NEW!! : subscribe to the first summer school on the EAFSJ…



Roma, 8-11 July
Sala conferenze Fondazione Basso – via della Dogana Vecchia, 5 – Roma

The European Area of Freedom Security and Justice (EAFSJ): scope, objectives, actors and dynamics.

Night view of Europe

Aim: to take stock of the current state of EAFSJ and of its foreseeable evolution within the next multiannual program 2015-2019 (to be adopted under Italian Presidency at the beginning of the next legislature).
Lenght: 4 one day modules
Subscriptions: on line on the Fondazione Basso internet site :
Participation fees:

Euro 480,00 (ORDINARY FEE).
(Bank Account of Fondazione Lelio e Lisli Basso – Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Ag. Senato Palazzo Madama: IBAN IT18I0100503373000000002777 ).
Subscriptions should be submitted before June 15th.The Summer School will take place only if a minimum number of subscribers is reached !For further information : tel. 0039.06.6879953 –
Languages: lessons will be mainly in Italian (some lessons will be in English and French), teaching material will be in Italian and/or English, French.
English/Italian translation will be available.
The programme is on the web-site of Fondazione Basso ( -Tel. 06.6879953 – email:

July 8th
A Constitutional and Institutional perspective
09h00 am – 06h30 pm

Opening speeches:
Valerio Onida: Freedom, Security and Justice related policies from a constitutional perspective and in relation with international and supranational dimensions
Stefano Manservisi: After the Stockholm Programme : how to preserve the specificity of the European Area of freedom security and Justice related policies by integrating them in the general EU governance and legal framework?


Freedom Security and Justice as the core of the common constitutional european heritage
Protecting fundamental rights: the impact of the accession of the EU to the ECHR. A common European Constitutional Heritage arising from the Council of Europe and European Union European Courts. What can be expected from the Strasbourg Human Rights Court in areas related to the FSJ?.

Speaker: Giuseppe Cataldi

Freedom Security and Justice as the core of the common constitutional european heritage
Promoting fundamental rights: the European Charter and its impact on EU policies. Even if the Charter does not extend the EU competencies it is now a constitutional parameter to be taken in account not only by the European judges but also by the EU legislature, even for policies designed with a more limited scope.

Speaker:Ezio Perillo


Evolution and transformation of the principle of Primacy of EU law. Dialogue and mutual influence of European and national Constitutional Courts.
Fifty years after the landmark case of Van Gend en Loos and four years after the Lissabon-Urteil (Bundesverfassungsgericht judgment of 30.6.2009), the tensions between EU “limits” and national “counter-limits” could arise again notably in the EAFSJ area.

Speaker: Oreste Pollicino

The EAFSJ a cross road of European and national founding values (art. 2), as well as for fundamental and European citizenship rights. How manage the indivisibility of rights and a Member States differentiated integration ?
(Opt-in Opt-out Countries). How far can the EU impact on Member States internal legislation (Towards a “reverse Solange” mechanism)? How the EU and Council of Europe can influence national fundamental rights related policies

Speaker: Nicoletta Parisi

The EAFSJ as supranational constitutional area of democracy. From National State to the European Union: what kind of relation between national and european legal orders ?
Sixty years of EU integration have changed the concept of democracy and sovereignty. There is a metamorphosis in National State’ s traditional role and its constitutional elements such as territory, citizenship and sovereign power. The Kantian vision of a peaceful cosmopolitan project mirrors the category of EU citizenship arising in the EAFSJ. Today Habermas developed the concept of “Constitutional patriottism”, underlying a “constitutionalisation” of the European supranational area. What are the pro and cons of this EU perspective ? The post-Lisbon Treaty stressed that the EAFSJ is becoming the embryo of a European public sphere as well as of a first example of supranational democracy.

Speaker: Francesca Ferraro


July 9th
Institutional dynamics and EU practices
09h30 am – 06h30 pm

The EAFSJ before Lisbon. The intergovernmental cooperation. From “TREVI” via “Schengen” to Amsterdam. The first phase.
How formerly excluded EAFSJ related policies have been integrated into the EU framework. TREVI cooperation, the Schengen agreement (1985) and its 1990 Implementing Convention as well as the Dublin Convention on Asylum.
The emerging notion of supranational space in the Single European Act (1986). The mutual recognition principle in the Internal Market and in EAFSJ-related policies. The Schengen Acquis in the EU legal framework from Amsterdam to Lisbon. Opt-in and Opt-out Countries: the impact of differentiated integration. Schengen relevance and ECJ jurisprudence on the preservation of the Schengen system consistency. From cooperation to integration.

Speaker: Dino Rinoldi


The EAFSJ after Lisbon (1). How the EAFSJ specificity has been preserved by progressively integrating it in the ordinary EU (communitarized) legal institutional framework. The impact on the EU institutions and on the MS.
Dynamics and the role of the Institutions in promoting, negotiating and implementing the EAFSJ-related policies. European Council, European Parliament, Council of the European Union, Commission and Court of Justice interplaying in the EAFSJ. The preparatory work conducted behind the scene by the Commission Directorates General, the Council working bodies – COREPER, CATS, COSI – and the EP parliamentary committees

Speaker: Antonio Caiola

The EAFSJ after Lisbon (2) How democratic principles are fulfilled in the EAFSJ. The impact of the EP on legislative procedures.
The interparliamentary dialogue and the way how the EP and national parliaments play their role when verifying the subsidiarity and proportionality principles in the EAFSJ policies. The emerging role at EU level of “political families” represented at national European and international level (European political parties, EP political groups, national parties).

Speaker: Emilio De Capitani


The EAFSJ after Lisbon (3). How EU policies are framed and implemented at national level. How cooperation, mutual recognition and harmonisation are implemented
How EAFSJ policies are implemented at national level. Problems and opportunities arising notably when implementing the mutual recognition of other EU countries’ measures. How intertwined are the EU and national administration in the EAFSJ related policies. Is there complementarity between EU and National strategies? The EU financial levy as a facilitator of mutual EU-national coordination. The emerging role of EU Authorities and Agencies as a support and meeting space also for national administrations (Ombudsman, FRA, EDPS, FRONTEX, EASO, EMCDDA, EUROPOL, OLAF, CEPOL, EUROJUST, …).

Speaker: Lorenzo Salazar


July 10th
An European space of freedom and rights
09h30 am- 06h30 pm

The EAFSJ after Lisbon (4) Placing the individuale at the heart of EU activities
How EU legislation implements the principles of equality and non-discrimination. The ECJ jurisprudence and the phenomenon of reverse discrimination. EU citizenship-related jurisprudence. Judicial action at national and European level founded on the EU Charter. Infringement of EU founding values and fundamental rights as possible exceptions to the mutual recognition obligations? Fundamental Rights Agency.

Speaker: Valentina Bazzocchi

The EU evolving framework of Transparency, access to documents, principle of good administration, and of classified information
After Lisbon a more transparent independent and efficient EU administration can be founded on Arts 15 and 298 of the TFEU as well as Arts 41 and 42 of the European Charter. However the close intertwining of the EU and the Member States has created a hybrid system of European Classified Information (EUCI), which is particularly relevant in the EAFSJ policies. How do European and national institutions implement the EU principles? How is the principle of good administration secured? What role should the EU Ombudsman play?

Speaker: Deirdre Curtin

Protection of Personal Data. The EU reform.
After the Lisbon Treaty and the merger of the so-called first and third pillars, protection of personal data can be framed in a globally consistent manner. Informational self determination, protection against possible abuses by the private sector as well as by public sector (law enforcement authorities) can now be framed at European level by taking stock of the lessons learned at national and international level (Council of Europe, OECD). How to preserve the role of national authorities and of the new coordinating body.

Speaker: Vanna Palumbo

Freedom of movement border integrated management
Freedom of movement of European citizens as well as of third country nationals in the EU remains a central and controversial issue. The integrated external border management is progressively framed at legislative level (borders, visas..) and implemented at operational level also thanks to the emerging role of Frontex and of the new European networks (SIS II – VIS). New opportunities as well as risks emerge in the definition of the EU-Member State management of internal and external borders

Speaker: Luisa Marin


European Migratory policies
Objectives, legal framework and operational setting of the EU-Member State policies. Five years after the European Pact on Asylum and Migration (2008), what lessons can be drawn for the next (2015-2019) multiannual programme? What improvements can be foreseen for the EU migration governance at central and national level? How are the Member States implementing the EU legislation? What are the main external aspects of the EU migration policy?

Speaker: Henry Labayle

The European common asylum system (and of EASO and EURODAC)
After the first generation of EU “minimum” rules the EU has now established the Common European Asylum System foreseen by Art. 18 of the Charter and Art 78 of the TFEU by taking account of the jurisprudence of the Luxembourg and Strasbourg Courts. At national level high standards should be granted to avoid the problems found for instance with Greece when implementing the Dublin system. The principle of solidarity still seems to be underexploited. Attention should be paid to the new role of EASO (Reg. (EU) No 439/2010) as well as to the implementation of the EURODAC system.

Speaker: Patricia Van de Peer


July 11
An European space of security and justice
09h30 am -06h30 pm

Judicial cooperation in civil matters; complement of the freedom of movement?
Judicial cooperation in civil matters has been one of the most dynamic domains after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. Enhanced cooperation took place in matrimonial matters and intellectual property. Special attention will be reserved for the recently revised Brussels I Regulation (which abolished the “exequatur” procedure) as well as for the new Regulations on succession and wills and on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters.

Speaker: Filomena Albano

Internal security strategy: crisis prevention and management.
Special attention will be paid to the implementation of the 2010 European Internal Security Strategy and its impact on the cooperation between the EU institutions and agencies as framed by the “Policy Cycle” for the 2013-2017 period. There will also be a presentation of the implementation of PRUM cooperation and of the “availability principle” as well as the way how security- and intelligence-related information is exchanged notably within the framework of the so-called “Swedish Initiative”. The role played by COSI, Europol and of the internal security fund will be presented and debated together with the impact of the up-coming “Lisbonisation” of EU measures adopted before the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty

Speaker: Sandro Menichelli


Judicial Cooperation in criminal matters
How judicial cooperation in criminal matters has been developed between countries of different legal traditions (civil and common law). Problems and opportunities arising at each level of cross-border cooperation (open coordination, mutual recognition, legislative harmonisation). The European jurisprudence (Strasbourg and Luxembourg Courts) as well as the impact of the EU Charter. The implementation of the first post-Lisbon measures and impact of the Lisbonisation of former third pillar measures in this domain. Preserving the independence of the judiciary: towards European-wide judiciary quality evaluation systems.

Speaker: Luca De Matteis

The European Public Prosecutor: a pattern also for Member States?
The OLAF Reform and the Eurojust “Lisbonisation” are intermediate phases towards the creation of the European Public Prosecutor’s office (EPPO) (Art. 86 TFEU). The latter will be empowered to bring action also before national courts. The European legislation will determine the general rules applicable to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, the conditions governing the performance of its functions, the rules of procedure applicable to its activities, as well as those governing the admissibility of evidence, and the rules applicable to the judicial review of procedural measures taken by it in the performance of its functions. What will be the impact, the risks and opportunities arising from the creation of this new European Institution?

Speaker: Claudia Gualtieri

How to empower the EU citizens when EAFSJ are shaped and implemented ?
Round Table with the Intervention of Paul Nemitz, Antonie Cahen, Robert Bray Tony Bunyan

Final Debate


The Treaty of Lisbon and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which entered into force on 1 December 2009, constituted an important step both at the legal level and at the political level in the evolution of the European Union. The aim of the EU now is not only “… to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples”, having presided over, since the end of the Second World War, the longest ever period of peace between European States, but also to achieve “… an area of freedom, security and justice with respect for fundamental rights and the different legal systems and traditions of the Member States.”

After the Treaty of Lisbon, the policies already provided for in the Maastricht Treaty within the framework of the so-called “third pillar” and originally focused mainly on intergovernmental cooperation and cooperation between administrations, are now to evolve into European “common policies” directly towards the interests of the individual, who is placed “at the heart of European integration.”

It is a Copernican revolution in so far as the Union is called not only to offer “… its citizens an area of freedom, security and justice without internal frontiers, in which the free movement of persons is ensured in conjunction with appropriate measures with respect to external border controls, asylum, immigration and the prevention and combating of crime” (Art. 3 TEU and Title V TFEU) but also to promote (and not only protect) fundamental rights and prevent all forms of discrimination (Art. 10 TFEU) and strengthen EU citizenship (Arts 18-25 TFEU) and with it the democratic principles on which it is based (Title II TEU).

The fact that the competences related to the ASFJ are now “shared” with the Member States (Art. 4 TEU) and are to be focused on the rights of the person brings about a daily interaction between the national and the European level, bringing into play national and European values, rights and objectives.

The process of reciprocal hybridization between the nascent European model and traditional national models is anything but politically painless, as the experience of almost thirty years of Schengen cooperation shows.

The aim of this Summer School is to assess the progress and difficulties encountered by the European institutions and the Member States in implementing the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the objectives set by the European Council in the “Stockholm Programme” of 10 December 2009.

Based on this evaluation, we intend to shed light on the possible priority bearing in mind that:
– it will be necessary to adjust the secondary legislation of the European Union in the light of the values and principles which are now enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty and the Charter of Fundamental Rights (“Lisbonisation”);
– we shall be in the final phase of the accession of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights;
– at the beginning of the next legislature, we will be entering into a new phase in the European judicial area with the negotiations on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor and the transition to the ordinary legislative procedure with regard to measures of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters adopted before the entry into force of the Treaty (the transitional arrangements end on 1 December 2014);
– Member States which have hitherto enjoyed special treatment (Ireland, Denmark and the United Kingdom in particular) should have clarified their position with respect to the new phase of the ASFJ and the Schengen cooperation.

In the course of the next legislature it will also be necessary to promote greater consistency between European and national strategies related to the European area of freedom, security and justice. Just as in the economic sphere, the divergence of national public policies has put at risk the credibility of the common currency, the diversity of standards for the protection of the rights in Member States is straining mutual trust, the application of the principle of mutual recognition and the very credibility of the nascent “European model”. The strengthening of the operational solidarity between Member States’ administrations – which is being developed for example within the framework of Schengen cooperation – must be accompanied by legislative, operational and financial measures that implement solidarity between European citizens and third-country nationals on the territory of the Union.

In this perspective, Italy may play an important role as the new multi-annual programme for 2015-2019 is to be adopted by the second half of 2014 under the Italian Presidency.


Valerio Onida, Former President of the Italian Constitutional Court
Giuseppe Cataldi, Pro-rettore Università L’Orientale (Napoli)
Oreste Pollicino, Public comparative law Professor  (Università Bocconi – Milano)
Nicoletta Parisi, EU Law Professor  (Università Catania)
Francesca Ferraro, Visiting Professor (Università L’Orientale – Napoli)
Dino Rinoldi, International Law Professor  (Università Cattolica – Piacenza)
Valentina Bazzocchi, PHD EU Law (Alma Mater Università Bologna)
Deirdre Curtin, Professor of European Law (University of Amsterdam – NL),
Luisa Marin, Assistant Professor of European Law (University of Twente – NL)
Henri Labayle, Professeur de Droit international et européen (Université de Pau et des
pays de l’Adour – France)

Representatives and officials of European and national administrations:
Ezio Perillo (European Civil Service Tribunal)
Stefano Manservisi DG of the Commission DG Home
Paul Nemitz Director at the Commission DG Justice
Antoine Cahen, Patricia Van Den Peer, Claudia Gualtieri (European Parliament)
Filomena Albano, Luca De Matteis, Lorenzo Salazar (Italian Justice Ministery)
Sandro Menichelli (UE Italian Permanent Representation )
Vanna Palumbo (Garante Privacy IT)

Representatives of Civil Society:
Tony Bunyan, Director of Statewatch,Emilio De Capitani, FREE Group Secretary and Visiting Professor (Università L’Orientale – Napoli)


WikiLeaks: an increased call for transparency

WikiLeaks’ latest release of classified documents raised deep concern among the United States (US) Government and put into question whether the freedom of expression, as established in the First Amendment of the US Constitution, should be object of revision by amending the Espionage Act of 1917.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said that a criminal investigation of WikiLeaks is continuing even after Mr. Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, was released on bail after surrendering to British authorities on 7th December in connection with a case in Sweden in which two women have accused him of rape and other sexual crimes.

In the meantime the Air Force and the Library of Congress have blocked the WikiLeaks website.

The repeated calls for criminal prosecutions to the funder of WikiLeakes raise a whole series of questions related to the most fundamental questions about freedom of expression and about what the public can know about the actions of its own government and therefore its level of accountability.

The recent US hearing on WikiLeaks, “Hearing on the Espionage Act and the Legal and Constitutional Issues Raised by WikiLeaks“, which took place on the 16th December 2010 took into considerations, among others, these issues and will be therefore be the main source used for the following analysis.

The background

As of 3 January 2011, 1,997 individual cables had been released by WikiLeaks, which has planned to publish 251,287 cables, originating from 274 embassies, dating from 28th December 1966 to 28th February 2010.

According to WikiLeaks’ website the cables are divided in:

15, 652 secret

101,748 confidential

133,887 unclassified.

According to Judge Louie Gohmert the release of documents “threatens our national security, our relations with foreign governments, and continued openness from embassy officials and foreign sources”.

However, Mr. Gates while defining the leaks embarrassing, considers that they have had modest consequences for US policy, so far. Also Thomas Blanton pointed out that although most international affairs scholars consider the cables useful, so far nothing in the diplomatic cables compares to the impact on public policy in 2004 from the leak of the Abu Ghraib photographs, of the secret prisons, or the torture memos, or the Pentagon Papers’ contribution to the end of the Vietnam war.

So, although embarrassing, the cables do not represent a clear danger to the US security and, since unpopularity does not represent a crime as House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers jr pointed out, it is not clear what law has been violated by WikiLeaks.

The existing difficulties in finding a shared opinion of what information is indeed sensitive and what is not, have led to the over-classification of material, as several panellists pointed out during the hearing. In particular, Thomas Blanton, Director of the National Security Archive George Washington University, stated that current and former officials estimate that between 50% to 90% of what is classified is either over-classified or should not be classified at all.

This opinion was further re-affirmed by former Governor of New Jersey Tom Kean, who commenting on the Committee on House Judiciary review on the US Government’s most sensitive records about Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda after 9/11, observed that 75% of what he read that was classified should not have been so. Finally, President Reagan`s National Security Council secretary Rodney McDaniel estimated in 1991 that only 10% of classification was for “legitimate protection of secrets”.

The over-classification of the U.S. government’s national security information means that thousands of soldiers, analysts and officers need access to huge quantities of classified information and this necessary access makes it impossible to effectively protect truly vital secrets, said Mr John Conyers. Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith, who served President George W. Bush as head of the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department, stated that: “a root cause of the perception of illegitimacy inside the government that led to leaking is, ironically, excessive government secrecy.” As Potter Stewart asserted “When everything is classified, then nothing is classified, and the system becomes one to be disregarded by the cynical or the careless, and to be manipulated by those intent on self-protection or self-promotion.”(…) The hallmark of a truly effective internal security system would be the maximum possible disclosure (…) secrecy can best be preserved only when credibility is truly maintained.”

Of course, nobody is in favour of leaks that put people at risk. But as Mr Bill Delahunt (who serve on the Foreign Affairs Committee and had the opportunity to chair the committee on oversight) pointed out, currently there is an overwhelming over-classification of material which calls for a review of the classification procedures.

Thus, if a great amount of information which is currently classified should not have been classified in the first place, what is the liability of WikiLeaks and more in general what are the obligations that an individual not employed by the Government has towards the latter to keep its own secrets?

To answer to these questions it might be useful to compare this situation to the client-attorney relation, explained Professor Geoffrey Stone, former dean of the University Chicago Law School: “The client is free to keep matters secret by disclosing them to no one. He is also free to disclose certain matters to his attorney who is under a legal obligation to respect the confidentiality of a client’s disclosures. In this sense, the attorney is sort of like the government employee. If the attorney violates the privilege by revealing the client’s confidences say to a reporter, then the attorney can be punished for doing so. But the newspaper cannot be constitutionally punished for disseminating the information.”

However, the proposed Shield Act would amend the Espionage Act of 1917 to make it a crime for any person knowingly and wilfully to disseminate, in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States any classified information (…) concerning the human intelligence activities of the United States or (…) concerning the identity of a classified source or informant” working with the intelligence community of the United States.” The proposed Shield Act might be constitutional as applied to a government employee who “leaks” such classified material, but it is unconstitutional as applied to other individuals who might publish or otherwise disseminate such information.

On the basis of the principle of freedom of expression, which stems from the first amendment of the US constitution states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Furthermore, the Supreme Court in the case Bartnicki v. Vopper, held that when an individual receives information from a source who has obtained it unlawfully, that individual may not be punished for publicly disseminating the information, absent the need of the highest order.

Therefore, the suppression of public speech must be the Government’s last rather than first resort in addressing a potential problem. The Government should demonstrate the existence of a clear and present danger before limiting such a right. If there are other means by which government can prevent or reduce the danger, it must exhaust those before it can even entertain the prospect of suppressing the freedom of speech.

On the contrary, Judge Ghomert was of the opinion that nowadays we are confronted with different tools of mass communication compared to the one that were foreseen when the First amendment was written and therefore the boundaries of free speech should be re-thought, so as to balance this freedom with the Government’s need to protect some information.

However, there are very good reasons for the Government to demonstrate a clear and present danger before reducing the freedom of speech and these reasons do not vary depending on different communication tools:

1) The simple fact that the dissemination of such information might in the words of the proposed Act “in any manner prejudice the interests of the United States,” does not mean that the harm outweighs the benefit of publication, as Chairman Conyers noted. 2) A case by case balancing of harm against benefit would be unwieldy, unpredictable, and impracticable. Clear rules are essential in the realm of free speech. That is why the Government has so much authority to restrict the speech of its own employees, rather than insisting that in every case the government demonstrate that the harm outweighs the benefit.

3) There are great pressures that lead both government officials, and even the public, to overstate the potential harm of publication in times of national anxiety. A strict clear and present danger standard serves as a barrier to protect us against that danger, Mr Conyers concluded.

It is evident that, in order to protect effectively real vital information, the classification system should be put under review. Indeed the leaks underline the weaknesses derived from a system not sufficiently transparent.

By focusing on prosecuting WikiLeaks, not only there is a risk of violating one of the fundamental constitutional freedom, but also there is a clear risk of limiting the right of citizens to hold accountable their own Governments democratically elected.

As Mr Delhaunt put it: “Secrecy is the trademark of totalitarism. To the contrary, transparency and openness is what democracy is about”.


The European Union and State Secrets: a fully evolving institutional framework

Many contemporary debates surround the issue of the treatment of confidential information and state secrets both in the United States (1) and the European Union (2) and questions have also been raised over the WikiLeaks phenomenon. It therefore seems timely to try to shed some light on the way confidential information is handled by the European Union institutions, especially since we now have the entry into force of the Treaties of the European Union, on the Functioning of the European Union and the now binding Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Clearly, it is not technically appropriate to talk about state secrets in the case of the European Union, since the latter remains an international organisation entrusted by its Member States to intervene only in those areas established by the founding treaties and to pursue those objectives established by the funding treaties (3). Nevertheless, the European order now spans such a wide range of competences and has developed such a direct relation between citizens and the institutions that the need for transparency and political accountability is as essential for the European Union as it is for its Member States.

As long as the institutions’ work was covered by professional secrecy, there was minimal risk of leaks and any undesirable impact at the national level during the negotiating phases of European measures. Problems related to a different perception of transparency/secrecy were paradoxically raised with the process of democratisation of the European institutions which, due to Maastricht, has been accompanied with the widening of competences. Additionally, and more importantly, the Amsterdam Treaty ensured that the right of access to documents of the Parliament, Council and Commission (art. 255 TEC) was recognised as a fundamental right of European citizens (and of those legally residing in the EU).

In theory, a fundamental right can only be limited by law (4), but the institutional framework resulting from the implementing measures of article 255 ( EC Regulation 1049/01) is a long way from defining a coherent regime of this sensitive topic. To obtain such a result it would have been necessary to mediate between two different juridical traditions which divided (and still divide) some countries; indeed, Northern Europe is traditionally more favourable to transparency needs whereas some southern countries prioritise the efficiency of the decision making process ahead of transparency (5).

This unresolved conflict is reflected in Regulation 1049/01, which regulates for two different regimes, respectively one of a general nature and one of a specific nature. The general one establishes transparency and the right of access to information as the general rule to which it is possible to derogate only under the provisions established by art. 4. Furthermore, it stems from the will of the author who submitted the document to the institution (whether that be another institution, a Member State or a third party). The ratio behind the suppression of the “author rule” as confirmed by the Court (6), is evidently that of avoiding that additional exceptions are added to those already foreseen by law (7), which would have the effect of nullifying the answer to the citizen requesting the access to a document or information (and therefore being incompatible with the principle of certainty of law).

Nonetheless, the general rule of Regulation 1049/01 also presents a significant exception to article 9 (8), which establishes a specific regime for the so-called “sensitive documents” defined as “… documents originating from the institutions or the agencies established by them, from Member States, third countries or International Organisations, classified as ‘TRÈS SECRET/TOP SECRET’, ‘SECRET’ or ‘CONFIDENTIEL’ (9) in accordance with the rules of the institution concerned, which protect essential interests of the European Union or of one or more of its Member States in the areas covered by Article 4(1)(a), notably public security, defence and military matters.

The regime established in Article 9 is evidently a “lex specialis”, which is only applicable to the external affairs and defence matters (the former “second pillar “). However, it is also an incomplete regime because Regulation 1049/01 does not specify (as foreseen in art. 255 TEC which now is replaced by art. 15 TFEU) the general principles regarding the classification of “sensitive” documents. Although the legislator has abdicated its role and referred the decision to the institutions internal regulations, defining such a rule is not a mere organisational matter.

The official justification for this attempt at a ‘quick-fix’ in 2001 was related to the approaching deadline for the approval of the regulation, as foreseen by the Treaty. The real reason, however, was the impossibility to reach an agreement between the European Parliament and the Council over the adoption of NATO standards at the European level.

Due to article 9 and the fact that that it refers to the internal regulation of the institutions, some measures were introduced through the back door, since the internal regulations of the Council and the Commission (11) were accompanied by the need to have the author’s consent when classifying the document as “sensitive”(12).

In this way, not only have NATO standards become de facto the standards of reference for EU classified information (13), although (for the moment) limited to external and defence matters, but it also re-establishes the pre-Maastricht regime for EU citizens and institutions such as the European Parliament and the Court of Justice. Indeed, these actors cannot refer to the “right” of access to information, because the holding institution can always oppose it in the name of non compatibility with NATO standards of internal security regulations (14) or more simply, because the member state or third party (author or co-author) of the classified document does not give its consent to the transmission of the document.

The result is the existence of a conspicuous number of agreements between on one side the Council and the Commission, and the other side third countries, concluded on the basis of an unstable institutional framework (15). Recently, the same agreements have also been concluded by EU agencies such as Europol, Eurojust or Frontex (and therefore outside of the so-called second pillar), on the basis of which the institution and/or the agency (although negotiating on behalf of the European Union) (16) accept that the third country may oppose access to information to EU citizens and even the Parliament and Court.

It is therefore legitimate to wonder about the extent to which this situation is compatible with a European order, allegedly based on the principle of representative democracy (17), fundamental rights and citizenship (18), especially following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. The issue becomes even more urgent in view of the passage to the ordinary legislative regime and to the (almost) total control of the Court of sensitive matters such as police, internal security and intelligence cooperation (which are increasingly labelled as classified information).

Without effective transparency, risks of abuse or “policy laundering” become too high. This risk is also linked to the reproduction of unwanted situations where information in the field of defence and external affairs (Chapter 2 of the EU Treaty) are kept hidden, not only from the European Parliament for the reasons illustrated above, but also form the national parliaments as the information is regarded as a “European” secret. In this context, the national parliaments arguably receive the same level of access as a third country.

Therefore, the result would be the complete absence of a counterbalance mechanism which should characterise every democratic system and which would be strengthened by these security and defence policies under the formal coverage of European “executive privilege”, which not even the President of the United States of America has ever dreamt.

Luckily, the situation is less worrisome in other parts of the treaties, for example where it is established that the European Parliament must ratify international agreements. In this case, the same Treaty foresees that the Parliament “shall be immediately and fully informed at all stages of the procedure” (art. 218 par. 10 TFEU). This should effectively prohibit the Commission (negotiating the agreements) and the Council (concluding the agreements) from being able to make excuses in order to not reveal all the information.

Indeed, the European Parliament has made reference to these provisions throughout the negotiations on SWIFT, ACTA and the access of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights. This initiative raised disconcert from the Council and Commission, who obviously realise how difficult it is to maintain two different regimes in the field of classified information depending on whether the negations of the agreements are conducted on the basis of Article 218 TFEU or on the basis of the competences in the field of security and defense (which are based on Article. 9 of Regulation 1049/01 and/or the internal organisation competence of the Council, Commission and security agencies). If in theory it is possible, although difficult, to differentiate between these two agreements at the European level, it turns into a “probation diabolica” to explain  to a third country why matters such as  the fight against terrorism may sometimes refer to an ordinary regime (article 218 TFEU) or to an extraordinary regime (art. 9 1049/01)

The process of re-negotiating the inter-institutional agreements concerning the European Parliament’s access to classified information is ongoing. A first draft agreement will be reviewed by the Committee on Constitutional Affairs of the European Parliament and a second one will take place between the European Parliament and the Council to modify the 2002 agreement applying Regulation 1049/01 (20).

The problem is that some expression of this agreement (not ratified yet) seem to extend the preventive consent to de-classify the document given by the author from the exceptions of defence and security issues to all the matters of competences of the European Union. Such an iron grip would put the European Parliament in a position leading to its abdication  (21) of the right/duty to exercise the democratic control foreseen by the treaty.

However, the issue remains undefined and contradicting signals are coming from the High Representative. This is important as the High Representative is about to adopt a declaration accompanying the decision which establishes the organisation and functioning of the European external service which “ (…) will be applied mutatis mutandis by the High Representative for agreements falling under her area of responsibility, where the consent of the Parliament is required. The European Parliament will be, in accordance with Article 218 (10) TFEU, immediately and fully informed at all stages of the procedure, including for agreements concluded in the area of CFSP.”

It remains to be seen whether the European institutions will be able to finally overcome the long-lasting inconsistencies of the Regulation 1049/01 by establishing a European matter also in the field of the state secrets or whether, by carrying on the current, judicially confusing paths, once again the task of clarification will be left to the Court.



(1) See the fundamental investigation of the Washington Post on the possible abuses of the documents’ classification from the USA administration since 9/11.

(2) See the current debate at the COPASIR concerning the revision of the Italian law on the “services” and the treatment of the state secret (L. 124/2007)

(3) Concept reaffirmed by the German Constitutional Court in several occasions (including 2009 with the famous Lisbon Urteil) the Union cannot gives itself different or wider competences than those granted by the Member State.

(4) As foreseen by the Member States’ constitutions and by the ECHR.

(5) This is an expression also used by article 207 of the “old” EC Treaty but that the Council has always interpreted as the conditions that allow the representatives of the Member States to change their negotiating positions in complete discretion according to circumstantial needs)

(6) This principle has been reaffirmed also recently by the Court of Justice

Case C‑64/05 P Kingdom of Sweden vs Commission of the European Communities (see: )

(7) In the case of a member State it could be requested to see applied its own national regime and in the case of a third country needs


(9) Strangely enough the Italian version of the Regulation 1049/01 only refers to the category of the “confidential” documents.

(10) It is “…public interest safeguards, namely:— public order, — safeguard of military matters — International relations, — financial, monetary or economy policy  of the Community or Member states

(11)See Council decision 2001/264/CE  19  march 2001 adopting internal security regulation OJ n°101,  11.04.2001 modified following the entry into force of the Lisbon treaty.

(12) The “considering” 15 of the regulation invited the Member states to respect in the name of the principle of loyal cooperation the classifications established by the European institutions so as to avoid leaks related to National security matters “ Even though it is neither the object nor the effect of this Regulation to amend national legislation on access to documents, it is nevertheless clear that, by virtue of the principle of loyal cooperation which governs relations between the institutions and the Member States, Member States should take care not to hamper the proper application of this Regulation and should respect the security rules of the institutions.

(13) European Classified Information  (EUCI)

(14) For obvious reasons and given the peculiar nature and constitutional mission of the European Parliament or the court of Justice.

(15) See as a last example the agreement between the EU and Liechtenstein concerning the security procedures for the Exchange of classified information

(16) Art. 3 of the above mentioned agreement establishes that  “the European Council, the Council of the European Union (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Council’), the General Secretariat of the Council, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the European External Action Service (hereinafter: ‘the EEAS’) and the European Commission. For the purposes of this Agreement, these institutions and entities shall be referred to as ‘the EU»

(17) Artt. 9-12 of the TEU in specific art. 10

(18) Artt.18-24 TFEU

(19). See for example the regime for the treatment of classified information foreseen by the Decision of the Council establishing Europol and the implementing measures concerning the exchange of information with third countries: These provisions, which entered into force in January 2010 should be interested on the basis of the regime before the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in virtue of the transitory provisions foreseen by protocol  n° 36.

(20) The text of the inter-institutional agreement EP-Council is available at:

(21) Obviously it would be only a de fact abdication given that the inter-institutional agreement cannot modify a juridical situation defined by a treaty. However, the signal is worrying as much as the stall of the revision of Regulation 1049/01 and the juridical vacuum under which the EU institutions (and agencies) are now operating, since they should have defined their own norms in the field of transparency/confidentiality on the basis of principles that still need to be defined after Lisbon.

(22) See in specific the declaration f the high represntative: ) “.. The results of the ongoing negotiations on the Framework Agreement between the European Parliament and the Commission on negotiations of international agreements will be applied mutatis mutandis by the HR for agreements falling under her area of responsibility, where the consent of the Parliament is required. The European Parliament will be, in accordance with Article 218 (10) TFEU, immediately and fully informed at all stages of the procedure, including for agreements concluded in the area of CFSP.. (…) 4. The present system of providing confidential information on CSDP missions and operations (through the IIA 2002 ESDP EP Special Committee) will be continued. The HR can also provide access to other documents in the CFSP area on a need to know basis to other MEPs, who, for classified documents, are duly security cleared in accordance with applicable rules, where such access is required for the exercise of their institutional function on the request of the AFET Chair, and, if needed, the EP President. The HR will, in this context, review and where necessary propose to adjust the existing provisions on access for Members of European Parliament to classified documents and information in the field of security and defence policy (2002 IIA ESDP). Pending this adjustment, the HR will decide on transitional measures that she deems necessary to grant duly designated and notified MEPs exercising an institutional function easier access to the above information..”

Action Plan on the Stockholm Programme released by Statewatch

European Commission: Stockholm Programme: Statewatch Analysis: Action Plan on the Stockholm Programme: A bit more freedom and justice and a lot more security (pdf) by Tony Bunyan: “The “harnessing of the digital tsunami” as advocated by the EU Future Group and the surveillance society, spelt out in Statewatch’s “The Shape of Things to Come” is embedded in the Commission’s Action Plan as it is in the Stockholm Programme….There is no mention of the European Security Research Programme (ESRP). Much of the technological development is being funded under the 1.4 billion euro security research programme. See: Statewatch/TNI report: Neoconopticon: EU security-industrial complex.

Statewatch Briefing: European Commission: Action Plan on the Stockholm Programme (pdf) Comments by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex – Full-text: Communication from the Commission: Delivering an area of freedom, security and justice for Europe’s citizens Action Plan Implementing the Stockholm Programme (COM 171/2010, pdf)

Brandeis in Italy: The Privacy Issues in the Google Video Case

Reports of the recent decision by an Italian court to issue suspended sentences against three Google exes for posting a video of a young person with downs syndrome being taunted has sparked a flurry of First Amendment concern. The opinion of reporters, at least in the U.S., has been nearly unanimous — “What were they thinking??” “This will kill the Internet.” “The Italians just don’t get it.”

There is no published opinion yet, so this is very much a first impression based on a quick review of the law in the case, but I was struck by the similarity of the Italian decision with the birth of the right of privacy in the United States.

Continue reading “Brandeis in Italy: The Privacy Issues in the Google Video Case”

Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA): towards a legalised regime of privacy invasion?

The European Union, represented by the European Commission, is negotiating – since 2007- a Multilateral Agreement on Anti-Counterfeiting Trade (ACTA) with nine other countries, including the United States of America, Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, and Switzerland.

The purpose of such an agreement is to strengthen the enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and to combat large-scale counterfeiting and piracy by defining a legal framework for the enforcement of IPR in particular in the digital environment via:

  • increased international cooperation and
  • deployment of IPR enforcement practices.

Due to the potential impact that such an agreement may have on individuals’ privacy, the implications related to each of the above-mentioned elements should be carefully evaluated in view of the respect of fundamental rights.

Continue reading “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA): towards a legalised regime of privacy invasion?”

American authorities access to banks data: challenges…and perspectives

The EU parliamentary Committee on Civil Liberties provoked a certain sensation by deciding on the 4 February to suggest to the European Parliament plenary not to conclude the interim agreement which allows the Treasury Department of The United States of America to access financial data processed by SWIFT (already published in this blog).

What the press has not explained is that this negative vote does not end the transatlantic cooperation in this domain. In fact, the second paragraph of the Recommendation invites the Commission and the Council to submit proposals complying with the new legal framework established by the Treaty of Lisbon.

Indeed, a successful conclusion of the agreement signed by the Council seems to be too shy and too advanced at the same time.

Too shy since the data protection legislation applied will remain that of the Member State where the data are stored (the Netherlands) or that of the State controlling SWIFT (Belgium). Furthermore, the authority verifying the admissibility of the request will also belong to one of these two countries despite the participation of the European Union.

The transatlantic legal framework will be the Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance between the European Union and the United States of America, or if the conclusions will not be ratified, the bilateral agreements EU-Netherlands and EU-Belgium.

As the European Parliament’s rapporteur points out the type of access to financial data as foreseen by the TFTP is not admissible on the basis of the ordinary procedures applied in case of judicial cooperation in criminal matters. In this respect there is a risk to exceed the scope of the agreement by giving for granted the existence of a clarity in the field of data protection as well as police and judicial cooperation which does not exist not even between the Member States of the European Union.

In this regard, suffice to say that the European Union does not have a comprehensive legal framework to adequately face internal security challenges related to data protection in the field of security and police and judicial cooperation despite the numerous requests made by the European Parliament. This kind of solidarity has started with Schengen although it does not involve all the Member States.

 At this stage it is inevitable to recall the old saying “nemo plus juris transferre potest quam ipse habet”, i.e. the European Union cannot transfer more powers of what itself has.

Indeed, the European Union has given to the United States all it could on the basis of the current legislation on the Agreement on mutual legal assistance between the European Union and the United States of America concluded in Washington on 28 October 2009.

The Agreement foresees:

  •  The possibility to access banks’ data of natural or legal persons provided the latter are identified (see article 4 of the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance) on the basis of the European legislation in this domain (Third Directive on Money Laundering and Financial Information Regulation)
  • The possibility to extradite individuals to the United States applying the same conditions of the European Arrest Warrant
  • the possibility to create common investigation teams (on the basis of European norms concerning Europol and the Convention on Criminal Assistance).

This said, it is still technically feasible to make the transatlantic cooperation even more ambitious and make sure that the jurisprudence produced by international agreements may be translated in internal legislative measures.

To reach this goal it will then be necessary to put forward a series of simultaneous political operations which have been impossible to develop before.

Now, the first question concerns whether the American pressure will convince Member States to finally set up the necessary legal framework.

Secondly and more significantly, it is necessary to understand whether the requests put forward by the United States are compatible with the Treaty of Lisbon and the Charter on Fundamental Rights.

Thirdly, it is necessary to identify which European authority will be responsible for the Member States. For instance, one possibility to assess will be whether it would be possible to extend Eurojust and/or Europol’s powers instead of that of Dutch and Belgian authorities, ensuring at the same time loyal cooperation between the Member States.

Moreover, challenges do not only arise on this part of the Atlantic. The American negotiator is facing other equally demanding questions. For example, in case the authority in charge of the conclusions of the Agreement remains the Administration it will not be possible to seal an “executive agreement” since -by definition- it cannot modify the legal status of the American and European citizens.

What is more, an executive agreement will hardly secure the respect of those guarantees which the Charter requires avoiding hazardous appeals in front of the European and National Courts (see Karlsruhe …).

To do that it would be necessary, as in the case of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters to pass the Congress and obtain two-thirds of the votes in the Senate. Once again, as it is often the case during the challenging evolution of the European Union, with fantasy and mutual respect it will be maybe possible to build a Transatlantic area of freedom, security and justice to which the Stockholm Programme and the inter-ministerial declaration referred on 28 October.

The new powers of the Court of Justice after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty

The press release published on November 30th by the Court of Justice is worth reading by everybody interested in the European Law as well by the every individual whishing to bthe protection of its rights.
The very essential and clear text is the following:

The Treaty of Lisbon and the Court of Justice of the European Union

The Treaty of Lisbon, which was signed on 13 December 2007 by the 27 Heads of State or Government of the Member States of the Union, comes into force on 1 December 2009. It amends the two fundamental treaties – the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty establishing the European Community, with the latter to be known in future as the ‘Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union’ (TFEU). (1)
The Treaty of Lisbon makes changes to the organisation and jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Continue reading “The new powers of the Court of Justice after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty”

After Lisbon, still a bumpy road for transparency in the EU institutions..

Two weeks after the entry into force of the new Lisbon Treaty the main objective of which is to increase the democratic accountability of all the EU institutitions the European Parliament has invited the Council and the Commission to work together on the reform of the EU legislation in this sensitive matter building on the new art. 15 (*) of the Treaty on the functionning of the European Union.
Not surprisingly the debate has showed that the Strasbourg plenary is still alone in the search of more transparency.
The proof of it is the fact that on its side the Commission did’nt move of one comma of its 2008 contested initiative legislative proposal and even confirmed it as a basic text of the legislative work also under the Lisbon Treaty even if it is now clearly outdated face to the last two years of progressive judgments of the Court of Justice and to the Lisbon Treaty which impose the principle of transparency to all the EU Institutions, bodies and Agencies.
On its side the Council has taken an even more restrictive approach by adopting the minimum of possible amendments to its internal rules of procedures following the entry into force of the new Treaty and of some of its directly applicable rules (such as the one referring to the legislative proceedings), followed by the European Council itself where the Head of State and Governement have taken the confidentiality as a general principle in their internal rules.
Continue reading “After Lisbon, still a bumpy road for transparency in the EU institutions..”