Thursday

29th Jun 2017

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.

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 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.

Slovenia and Croatia reignite border dispute

Croatia said it would not apply a ruling to be delivered by the international arbitration court on Thursday. Slovenia appeals to the EU to pressure its neighbour.

Luxembourg not a tax haven, claims PM

The prime minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel, maintains that his country had broken no rules and committed no crime when issuing rulings that slashed global tax bills for the big firms.

Border management going virtual

EU leaders at a summit in Brussels are set to endorse new border control measures, while the head of a Tallinn-based EU agency predicts a future where border management goes virtual.

News in Brief

  1. EU parliament adopts mandate for 2018 budget talks
  2. EU commission launches pan-EU pension plan
  3. EU eases police access to databases
  4. Schulz calls for ban of Erdogan rally
  5. Trump to celebrate Bastille Day with Macron in Paris
  6. EU extended Russia sanctions until 2018
  7. Netherlands partially liable for Srebrenica massacre, court rules
  8. Cyprus reunification talks resume in Switzerland

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFNarrowing the Gaps: The Power of Investing in the Health of the Poorest Children
  2. World VisionEU, Young Leaders and Civil Society Join Forces to End Violence Against Girls
  3. EU2017EEGet the Latest News from the 2017 Estonian EU Council Presidency @EU2017EE
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Talks Should Insist on Ending Reprisals Against Critical Voices
  5. European Free AllianceEFA Is Looking for a New Intern
  6. Malta EU 2017Conservation of Atlantic Tunas: International Measures Become EU Law
  7. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCan Statin Therapy Interfere With a Physically Active Lifestyle?
  8. EPSUOn Public Services Day, Stop Austerity! Workers Need a Pay Rise!
  9. EGBAOnline Gambling: The EU Court Rejects Closed Licensing Regimes In Member States
  10. World VisionFaces of Today, Leaders of Tomorrow: Join the Debate on Violence Against Girls - 29 June
  11. ECR GroupThe EU Must Better Protect Industry from Unfair Competition
  12. Malta EU 2017Better Protection for Workers From Cancer-Causing Substances