Monday

10th May 2021

Frontex and Europol pledge greater access to documents

  • Europol says it will be more proactive in publishing documents for public access (Photo: Europol)

The EU police agency Europol, and its border guard agency Frontex, have pledged to improve public access to documents.

The pledge came after demands first made in 2012 by the London-based civil liberties charity Statewatch.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"Frontex has always tried to keep as many things secret as it possibly can," said Chris Jones of Statewatch on Friday (15 January).

"They have this understanding of themselves as essentially like a para-military border agency," he said.

But following additional pressure from the European Ombudsman, the two agencies have now agreed to improve such access.

For Frontex, it means creating a centralised public register before the end of the year.

And documents released through freedom of information requests will also be included.

For Europol, it means improving their register by proactively publishing documents and creating more categories.

In a letter sent to European Ombudsman, Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri said a searchable central document management system would be finalised by the end of the year.

"Documents released as part of public access to documents are also to be made available in the public register of documents," he said.

Frontex currently requires individuals, who file freedom of information requests, to not share the documents due to copyright.

It is not clear if that copyright will be maintained, once Frontex sets up the register.

The scope of what will be included in the registers remains limited to things dealing with legislation and strategy.

But Statewatch's Chris Jones says he is hoping both agencies will also include documents dealing with internal matters.

This includes documents linked to internal working groups, inter-agency working groups, and discussions between units that are in Frontex and Europol.

"The agendas and minutes of those minutes should be public," he said.

If they can't be made public, he noted, "then at the very least they need to be listed so people know what meetings have taken place."

Frontex transparency dispute goes to EU court

The General Court of the European Union in Luxembourg will next month hold a public hearing on the refusal by Frontex, the EU's border agency, to release documents concerning its border control and surveillance operation known as Triton.

Analysis

Frontex: Europe's new law enforcement agency?

The past 18 months have seen the EU's border agency Frontex morph into a law enforcement as it steps up efforts to crack down on crime and terrorism.

Frontex embroiled in new transparency case

Last October, Der Spiegel published an investigation into illegal pushbacks off the Greek islands, implicating the EU's border agency Frontex. Journalists asked Frontex to release location data of its vessels, so has an MEP - without success.

Catalan MEPs lose immunity, slam 'political persecution'

Catalan separatist MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí lost their parliamentary immunity - a result they have hailed as a "political victory" for bringing the conflict between Catalonia and Spain closer to the heart of Europe.

12-month Future EU Conference is 'impossible', expert warns

The debate about the much-delayed Conference on the Future of Europe so far has been locked in endless institutional infighting over who should lead the event - lowering the expectations about what can be achieved in the coming months.

Future of Europe: Nearly half of citizens want reforms

European Parliament president David Sassoli called for the Conference on the Future of Europe "to start as soon as possible". Meanwhile, nearly half of EU citizens would like to see reforms to the bloc.

News in Brief

  1. Lukashenko amends emergency transfer of power
  2. German centre-left picks Scholz as would-be chancellor
  3. EU has not ordered AstraZeneca vaccines beyond June
  4. Macron: Pandemic showed need for more EU integration
  5. Election win fuels Scottish nationalists' referendum plan
  6. Surge in migrant arrivals to Italian island
  7. EU embassy pays bail for Georgia opposition leader
  8. British aristocrats caught peddling Kremlin ties

MEPs chide Portugal and Council in EU prosecutor dispute

The Belgian and Bulgarian prosecutors who were appointed had also not been the experts' first choice. Belgian prosecutor Jean-Michel Verelst has challenged the council's decision at the European Court of Justice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. EU and US urge Israel to defuse Jerusalem violence
  2. Frontex 'mislabelling minors as adults' on Greek islands
  3. Has Albania really met the 15 tests to join the EU? No
  4. Vaccine fairness plus Russia on table This WEEK
  5. EU ambassadors flock to Red Square for Putin's parade
  6. MEPs win battle for bigger citizens' voice at Conference
  7. Hungary gags EU ministers on China
  8. Poland and Hungary push back on 'gender equality' pre-summit

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us