Council continues debates on the Proposal regarding the Framework Decision on Transfer of proceedings in criminal matters

The orientation debate held in the Council on Monday 30 November on the framework decision on the transfer of proceedings in criminal matters (*) (Interinstitutional Procedure 2009/0811, Council document 13504/09) highlighted that currently there are several different legal possibilities to transfer criminal proceedings within the Union and this contributes to legal uncertainty, incompatibility between legal systems and is contrary to the Treaty objective of creating an Area of justice within the Union. The Presidency is convinced that transfer of proceedings is a missing link in the cooperation between Member States and that a provision on the creation of jurisdiction would become a cornerstone in such cooperation.
According to the Council Press Release progress has been made on several provisions. There remain, however, outstanding questions related to an essential element of this draft legislation, namely the question of jurisdiction. Ministers held a substantial discussion on the principle of jurisdiction to be used for future work on this dossier.
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From the 1st of January Europol become operational as a full EU Agency

On January 1st the Europol Convention signed in ’98 will be definitely over and the Council Decision 2009/371/JHA adopted on 6 April 2009 will become fully operational.
Following the new legal basis , comparable to the one’s of Eurojust, the Europol mandate could be adapted more rapidly in response to trends in crime and every time that new tasks will be needed or should be modified there be no more need of a five years lasting procedure to ratify amending protocols (as it happened for the ones negotiated in 2000,2202 and 2003).
Moreover, instead of the Member States finances, Europol will from 2010 be financed by the EU budget and its officials and other servants will have the same statute of the ones serving the other EU institutions.
On November 30th the JHA Council adopted the latest implementing decisions needed to make Europol fully operational at the beginning of the new year in its new shape.
A first proposal was focused Europol’s relations with partners, including the exchange of personal data and classified information , the second determined the list of third States and organisations with which Europol shall conclude agreements, the third was focused on the rules for Europol analysis work and the fourth on the Europol rules on confidentiality.
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The Council signes the provisional agreement on SWIFT

Despite the European Parliament concerns, the Council has signed the last day before the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on Novembre 30th, an EU-US agreement on the processing and transfer of financial messaging data for the fight against terrorism. The agreement will be provisionnally applicable from 1 February 2010 and will expire on 31 October 2010.

However, due to the reservations put forward by two Member States the agreement has not been formally concluded under the Nice Treaty so that at the entry into force of the new Treaty on December 1st a new legal regime has entered into force which require for the conclusion the approbation by the European Parliament.

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Borders / Visas : Published the Regulation allowing a Visa Waiver for citizen of Serbia, Montenegro and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

With five Western Balkan countries — Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia — Visa Facilitation Agreements entered into force on 1 January 2008, as a first concrete step forward along the path set out by the Thessaloniki agenda towards a visa-free travel regime for the citizens of Western Balkan countries.

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A new European Union after Lisbon?

After many years of skirmishes, referendums and tense debates, the Treaty of Lisbon finally entered into force on 1 December 2009.

The institutional framework of the European Union will finally become more transparent and streamlined although a few exceptions remain for the opt-outs granted to the United Kingdom, Ireland, Poland and Czech Republic.

The European Parliament will have (almost) full legislative powers and the European Court of Justice will monitor adherence to and respect of the rule of law in (almost) all domains falling under the European Union competence.

The European Community will therefore disappear after fifty-two years of honourable service. It will be incorporated within the European Union which will not hide its political vocation any further by pretending to be an economic body, as “eurosceptic” countries wanted it to be.

This arm wrestling, lasted for almost thirty years. It began with the Council of the European Union in London in 1981 when the foreign affairs ministers of Germany and Italy, namely Genscher and Colombo, presented a project for a “European Act”. Its aim was to develop political cooperation as well as promote the culture, fundamental rights and harmonisation of national legislations outside the domains already covered by the Community treaties, together with the fight against terrorism and criminality.
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