point, asking the Commission about the effective number of people who are registered in the Eurodac and not in the SIS. He also added that a double system would cost a lot of money and he asked if such a duplication is necessary.
Mr. Gagliardi then replied that the European Commission has seen the added value of the risk of having a double system because of the different purposes of the two databases. “The idea behind SIS is not only about having information on a person in view of their possible identification, but it is really about helping the enforcement and following up on a specific return decision and take the measures that are necessary to the removal decision and to close the file by confirming the exit from the Schengen area through an external border crossing point. For Eurodac we are absolutely in a different scenario: Eurodac is just about the identification and redocumentation of a person who may try to lie about his identity”, Gagliardi said.

Question n°2 was about Article 24 of Regulation 1987/2006: Article 24 of Regulation 1987/2006 lays down the conditions under which a Member State may issue an alert in SIS II for the purpose of refusing entry or stay.
These conditions are broad, which is why Recital 10 provides as follows: “It is necessary to further consider harmonising the provisions on the grounds for issuing alerts and to clarify their use in the framework of asylum, immigration and return policies”. Consequently, Article 24(5) provides for the Commission to review the application of the provisions of Article 24 within three years of the regulation entering into force and, on the basis of that review, to make the necessary proposals to achieve a greater level of harmonisation of the criteria for entering alerts.
With regard to this, Mr. Deprez asked the following question: Has the Commission carried out the review provided for in Article 24(5) and, if so, when does it intend to propose modifications?
Here the European Commission replied as follows: “an evaluation report has been published on 21 December and it contains some evaluations on Article 24. The outcome of the evaluation has been reflected also in the proposal for the revision of the SIS and especially in the proposal of using SIS for border checks and for return measures”.

The third point on the agenda was the ‘Structured dialogue with the Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vĕra Jourovà’.
Vĕra Jourovà dealt with data protection regulation. She said that the year 2016 was a difficult year for the EU, in particular for personal identity safeguards and private data protection. She also claimed that the EU has not implemented a solid data protection system yet. According to her, a proper implementation of new measures has to be ensured in order to provide consistent and unified rules by 2018.
For her, the key objective is that when EU personal data are transferred abroad, also protection is transferred with them.
She also mentioned some good examples of how the EU can work, in particular she talked about possible agreements with Japan and South Korea which have recently implemented new policies for data protection and modernized their data protection system.
She also talked about the need to reach an agreement in the field of criminal law on anti-fraud for a stronger area of freedom and justice. This agreement should require the participation of a consistent number of EU States.
Then, she mentioned the implementation of the EU-US “Privacy shield”.
She informed the Committee of her intention to visit the USA in April in order to meet the US counterparts and set the basis for a continuation of this system as well as about the ‘umbrella agreement’ which is supposed to enter into force in February with the aim of continuing to ensure high data protection standards for data transfers across the Atlantic for law enforcement purposes.
She said that the Umbrella Agreement would aim to provide safeguards and guarantees of lawfulness for data transfers, thereby strengthening fundamental rights, facilitating EU-US law enforcement cooperation and restoring trust.

Ms. Jourovà dealt with freedom of information as well. She stated that the EU would require progress in this domain also in order to reduce discrimination and limit radicalisation at a European level.
In particular, she warned of the negative impacts of the Web on racism and radicalism. This opinion was in line with the intervention of Cécile Kyenge (S&D – Italy) who confirmed that there would be the necessity to control Facebook, Twitter and other social media because the Web has become a no man’s land where information is used for a wide range of uncontrolled purposes, including fake news, incitations to hate, racism and radicalisation; issues concerning sexual abuse and child exposure.

As far as migration is concerned, Ms. Jourovà made references to Roma people and expressed her support to the process of reducing ethnic discrimination and Roma exclusion. She also talked about the need to improve the situation of migrant women and children, by creating essential safeguards in asylum procedures for children and women since they represent a vulnerable category.
For her, specific conditions for unaccompanied minors are required and the Member States should achieve better results in helping women get integrated in their societies. She finally mentioned the critical situation in Greece where 80% of migrant children are unaccompanied.

4. The fourth point on the LIBE agenda was the ‘Judgment of the Court C-698/15 and C-203/15 Tele2 Sverige AB on data retention’ with a presentation by the EP Legal Service.
Three issues were dealt with in the judgment of the Court:
a) the scope of EU law: the Court gave a very wide interpretation of the scope of the e-privacy directive ans it analyses it in light of the Charter of Fundamental Rights as well;
b) general retention of data: in one of the cases at issue, the Swedish Courts had asked if general retention of data was permitted under EU law or against it.
According to the EP Legal Service, the Court declared in its judgment that general retention of data was precluded by European law, while targeted data retention could come into force as long as there are efficient safeguards in place.
With reference to the cases at hand, the Court concluded therefore that general indiscriminate data retention was not accepted under EU law;
c) access to data by national authorities: according to the Court, targeted retention of data can be accepted by national authorities only when we are in presence of some conditions, including the presentation of a special request by the national authorities and the necessity to notify the person affected.
The EP legal service concluded that this judgment has strengthened even further the EU post-Lisbon Jurisprudence (Digital rights, Google, Schrems.) on data protection and has this will be essential for the implementation of the EU legislation in this domain.
MEPs interventions:
For Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (EPP – Sweden), it is important to put into place a harmonised data retention system under EU law which could eliminate the differences among the Member States.
Cornelia Ernst (GUE/NGL – Germany) found the clarification very important and stated that the e-privacy directive was so clear that it could apply to the cases at issue. For her, the interpretation of the Court is correct and the fact that national authorities are addressed in the judgement is a good point. However, she raised the following question: what happens next at EU level if national authorities continue to retain data?, and she expressed her hope that the Commission would be able to manage those cases in which national authorities did not to respect the EU legislation.
For Sophia in ‘t Veld (ALDE – Netherlands), the Court does not have to choose when to intervene or not; it simply has to intervene in all cases because it is always a violation of EU law. She also added that one of the most interesting conclusion of the Court was the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

5. The fifth point on LIBE Agenda dealt with the proposal for ‘establishing a EU common list of safe countries of origin for the purposes of common procedures for granting and withdrawing international’.
The presence of an EASO representative to the meeting was required to assess the situation of Turkey and all the Western Balkan countries in order to evaluate their eligibility to be included in the EU common list of safe countries of origin.
Mr. Ward Lutin, Head of EASO’s Information and Analysis Unit was grounded on seven reports established following the EASO Country of Origin Information Report methodology and published in November 2016. The aim of the reports was to provide the Committee with the information required in order to understand whether to include or not all the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) and Turkey in a common list of safe countries of origin.
In order to conduct the evaluation, the following indicators were used: state structure; socio-political landscape; rule of law and state protection; security situation; human rights situation both in general legal terms and in specific cases pertaining to minority groups.
During the presentation, a number of particularly significant cross-cutting issues emerged:
legislative and institutional framework: some progress together with the implementation of significant reforms were reported in all the seven countries;
political situation: free and fair elections were reported in all the Western Balkans, but there were some cases of boycotting in Kosovo and in Montenegro. As far as Turkey is concerned, the coup d’état in July 2016 raised serious concerns about political stability, with a significant  impact on the police, the army and political authorities in general;
corruption/abuse of power: several cases of corruption were reported in several areas of all the seven countries. There were attempts to introduce new laws concerning corruption but the implementation of such legislation, concerning especially investigation and prosecution, was still considered insufficient. Some cases of abuse of power were reported as well;
independence of judiciary: some scandals of political interference in the judiciary were reported in all the seven countries analysed, together with a significant of lack of transparency, especially in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia where  implementation in this filed was considered to be very slow;
security situation: generally speaking, the Western Balkan region was considered to be stable. However, some local interethnic conflict were reported for example in Macedonia and within the Serbian community living Kosovo. Security situation in Bosnia Herzegovina was said to be affected by the presence of the so-called ‘foreign terrorist fighters’. As far as Turkey is concerned, security situation was reported to be more difficult due to the reiteration of military operations, terrorist acts by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Daesh and the coup d’état of July 2016 which was followed by a state of emergency;
freedom of expression/media: generally speaking, a high degree of pressure against journalists as well as human rights activists and NGOs was reported in the region. In particular, in Turkey, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bosnia Herzegovina and Serbia there were several cases of harassment and verbal violence against of journalists.
ethnic/religious minorities: some cases of discrimination against the Roma population were reported in all the Western Balkan countries. In Turkey the situation was considered to be more difficult and several cases of discrimination against the Roma and the Kurdish populations were reported. In addition, sexual minorities were considered to be issues of concern in most of the seven countries. However, some positive signs came from Kosovo and Serbia where several marches against homophobia have been recently organised.
women and children: early and forced marriages were reported in Turkey and among the Roma population living in all the Western Balkans, together with reiterated cases of forced child labour.
MEPs interventions:
Gérard Deprez (ALDE – Belgium) said that the presentation clearly demonstrated that there were problems in all the countries analyzed. He concluded that these countries should not be considered safe. He also added that such considerations should have been made before starting to work to a proposal for common EU list of safe countries of origin.
Bodil Valero (GREENS/EFA – Sweden) stated that works were proceeding in the wrong order. For her, the proposal for a regulation on a common list of safe countries of origin should have come after the examination of the countries at issue. She therefore concluded that this list should be eliminated.
Sylvie Guillaume (S&D – France), who was the rapporteur for this session, gave a kind of conclusion on what the Committee was discussing. She said that that was an opportunity to know how to shape the work in the future. She added that such a meeting was a starting point to eliminate differences among national approaches towards safe countries of origin. From her point of view, even if the reports have shown that the seven countries are not safe and therefore could not be included in a list of safe countries of origin, the main issue is that some Member States continue to adopt national lists of safe countries of origin and one day these lists should be replaced by a common EU list.

6. The sixth point on the LIBE agenda was about the ‘Council implementing decision amending Decision 2009/935/JHA as regards the list of third States and organisations with which Europol shall conclude agreements’.
The main point at stake was the joint Europol – Denmark statement of 15 December 2016 to minimise the negative effects of the Danish departure from Europol, from May 1st 2017 following the referendum in Denmark on 3 December 2015.   The debate was opened by an intervention of  the EC Director Luigi Soreca in charge of the EU Internal Security strategy. Mr Soreca stated that the European Commission wanted to fully respect the Denmark’s democratic choice of departing from Europol. According to him, since Denmark is no longer a member of Europol, the country has to be considered as a third country but to date there is no regulation concerning the relations between Europol and third countries and therefore the EU has to act as soon as possible in order to define operational arrangements to minimise the effects of the departure of Denmark from Europol.
He explained in fact that Denmark’s contribution to Europol was very effective and that the EC and the Council Presidency were  preparing the necessary legal steps in order to provide a swift procedure in order to find an agreement by 1 May 2017.
The Council Presidency representative stated the importance of Denmark’s contribution to Europol and he said that during 2016 Denmark was active in priority sectors such as theft, robbery and fight against terrorism. In his opinion, Denmark constitutes an important source of information for Europol. As a result, an agreement between Denmark and Europol should be concluded in order to avoid an operational gap and allow Denmark to continue to be an active contributor even if the country cannot participate in the decision making process of Europol anymore because it has officially departed from it.
The Danish representatives expressed their willingness to work for the conclusion of a Europol – Denmark agreement as soon as possible and in any case by 1 May 2017. They stated that the Danish government was fully respecting the result of the referendum and clarified that the referendum was not a rejection of the important work done by Europol and Denmark in the past. They also claimed that it was in the interest of Denmark to continue its cooperation with Europol in order to fight against international terrorism and contribute to the general security of all the Members States.
MEPs interventions:
Agustín Díaz De Mera García Consuegra (EPP – Spain) said that Denmark was a clear vital partner for the security of the European Union. For him, Denmark should conclude an agreement with Europol as soon as possible and in any case before 1 May in order to let the country continue to do its works within the framework of this cooperation agreement.
Morten Helveg Petersen (ALDE – Denmark) said that it could not be admitted that Denmark was leaving Europol without an agreement. He expressed his support to the Danish connections to Europol, even though it was clear for him that Denmark could remain a full member of Europol because of the referendum.
Cornelia Ernst (GUE/NGL – Germany) raised some concerns about the fact the Denmark would not be able to access to the Europol database anymore and that there would be a need  data exchange between Europol and Denmark with possible consequences on data protection. She also said that a solution should be found as soon as possible. According to her, an agreement should be concluded since “the situation is a sort of walking into a grey zone now”. In her opinion, it is important to deal with the reality but some precision has to be done on the legal framework.
Luigi Soreca, speaking for the EU commission, replied to the MEPs’ interventions and  confirmed that concerns on data protection were correct because Denmark would not be able to access the Europol database anymore.
He also added that such an agreement was only a temporary measure because the EU should require a tighter cooperation with Denmark in the future. He stated therefore that some clauses could be added in the Europol – Denmark agreement in order to provide a framework for a stronger cooperation in the future.

7. The seventh point of the LIBE agenda was the ‘Structured dialogue with the Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos’ on the progresses achieved during 2016 as well as the priorities for the next months.
Firstly, Mr Avramopoulos dealt with the terrible weather conditions across Europe and talked about the difficult task to put into place new actions aiming to manage the current migratory crisis. He said that cooperation and coordination among different EU actors were needed in order to help migrants left out in the cold in Greece, Bulgaria and Italy and that the European  Union should provide the necessary support for the relocation of migrants and assure that relocation is done as soon as possible and in respect of human rights.
He also said that Europol would assist Italy in its relocation of migrants, especially unaccompanied minors, and it would provide secure communication channel and play the role of facilitator if needed.
The EU Commissioneer stressed also the importance of the efforts for return and readmission procedures conducted during 2016.
In his opinion, closer coordination with partner countries is required with the countries identified as a priority (Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Senegal and Ethiopia).
He also talked about migration and he stated that the situation was still unsatisfactory for migrant children coming to Europe and that the EU should need to reform its legislation on the protection of unaccompanied migrants. He also clarified that special procedures or accelerated procedures should be applied to unaccompanied minors only for justified reasons.
As far as the key priorities for the next months are concerned, Avramopoulos affirmed that it would be necessary to work for a reform of the EU asylum system, the reinforcement of Eurodac and other agencies concerned with asylum, the overcoming the Dublin system in accordance with principle of solidarity and the reinforcement of the EU external dimension for return and resettlement measures.
He also talked about the interconnection between migration and security framework and said that the EU would need more secure borders as well as more rapid and active actions undertaken by coastguard agencies.
He mentioned the need to improve security agreements with Serbia and Macedonia and to ensure that external border controls were reinforced as soon as possible. According to him, the EU should do  everything possible in order to safeguard Schengen and the right of free movement.
Cooperation should be intensified as well in order to prevent radicalisation and fight against terrorism and more should have to be done in the field of information and data exchange.
On data retention, Avramopoulos said that discussions were required about national data retention schemes in accordance with EU data protection regulation.
For him, the Member States should prove that they are united in order to face the security and migration challenges for the year 2017.
On a possible agreement with Libya, he affirmed the a duplication of the EU-Turkey agreement could not be possible because in Libya the situation was not the same as in Turkey. Finally, on security he said that the EU should require stronger efforts for border control and coast guard measures in order to put into place a comprehensive European strategy against terrorism, populism and xenophobia.
MEPs interventions:
Judith Sargentini (Greens/EFA – Netherlands) raised concerns about populism and the necessity to fight it. In her opinion, resettlement dealings are not trustworthy anymore and the consequence is that the EU is becoming more repressive in its migration policy, as shown by the EU-Turkey agreement and a possible agreement with Libya. She thought such a repressive orientation was not the right way to reduce populism.
Caterina Chinnici (S&D – Italy) talked about the situation of migrant children and unaccompanied minors and the dramatic conditions on the Greek islands. In particular, she affirmed that more intervention was required in order to help unaccompanied minors who were facing serious problems of identification. She also asked about the possible mechanisms which the EU could adopt to correctly identify unaccompanied minors.
According to Carlos Coelho (PPE – Portugal), the EU should be able to deliver an improved Schengen Information System (SIS) because the recent attacks in Berlin have made clear that there are still gaps in the EU information system and that the EU databases need to be improved.
Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (EPP – Sweden) showed her commitment to child migrants and to the implementation of a strategic approach on unaccompanied migrants in order for them to remain under the protection system.
According to Elly Schlein (S&D – Italy), the situation of migrants across the Mediterranean is  shameful and unacceptable for the European Union. She asked why the EU was not doing anything to stop this situation and she mentioned a call by Amnesty International asking the European Union to transfer Greek people from the island to the mainland.
Cécile Kyenge (S&D – Italy) said that 2017 would be a crucial year to make progress in migration and security but she asked how the EU would be able to find new orientations in its migration policy if it possessed the same instruments as before.
Salvatore Domenico Pogliese (EPP – Italy) stated that migrant relocation was representing the biggest problem of the EU migration policy. He also affirmed he was in favour of an agreement with Libya and other partner countries, since these agreements would be necessary to stop the movement of people in the Mediterranean.
Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar (S&D – Spain) said that he believed that one of the main issue the EU was facing had to do with the lack of legal paths in humanitarian visa legislation.

7. The seventh point of the 23-24 January 2016 LIBE meeting was about the consideration of amendments on the own-initiative report by the European Parliament on ‘Fundamental rights implications of Big Data: privacy, data protection, non-discrimination, security and law-enforcement’.
Ana Gomes (S&D – Portugal), rapporteur for this session, said that around 250 amendments were presented for the report.
She said that large public and private investment would be needed to reinforce privacy in the smart devices. She also added that  formal and informal cooperation between legislators, the EU institutions and industries could be relevant in order to carry out prior impact assessments in accordance with an ethical code respecting privacy and data protection.
MEPs interventions:
Morten Helveg Petersen (ALDE – Denmark) said he was satisfied with the report and  proposed amendments on data security safeguards as well as on the strengthening open government data.
Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL – France) said it was a difficult report due to the quite limited margin of initiative. She also raised some points to be improved, such as the risks of stigmatisation and the prevention of data anonymization prevention. In addition, she talked about the relevance of education, which in her opinion is the best weapon in order to teach users how to deal with the issue of data protection.
Ana Gomes ended the session just thanking all the participants for their contributions.

8.The last point dealt with the ‘LIBE mission to Sweden – 19-20 September 2016’. The LIBE delegation went to Sweden to visit a migrant reception centre. The outcome of this visit was presented during the Committee meeting.
The LIBE delegation concluded the Swedish authorities were doing lots of efforts to provide migrants with the social services needed. Sweden was reported to have adopted efficient border control measures as well. It should be noted that an average of 45 people a day try to cross the border with Denmark to enter in Sweden. Some concerns emerged when the LIBE delegation examined the situation of unaccompanied minors in Sweden: a lack of adequate measures to control unaccompanied minors was reported, with some negative impact on missing children, respect of human rights and child abuses. The delegation also had the opportunity to talk to an NGO which was helping unaccompanied children. This was an extraordinary example of integration and it was really amazing and heartening to see young people wishing to integrate and be helped by the Swedish citizens.
MEPs interventions:
Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (EPP – Sweden) said that one of main issues her country was facing was the lack of resources and coordination to manage the situation of unaccompanied children. She mentioned the difficulties about child missing which are mainly due to a lack of sufficient control by the police. She also raised the issue concerning unaccompanied children who arrive in Sweden without documents. Most of the time, these children are sent back to Denmark because the national authorities don’t know how to deal with them. Even though such an act does not represent a violation of the non-refoulement principle since Denmark is a EU country, according to EU legislation a minor should never be sent back if he/she asks for asylum. In her opinion, this is an unacceptable situation and there is still a lot to be improved.
Kristina Winberg (EFDD – Sweden) said that the situation in Sweden was reported to very difficult, especially for unaccompanied migrants, because lots of migrants were coming to Swede. According to her, the EU needs to reinforce its controls at the external borders before worrying about the internal ones.

(*) FREE GROUP trainee

 

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