Monday

12th Apr 2021

Legal blow to opponents of data retention bill

The European Court of Justice advocate general on Tuesday (14 October) delivered a blow to member states hoping to overturn an EU law on harmonising telephone and internet data retention rules, saying the case is an internal market matter, not a justice and home affairs issue.

The directive - which was approved by a qualified majority of EU states in February 2006 - sets a time period of six months to two years during which telecom operators are to keep phone and internet data, in the name of fighting terrorism and crime and increasing security.

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

Irish telecoms operators and internet service providers currently face tougher rules and must keep the data for up to three years, according to the Irish Times.

Consequently, Ireland, backed in its position by Slovakia, wanted the rules to be subject to justice and home affairs provisions, rather than to internal market ones.

In the realm of justice and home affairs, a unanimity of member states is needed for directives to be approved, whereas a qualified majority of EU countries is sufficient to pass an internal market one.

But EU advocate general Yves Bot on Tuesday "invite[d] the court to dismiss the action, taking the view that the directive was correctly based on the EC Treaty," a court press release reads.

Mr Bot estimates that the bill "does not contain any provisions liable to come within the notion of 'police and judicial co-operation in criminal matters'," and is primarily an internal market issue.

"As regards Ireland's argument that the sole or main purpose of the directive is the investigation, detection and prosecution of serious crime, the advocate general … considers that the mere fact that the directive refers to such an objective is not sufficient for a finding that it is an act falling within the area covered by police and judicial co-operation in criminal matters," according to the court's press release.

The advocate general's opinion is not binding on the court, but is however adhered to by the ECJ in around 80 percent of all cases. A date for the ECJ's ruling has not been set at this stage.

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.

News in Brief

  1. Turkey blames EU for sexist protocol fiasco
  2. France to close elite civil-service academy
  3. Covid-19 cases in UK drop 60%, study finds
  4. White House urges 'calm' after Northern Ireland riots
  5. Italy's Draghi calls Turkey's Erdoğan a 'dictator'
  6. Slovakia told to return Sputnik V amid quality row
  7. EU risks €87bn in stranded fossil fuel assets
  8. Obligatory vaccination not against human rights, European court says

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 MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. The Covid bell tolls for eastern Europe's populists
  2. Four deaths after taking Russian Sputnik V vaccine
  3. Post-Brexit riots flare up in Northern Ireland
  4. Advice on AstraZeneca varies across EU, amid blood clot fears
  5. Greenland election could see halt to rare-earth mining
  6. After 50 years, where do Roma rights stand now?
  7. Why Iran desperately wants a new nuclear deal
  8. Does new EU-ACP deal really 'decolonise' aid?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us