Saturday

25th Feb 2017

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

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.

Germany seeks to harden EU border checks

German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said internal EU border controls should be imposed on security as well as immigrations grounds, shifting their legal basis.

Analysis

Why Romania erupted in protest

Current anger over corruption laws can be traced back to a night-club fire in 2015, when many died because of lax safety standards. Romanians then realised that corruption can kill.

French police raid Le Pen's party office

Officers raid the National Front headquarters near Paris over allegations that leader Marine Le Pen used fake EU parliament contracts to pay her personal staff.

News in Brief

  1. Spanish court jails former IMF chief Rato
  2. Macron proposes Nordic-style economic model for France
  3. Germany posts record high budget surplus
  4. Labour ousts Ukip in Brexit homeland
  5. Dutch lower house approves EU-Ukraine treaty
  6. WTO says Russian pork ban was illegal
  7. Belgian nuclear plant made 'significant progress' on safety
  8. Report: Commission gauging EU support for Poland sanctions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EURORDISJoin the Rare Disease Day and Help to Advocate for More Research on Rare Diseases
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStudents Who Are Considered Fit Get Better Grades in School
  3. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Paris on March 4th
  4. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  5. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  6. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  7. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  9. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  10. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  12. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations