Thursday

20th Feb 2020

EU wants to give police greater digital access

  • Police want access to an EU database that contains the biometric data of asylum seekers (Photo: EU's attempts)

The European Commission is set to propose expanding police access to sensitive digital data, including details of financial transactions made inside the EU and biometric data of asylum seekers.

The idea is laid out in an internal document, seen by this website, from EU counter-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

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

... or join as a group

The paper, dated 4 March 2016, says the commission is mulling proposals to broaden the Terrorist Financing Tracking Program (TFTP), also known as the Swift agreement.

Under the agreement, the US treasury department and EU law enforcement agencies have access to data on Europeans' financial transactions in a bid to identify terrorist financing.

But it excludes transactions made through the so-called Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), a widespread system that allows people, for instance, to use their debit card anywhere in the euro area.

"This implies, in particular, an information gap to identify contextual information on foreign terrorist fighters and their associates within SEPA countries, thus decreasing opportunities to detect and disrupt terrorist (support) networks, including the related financing activities," notes the paper.

The internal document, titled State of Play on the Implementation of the Statement of the members of the European Council of 12 February 2015, suggests that the commission might seek to include SEPA transactions under the Swift agreement.

The document also criticises the way information from various EU-level databases is shared and used among national security agencies.

For example, it argues that Europol should be given greater access to the EU-wide fingerprint database Eurodac "to prevent, detect, and investigate serious crimes and terrorist offences".

Europol also wants to extend its access to the Schengen Information System, which allows European law enforcement agencies to create and share alerts.

The police agency can already carry out manual checks in the system, but is unable to enter alerts and has no access to data on missing persons or refusals of entry or stay in a country.

Europol chief Rob Wainwright earlier this year said more EU states are now participating in data sharing with the agency. Before the 13 November terror attacks in Paris, roughly half of EU states had signed up to any formal exchange of information with Europol. Most are now onboard.

The internal paper also contradicts an often-cited estimate that 5,000 people in Europe fought in Syria alongside militant jihadist groups, saying that data from Europol suggests the verified figure is 2,786.

"This despite well-founded estimates that around 5,000 EU citizens have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join Daesh and other extremist groups," notes the paper, using an alternative term for the Islamic State militant group.

EU interior ministers in Brussels are meeting to discuss how to improve the data sharing, with the UK and France pressing other EU states to be more proactive on intelligence sharing.

"On terrorism we've seen and we've made great strides in sharing information among European countries but there is more to do," UK home secretary Theresa May told reporters in Brussels on Thursday (10 March).

EU hands personal data to US authorities on daily basis

EU and US co-operation in combatting terrorism remains shrouded in secrecy as Europol, the EU police agency, refuses to render public an inspection report that details how financial data is handed over to US authorities.

Exclusive

Balkan spies 'feed' EU's police database via Czechs

Western Balkan secret services have handed over more the 250 alerts on suspected foreign terrorist fighters since last summer - fed into the EU's police database by the Czech Republic, according to a confidential document seen by EUobserver.

New EU public prosecutor has four staff for 3,000 cases

Laura Kovesi who heads the new European Public Prosecutor's Office, tasked to tackle fraud linked to VAT, money laundering, and corruption across the EU, warned she is dangerously understaffed and underfunded.

Polish 'LGBTI-free zones' not ok, says EU commission

The European Commissioner for equality Helena Dalli has said the distribution of 'LGBTI-free zones' stickers or the adoption of anti-LGBTI resolutions cannot be allowed. Some 86 towns in Poland have so far declared themselves 'LGBTI-free zones'.

News in Brief

  1. EU unveils white paper on AI and data strategy
  2. Dutch court rules against Russia in €46bn Yukos case
  3. Britain to bar 'Polish plumber-type' migrants
  4. Greece seeks EU help to get back classical statues from UK
  5. HSBC to cut 35,000 jobs worldwide
  6. Regions chief appeals against cutting EU cohesion funds
  7. Verhofstadt criticises UK Brexit negotiator
  8. Turkish court acquits Gezi park activists

Polish 'LGBTI-free zones' not ok, says EU commission

The European Commissioner for equality Helena Dalli has said the distribution of 'LGBTI-free zones' stickers or the adoption of anti-LGBTI resolutions cannot be allowed. Some 86 towns in Poland have so far declared themselves 'LGBTI-free zones'.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  2. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December

Latest News

  1. EU leaders face major clash on rule of law budget link
  2. North Macedonia warns EU on 'dirtiest ever' election
  3. Western 'endarkenment' and the voodoo politics of Europe
  4. Warning of agricultural 'digital arms race' in EU
  5. Cayman Islands put on tax-haven blacklist after Brexit
  6. Boris' Brexit bluff? - UK will resist alignment to the end
  7. US still open to Kosovo-Serbia land swap
  8. EU countries enter final phase of budget talks

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us