Thursday

16th Aug 2018

Europol chief takes instructions on document access from Americans

  • Europol's new Headquarters on Eisenhowerlaan in The Hague (Photo: Europol)

The head of the EU police agency Europol is taking instructions from the Americans on what EU-drafted documents he can and cannot release to EU lawmakers.

The issue came up over the summer when US ambassador to the EU Anthony Gardner told EU ombudsman Emily O’Reilly she cannot inspect an annual Europol report drafted by the agency’s own internal data protection review board.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The report describes how data concerning EU citizens and residents is transferred to the US.

O’Reilly on Thursday (4 September) said she sent a letter to the European Parliament asking the assembly “to consider whether it is acceptable that an agreement with a foreign government should prevent the Ombudsman from doing her job”.

O’Reilly had wanted to review the report, initially requested in 2012 by Dutch MEP liberal Sophie In’t Veld, in order to assess if Europol’s refusal to allow the lawmaker access was justified.

But Europol said it was unable to allow O’Reilly to inspect the document because it first needed the consent of the US authorities. Europol asked and the Americans said ‘No’.

The Americans are unhappy because Europol had drafted the report “without prior written authorisation from the information owner (in this case the Treasury Department).”

They say its release would breach “security protocols” and possibly “undermine the relationship of trust needed to share sensitive information between enforcement agencies.”

The response prompted O’Reilly to seek out Gardner in July who then took a similar line.

“If the US says ‘No disclosure’ then it won’t be disclosed, which is ridiculous because we are EU citizens, we vote, we pay taxes, we have EU laws, and we decide what happens on this continent. Nobody else,” In’t Veld told this website.

The Dutch MEP said a set of criteria must be created to justify why some EU-level documents are being classified as secret while others are not.

“There is no operational information, there is no intelligence, there is nothing in the document. So you really wonder why it is kept a secret,” she said.

The report, drafted by Europol’s Joint Supervisory Body, looks at how the EU-US terrorist financial tracking programme (TFTP) is being implemented.

The TFTP agreement came under fire following revelations last year the Americans were conducting indiscriminate and secret surveillance operations on EU citizens and their leadership.

Right-wing MEPs dump access to documents project

Meanwhile, centre-right and conservatives MEPs in the civil liberties committee on Wednesday rejected an amendment to boost transparency and access to documents in a budget vote.

An amendment tabled by a handful liberal MEPs in the committee proposed setting up a pilot project to create an “easy online access to unclassified EU institution documents”.

The amendment requested €1 million to be set aside for the web portal, set for launch early next year.

But British conservative MEP Timothy Kirkhope in an email said his group, while supporting more transparency and document access, rejected the idea because it needs further evaluation to ensure tax payer money is well spent.

“We do not support funding yet more pilot projects and schemes without proper evaluation and full assessment of whether these programmes deliver value for money to the tax payer," he said. "The amendment allocating money for access to documents is such an example."

The proposal is not entirely dead and may still be included in the overall budget line when it comes to a vote in the budget committee and then in the plenary at the end of October.

EU Commission skirts Italy sanctions on Roma evictions

The European Commission, as guardian of the treaties, declines to sanction Italy's treatment of the Roma following a forced eviction on Thursday of some 300 from a camp in the outskirts of the Italian capital.

News in Brief

  1. Salvini questions EU 'constraints' after bridge collapse
  2. Bosnian Serbs to rewrite 1995 Srebrenica genocide report
  3. Malta to allow Aquarius migrants to disembark
  4. Juncker sends condolences over Genoa bridge collapse
  5. EU pledges €500,000 more for Indonesian earthquake island
  6. EU commission in talks with states on new Aquarius migrants
  7. Man held after car crashes into UK parliament security barrier
  8. Brexit delays better readability of medicines' instructions

Opinion

The systemic risk that Europe has to face

One of the biggest systemic risks across Europe, illustrated by Hungary and Poland, is the dominance of the executive power over the judiciary and informal channels of political dependency.

Schengen at stake in Austria-Germany talks

German interior minister Horst Seehofer is in Vienna on Thursday - as his plan to reject some asylum seekers was met by an Austrian threat to close its borders too.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. US trial sheds light on murky Cyprus-Russia links
  2. Burned cars fuel Swedish election debate
  3. EU court to hear citizens' climate case against EU
  4. How long can Bulgaria keep facing both East and West?
  5. EU commission steps up legal case against Poland
  6. Separation of powers instead of 'Spitzenkandidat' process
  7. Revealed: ExxonMobil's private dinner with Cyprus' top EU brass
  8. What Salvini teaches us about Operation Sophia

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  4. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  6. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  8. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  9. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  11. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  12. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us