PEERS : Data protection rights and administrative proceedings

ORIGINAL PUBLISHED ON EU LAW ANALYSIS
Thursday, 17 July 2014

Steve Peers

What rights do asylum-seekers have as regards data protection law? This issue was clarified in today’s CJEU judgment in YS and M and S, which could also have broader relevance for any case which involves access to documents in the context of administrative procedures.

Both cases involved asylum-seekers in the Netherlands, who sought access to file notes concerning their case. However, they did not rely on the EU’s asylum procedures Directive, which states that asylum-seekers must be given the reasons for negative decisions and are entitled to access reports about the interviews held with them, but does not make mention of access to any other document. The second-phase procedures Directive, applicable to applications made after 20 July 2015, adds a right of access to country-of-origin information and expert advice which was used in making a decision on the asylum-seeker’s case, but still does not extend to a right to the entire file.

So they invoked the data protection Directive instead. The first question in this respect was whether the legal analysis in the file concerning their case was ‘personal data’ within the meaning of the Directive. According to the CJEU, it was not, for although that analysis ‘may contain personal data, it does not in itself constitute such data within the meaning of’ that Directive. That analysis ‘is not information relating to the applicant for a residence permit, but’ rather ‘information about the assessment and application by the competent authority of that law to the applicant’s situation’, based on the personal data available to the authorities.

The Court further opined that this was consistent with the purpose of the Directive, which was to ensure the right to privacy, including the check on the accuracy of the data and the correction of inaccurate data. A different approach would amount to ‘the right of access to administrative documents’, which was not the point of the Directive. It justified its analysis by analogy with the Bavarian Lager judgment, in which it had ruled that the Directive did not have the purpose of opening up the transparency of EU decision-making.

The second point was the extent of access to the personal data (as defined by the Court) which was being processed. On this point, the CJEU rejected the argument that the entire file document had to be made available, and instead stated that it was sufficient to give data subjects an intelligible summary of the personal data being processed.

Finally, the national court had asked about the possible application of Article 41 of the Charter, which sets out the right to good administration. The CJEU distinguished its prior case law, and asserted that this Charter right applied only to EU bodies, not to national administrations. But the right to good administration could still be invoked against national authorities as a general principle, as distinct from a Charter right.

Comments

The Court’s analysis of the main data protection issues here is not very convincing. There is nothing in the text of either the data protection Directive or the asylum procedures Directive that would suggest a distinction between administrative documents which contain personal data, and other types of collection of personal data. Quite clearly asylum-seekers do have an interest in knowing how their personal data is being processed in respect of an analysis of their application, and of correcting that personal data if it is correct.

To argue that the data protection Directive does not give access to administrative documents is a straw man argument. The question is not whether it aims to give access to all administrative documents, but only whether it gives access to those which contain personal data. The comparison with the Court’s Bavarian Lager judgment makes no sense either, for in that case data protection formed an express exception to the EU legislation on access to documents, and the two rights were in conflict.

The Court’s judgment on the second point is more convincing, in light of the wording of the data protection Directive, which only requires an intelligible summary of the personal data being processed to be made available.

Finally, the Court’s analysis of Article 41 of the Charter is a brave attempt to clear up the prior inconsistencies and confusion on this point, for instance in its recent judgment on procedural rights as regards subsidiary protection applications. Undeniably the Charter provision does only apply to EU bodies, not to Member States, but the Court nevertheless guarantees that the right to good administration can be claimed against the latter by clarifying that the right to good administration is nonetheless a general principle of EU law.

This is, apparently, the first time that the Court has confirmed that some rights are not in the Charter, but are protected as general principles of EU law. This raises important questions as to which other rights might be protected in that way, what the difference between the parallel rights to good administration might be, and whether the general principles have a different legal effect than Charter rights. But in the specific context of asylum proceedings, and more generally in many other areas of EU law, it is useful that the Court confirmed that applicants can still enforce (by a different means) the right to good administration against national authorities.

The reform of Europol: modern EU agency, or intergovernmental dinosaur?

(ORIGINAL PUBLISHED on EU LAW ANALYSIS)

by Steve PEERS

Introduction

The EU’s police cooperation agency, Europol, has played a major role in the development of Justice and Home Affairs cooperation in the EU from an early stage. Europol was originally set up informally, then on the basis of a 1995 Convention, subsequently replaced by a Council Decision in 2009. While its powers have gradually been expanded, so has the controversy about its accountability and the adequacy of its data protection rules. Since it is a creature of the former ‘third pillar’ (the previous special rules on policing and criminal law) it is something of a ‘dinosaur’ in institutional terms, being an essentially intergovernmental body.

With the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Parliament (EP) now has joint powers with the Council as regards the adoption of a Regulation governing Europol, and the Treaty now refers expressly to the importance of ensuring accountability to both national parliaments and the EP. Furthermore, the EU institutions agreed in 2012 a ‘Common Understanding’ on standard rules which would apply to the governance of EU agencies. To expand Europol’s powers further, while addressing the issues of governance, accountability and data protection, the Commission proposed a new Regulation reconstituting Europol in 2013.

At the most recent Justice and Home Affairs Council, ministers agreed the Council’s position on the Commission’s proposal. Since the European Parliament also recently agreed its own position, this clears the way for negotiations to take place between the two institutions for a final deal, once the EP is fully operational again following the recent elections. This is therefore a good time to examine the progress of discussions on the proposed Regulation so far.

It should be noted that Ireland has opted in to this proposed Regulation, while the UK and Denmark have opted out. The UK’s objections are due to the proposals to place national law enforcement bodies to comply with Europol’s requests to start investigations, and to supply information to Europol without a national security exception. However, as discussed further below, the Council’s and EP’s positions on the proposal address these issues, raising the possibility that the UK will opt in after adoption of the Regulation.

Europol’s powers
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Access to documents: the Council might not implement a key CJEU judgment

ORIGINAL PUBLISHED ON “EU LAW ANALYSIS”
by Professor Steve PEERS

Monday, 19 May 2014

The EU is often accused by critics of a lack of openness and transparency – and often such criticisms are justified. This is particularly the case as regards the EU legislative process. In principle, this process ought to resemble the open process seen in national legislatures, with full public access to the drafts of legislation that passes through the legislative chamber(s).

However, despite the adoption of a general Regulation on access to documents in 2001, this aspect (among others) of EU transparency is problematic.
The reason for this is that, within the Council, some Member States wish to keep their positions secret, at least while the negotiations are ongoing. Of course, this profoundly undermines the argument that citizens of each Member States, via national parliaments, can hold each individual government accountable for its action within the Council. For some Member States, though, accountability would bring embarrassment.

The CJEU, in accordance with its prior case law emphasising the importance of transparency in the EU legislative process, ruled in the Open Access Info judgment last year that the names of Member States in principle had to be released to the public.

This ruling would seem to be straightforward enough. But the Council is trying to wriggle out of it.

According to an internal Council document discussed by Member States’ EU ambassadors (Coreper) last week, the Council is considering three options:
– referring always to Member State positions;
– making no reference to Member State positions;
– or continuing an unsystematic approach to this issue.

The first option (full transparency) is rejected, because it sometimes this will not be ‘appropriate’, ie it might embarrass Member States. The second option is rejected, because it will be useful to have a record of Member States’ positions. So the suggestion is for the third option.

If this third option is chosen, what seems likely to result is that whenever a Member State believes that its position might be embarrassing, it will ask that there should be no listing of its name in the footnotes.

Moreover, the Council document does not foresee any active transparency, ie disclosing a document with Member States’ positions as soon as it is drawn up.

The new rules (when agreed) will only apply to documents when an individual requests a copy of them. By the time that the Council replies to such a request, discussions on a particular issue could have moved on and so there will not be an opportunity to have a public debate on whether a particular Member State’s position is justified.

So the whole process of challenging the Council in Court as regards this crucial aspect of EU legislative decision-making is ultimately likely to have only limited practical effect.

Perhaps the next step in this battle will have to be non-judicial: either a demand by the European Parliament that the Council open up its legislative proceedings further (or at the very least, that both institutions open up the secretive ‘trialogue’ process); or a complaint to the European Ombudsman that the Council should proactively make all its legislative documents public without individual request.
(NDR Emphasized by me)

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

 

LogoSummerSchool2013Rome

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 : http://www.fondazionebasso.it
Participation fees:

Euro 480,00 (ORDINARY FEE).
Euro 200,00 (FOR STUDENTS / RESEARCHERS) .
(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 – basso@fondazionebasso.it
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 (www.fondazionebasso.it -Tel. 06.6879953 – email: basso@fondazionebasso.it)

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?

Debate

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

Debate

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

Debate

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

Debate

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

Debate

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

Debate

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

Debate

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

Debate

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

Debate

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

PRESENTATION OF THE COURSE

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.

Speakers:

Academics:
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)

BuonGoverno

Towards Europol 2.0 : first obstacles during the parliamentary debate…

by Marine Marx

The long awaited Commission legislative proposal updating Europol to the new legal framework as described by art 88 of the TFEU has been recently submitted to the European Parliament and to the Council of the European Union. Quite surprisingly the first issue which has arisen during the parliamentary debate has been the proposed fusion of Europol with CEPOL (the European Agency in charge of training Law enforcement authorities).

The fusion of Europol and Cepol as a first test of a new general policy on EU agencies

It is worth recalling that this proposal comply with the general EU objective to make some order in the recent mushrooming of EU agencies (already 32, 23 of them created only in the last ten years). These decentralized agencies are playing an essential role not only in the implementation phase at technical, scientific and operational level but also when shaping new strategies and proposing new legislation in all EU domains of competence. However, as explained in a Joint Statement of the European Parliament, the Council of the EU and the European Commission on decentralized agencies[1], their creation has been done on a case by case basis without an overall vision of their role and place in the European institutional and legal framework. This led to an increase of decentralized agencies in a way that lack of consistency. To face these distortions, the Commission explained in the Roadmap on the follow-up to the Common Approach on EU decentralised agencies[2] its objectives to reach a more balanced governance, improved efficiency and accountability and greater coherence.

Thus, one of the major objectives is to enhance agencies’ efficiency and accountability. One of the initiatives to be pursued in this respect is to seek synergies between agencies, such as the possibility of sharing services based on proximity of locations or policy area or that of merging agencies whose tasks are overlapping and which would more efficient if inserted in a bigger structure.

This point stressed in the Common Approach establishes the foundations for the Commission’s proposal on a revision of Europol and its potential merger with CEPOL.

However merging Europol and Cepol risks to be a bumpy road..

On Tuesday, the 7th of May, a debate was held within the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee (LIBE) about the merger of the European Police College (Cepol) with the European Police Cooperation Agency (Europol). Thus, the LIBE committee organized during its meeting an exchange of views with Dr Ferenc Banfi, Director of CEPOL and Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol and the Chairs of the Management Boards on the proposal of a merger between Europol and CEPOL.

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