Tuesday

28th Sep 2021

Brussels attacks new US security demands

The European Commission has poured cold water on a set of security requirements recently tabled by Washington, describing the move as "unacceptable" and going "too far".

"The text is unacceptable. It's just way beyond anything that can be done," Jonathan Faull, the head of the commission's home affairs department, said on Wednesday (13 February), referring to a US-proposed memorandum of understanding distributed to EU capitals.

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

The document consists of a series of demands designed to keep better track of who wants to enter US territory.

The wishlist includes in-flight security officers aboard transatlantic flights operated by the US airlines, an electronic travel authorisation system as well as an accord to share further data on air passengers and lost and stolen passports.

Brussels has made it clear that it dislikes being a passive observer of the ongoing process, with Washington discussing the new measures bilaterally with each EU government.

"We don't negotiate matters which are dealt with in Washington with the state of California - that would be disrespectful and we expect the US to be similarly respectful of our law and system here," Mr Faull told journalists.

"The USA knows perfectly well that there are some things you come to Brussels to talk about," he stressed, pointing to the passenger name records (PNR) deal between the United States and the European Union as a whole.

According to the director general, such issues would include the recent US demand to extend the passenger data system to information on air passengers flying over its territory but not landing there. Under the current accord, US security authorities collect 19 pieces of data on European air passengers, except when the travellers are just flying over the US.

Another matter, which Brussels believes should be dealt with at a multilateral level, includes re-admission or repatriation agreements.

"I hope that everything will come into place by the end of this week," Mr Faull said.

However, some member states are in favour of signing up to additional security measures, hoping it will ease their way to a visa-free travel to the United States. The Czech Republic and Estonia seem the most eager to agree to bilateral deals.

"I am happy that we have found a common stand regarding the memorandum," Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg said in a statement on Tuesday (12 February), adding that a final agreement is expected to be struck by the end of this month.

The EU's executive body, for its part, said it plans to discuss these issues in next few days, with a "very clear intention of getting a common position from EU member states" to be shared with Washington.

It has also reiterated its frustration over visa requirements imposed on twelve EU countries, with Mr Faull saying "we have been extremely patient and we have not imposed a visa obligation on any category of US citizens, but our patience cannot last forever."

US flight security demands ruffle EU feathers

The United States is confronting the 27-nation EU bloc with a new set of security requirements, including armed sky marshals on transatlantic flights, as part of its ongoing war on terror. The European Commission dislikes the fact that the issue is being dealt with bilaterally.

Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency

Some 14 MEPs have created a group to probe allegations of rights abuse by the EU's border agency Frontex. Its head, Fabrice Leggeri, welcomed its creation and said it "is about time".

Romania denies forcing migrant-boat back to Turkish waters

Romania's ministry of internal affairs wrote to Frontex claiming it did not engage in any illegal pushbacks of people on rubber boats into Turkish territorial waters. The country says it followed EU engagement rules and Greek orders.

LGBTI fears over new Polish member at EU institution

A letter sent to the European Economic and Social Committee by a group of cross-party MEPs fighting for LGBTi rights expresses fears that a recently-appointed Polish member may try to undermine those rights.

EU condemns Slovenian PM's harassment of journalist

Slovenia's populist prime minister Janez Janša attempted to discredit a Brussels reporter after she published a critical article about the state of media freedoms in the country. The European Commission condemned the PM's language - but refrained from naming him.

Feature

Covid-hit homeless find Xmas relief at Brussels food centre

The Kamiano food distribution centre in Brussels is expecting 20 people every half hour on Christmas Day. For many, Kamiano is also more than that - a support system for those made homeless or impoverished.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNATO Secretary General guest at the Session of the Nordic Council
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCan you love whoever you want in care homes?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed

Latest News

  1. Scaling up tidal requires flood of new cash
  2. German coalition calculus dominates This WEEK
  3. No clear winner to succeed Merkel in Germany
  4. Banks fuelling expansion of oil-and-gas Arctic extraction
  5. The dilemma of Europe's returning female jihadis
  6. Why Draghi could be a two-term prime-minister
  7. Activists: 'More deaths' expected on Polish-Belarus border
  8. EU unveils common charger plan - forcing Apple redesign

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us