FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT
For a Visa-Free Europe
New Europe: “9th of January marked the fourth year of my tenure as the Minister for EU Affairs in Turkey. Thanks to the determination of our Government, we have taken many steps to bring Turkey closer to the EU. Yet, there is one issue that has been on top of our agenda still pending to be resolved: Schengen visa before free travel of Turkish citizens.
Facts and figures of today indicate that the visa against Turkish citizens is not legal, fair and rational.
It is not legal since Turkey has legal rights derived from the Ankara Agreement signed back in 1963. In simplest terms, the “standstill provision” laid down in the Additional Protocol of the Ankara Agreement requires member states to refrain from introducing any new restrictions and thus, prohibits the visa requirement for Turkish citizens for a number of EU member states. Since, 11 of today‘s member states had not had a visa requirement for Turkish nationals at the time when the Protocol entered into force back in 1973, they shall not require visa from Turkish citizens.
In fact, the legal rights of Turks have been recognized by the Court of Justice of the European Union and the national courts of some member states including Germany and Netherlands. However, such decisions are not put into practice, which is a clear breach of the “rule of law”.
It is not fair. Turkey is the only candidate country, whose citizens are still subject to visas. Let alone the citizens of Western Balkans, around 200 million Brazilians and 120 million Mexicans are exempt from the visa requirement. Turkey is the only country that had formed a Customs Union with the EU without becoming a member. The products of Turkish businessmen can freely flow in the Union but the owner of those products cannot freely travel…”
Assembly: Mounting Eastern Mediterranean tensions over migration and asylum are Europe’s problem
Human Rights Europe: “Governments must show greater solidarity with countries in the East Mediterranean to help them cope with mounting tensions over asylum and irregular migration.
Following its debate yesterday, the Parliamentary Assembly also wants these issues recognised as a European problem and not one confined to a single or a few European states.
Parliamentarians agreed that Greece, the main entry point for irregular migrants into the EU, and Turkey, the main country of transit, which has taken in 150 000 refugees from Syria, will not be able to resolve their difficulties “without greater solidarity and assistance from the EU and other member states of the Council of Europe.” …”
Immigration: Romanian or Bulgarian? You won’t like it here
Guardian: “Please don’t come to Britain – it rains and the jobs are scarce and low-paid. Ministers are considering launching a negative advertising campaign in Bulgaria and Romania to persuade potential immigrants to stay away from the UK.
The plan, which would focus on the downsides of British life, is one of a range of potential measures to stem immigration to Britain next year when curbs imposed on both country’s citizens living and working in the UK will expire.
A report over the weekend quoted one minister saying that such a negative advert would “correct the impression that the streets here are paved with gold”.
There was no word on how any advert might look or whether it would use the strategy of making Britain look as horrible as possible or try to encourage would-be migrants to wake up to the joys of their own countries whether Romania’s Carpathian mountains or Bulgaria’s Black Sea resorts. With governments around the world spending millions on hiring London-based consultants to undertake “reputation laundering” there would be a peculiar irony if Britain chose to trash its own image perhaps by highlighting winter flooding of homes or the carnage of a Saturday night A&E ward…”
FAQ: The Radicalisation Awareness Network
Europa Rapid: “What is the RAN?
The Radicalisation Awareness Network, launched in September 2011, is an umbrella network connecting people involved in preventing radicalisation and violent extremism throughout Europe.
First liner practitioners from different Member States and Norway, such as social workers, religious leaders, youth leaders, policemen, researchers and others who work on the ground in vulnerable communities can meet, each in their area of expertise, in order to exchange ideas, knowledge and experiences.
EU-wide conferences like the one organised tomorrow in Brussels provide opportunities for the practitioners to make recommendations and interact with policy makers (’empowering local actors to prevent violent extremism’).
How can a network help to counter violent extremism?
Fighting terrorism and violent extremism is not only a question of security measures. The best prevention is to stop people from getting involved in violent extremist activities in the first place, or to convince them to turn away from violence promoting ideologies. Prevention, especially at an early stage, cannot be left to a small number of authorities and actors to deal with. The nature of the phenomenon requires a wide-ranging cooperation and multitude of expertise.
As a ‘network of networks’ the RAN includes eight working groups consisting of practitioners and researchers with concrete and practical involvement in preventing radicalisation issues.
1. It helps practitioners in identifying good practices and promoting the exchange of experience in different fields, such as how to provide support to, very often young, individuals who want to stay out or break with violent extremist groups.
2. It provides an opportunity to share experiences between countries, and raise awareness and knowledge within new groups of practitioners.
3. It provides feedback from practitioners to policy makers and contributes to policy processes at national and European level…”
Also on the same topic: Stand up against violent extremism (Cecilia Malmström’s speech)
The Data Protection reform – One Year On
Europa Rapid: “One year ago, the European Commission presented a comprehensive reform of the EU’s 1995 data protection rules to strengthen online privacy rights and boost Europe’s digital economy (IP/12/46). Technological progress and globalisation have profoundly changed the way our data is collected, accessed and used. In addition, the 27 EU Member States have implemented the 1995 rules differently, resulting in divergences in enforcement. A single law will do away with the current fragmentation and costly administrative burdens. This will save businesses around €2.3 billion a year. The initiative will help reinforce consumer confidence in online services, providing a much needed boost to growth, jobs and innovation in Europe.
How will the data protection reform boost economic growth?
Sharing data has become crucial for economic growth. Privacy protection and the free flow of data are complementary not contradictory concepts.
To flourish, the digital economy needs trust. Many people do not have confidence about giving out their personal data online. This means they are less likely to use online services and other technologies. According to a GSMA study 9 out of 10 smartphone users are concerned about mobile apps collecting their data without their consent, and say they want to know when the data on their smartphone is being shared with a third party.
Strong, reliable, consistently applied rules will make data processing safer, cheaper and strengthen people’s confidence. Confidence in turn drives growth. This is a message that is well understood worldwide. In a letter to the European Parliament strongly supporting the data protection reform package, 25 major U.S. consumer organisations stressed that “stronger privacy standards in Europe will benefit consumers around the globe”.
What does the reform do for business?
The proposed EU data protection law will do three things to help business to contribute to growth:
First, it will cut costs and increase legal certainty by replacing the current patchwork of laws in Europe with a single uniform set of rules for all 27 European Union countries.
It will cut red tape by introducing a one-stop shop for businesses to deal with regulators. In the future, companies will only have to deal with the data protection authorities in the EU country in which they are based.
They will also no longer be obliged to notify every single data processing activity to national regulators.
All of this will save businesses about €2.3 billion a year.
Second, the reform will generate growth because it takes account of the cost of non-compliance. Violations of data protection rules can have an enormous cost. According to reports, an attack on Sony during which 100 million accounts were hacked had a cost of between 1 and $2 billion. Making sure that customers are notified without undue delay when their data, including credit card details, is hacked will generate trust and give consumers confidence in doing business online.
Third, the Commission’s proposals extend the number of ways in which businesses can show that they meet high standards of protection when they transfer personal data beyond the EU’s borders. It’s a long list. Businesses operating globally will benefit from clear rules that set out how they can use binding corporate rules (BCRs) and standard contractual clauses to transfer personal data securely.
The proposal also abolishes many cumbersome prior-authorisation procedures. Under certain conditions, it will be possible to transfer data outside the Union on the basis of codes of conduct. Safe Harbour will not be affected.
The proposed new EU rules on adequacy take full account of privacy systems in other countries. It’s not about having a system identical to that of the EU but about ensuring the same level of data protection in practice. Experience shows that this approach works…”
European Data Protection Day 2013: Full speed ahead towards reliable and modern EU data protection laws
Europa Rapid: “One year ago, ahead of the European Data Protection Day 2012, the European Commission proposed a root and branch reform of the EU’s data protection rules to make them fit for the 21st century (IP/12/46). One year later, considerable headway has been made and negotiations on the new rules are progressing at full speed.
The reasons are clear: To flourish, the digital economy needs trust. Many people are not confident about giving out their personal data online. This means they are less likely to use online services and other technologies. Strong, reliable, consistently applied rules will make data processing safer, cheaper and strengthen people’s confidence. Confidence in turn drives growth. Some estimates show that EU GDP could grow by a further 4% by 2020 if the EU takes the necessary steps to create a modern digital single market.
“We live in a digital world in which personal data has enormous economic value. Already, a person’s location patterns can be captured and tracked. Soon, sensors will tell phones whether their users are alone or in a crowd,” said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner. “European businesses need to take advantage of this new computing and information-sharing landscape and European consumers need to be able to navigate safely though the digital age. A uniform and modern data protection law for the European Union is exactly what we need to secure trust and generate growth in the digital single market. I am working very hard to make sure that by next year’s Data Protection Day this reform will be in the statute book.”
On 26 October 2012 (SPEECH/12/764) and 18 January 2013 (SPEECH/13/29), European justice ministers held detailed discussions on the reform proposals, including the right to be forgotten, fines for organisations which mishandle personal data and the costs and benefits of the new rules for businesses. Meanwhile, on 8 January 2013, the European Commission welcomed the support for strong EU data protection rules expressed in the draft reports by the European Parliament on the reform proposals (MEMO/13/4). Both the European Parliament and ministers meeting in the Council of the EU will continue their discussions over the coming months under the Irish Presidency of the EU.
In the digital age, the collection and storage of personal information are essential. Data is used by all businesses – from insurance firms and banks to social media sites and search engines. In a globalised world, the transfer of data to third countries has become an important factor in daily life. There are no borders online and cloud computing means data may be sent from Berlin to be processed in Boston and stored in Bangalore.
74% of Europeans think that disclosing personal data is increasingly part of modern life, but at the same time, 72% of Internet users are worried that they give away too much personal data. They feel they are not in complete control of their data. Fading trust in online services and tools holds back the growth of the digital economy and Europe’s digital single market.
On 25 January 2012 the European Commission proposed a comprehensive reform of the EU’s 1995 data protection rules to strengthen online privacy rights and boost Europe’s digital economy. The Commission’s proposals update and modernise the principles enshrined in the 1995 Data Protection Directive to bring them into the digital age. They include a proposal for a Regulation setting out a general EU framework for data protection and a proposal for a Directive on protecting personal data processed for the purposes of prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of criminal offences and related judicial activities (IP/12/46).
The Commission proposals follow up on the European Parliament report by Axel Voss (MEMO/11/489) which called on the Commission to reform European data protection rules.
A European Parliament vote is expected around the end of April. The Irish Presidency of the EU which for the next six months will chair and steer the Council meetings has made data protection a priority and is working hard to achieve a political agreement on the data protection reform by the end of the Irish Presidency (June 2013)…”
Also on the same topic: Data protection day: is your private life safe?
Statewatch: ” Two legal systems in conflict; a perspective on the proposed EU data rules and its possible consequences (wobbing.eu, link): “Suggested new EU rules for data protection might not only ban blogs, Facebook updates, and tweets. Authorities will have to redact official archives by deleting names in documents. Member states are told to find their own way to secure fundamental rights.”
US free to grab EU data on American clouds
Euobserver: “An obscure section in a US law is said to entitle authorities to access, without a warrant, data stored by any EU citizen on clouds run by American companies.
Although highly controversial for its indirect effects on Americans, the impact of the law appears to have been overlooked by its intended target – everyone else.
Rather than case-by-case snooping, the law authorises mass-surveillance of non-Americans, for purely political purposes, said Caspar Bowden who is the former chief privacy adviser to Microsoft, at a panel on cyber security organised by the CPDP conference in Brussels on Friday (25 January).
“It intentionally targets only non-US persons located outside the US and provides for a blanket authorisation to this for one year at a time. There is no individual warrantry,” said Bowden, who is now an independent advocate for information rights…”
Statewatch: The Brussels Privacy Declaration: “Privacy is a fundamental human right, but today this right is widely ignored. We are outraged. We are outraged, because we, the citizens, are now kept in hundreds of databases, mostly without our knowledge or consent, over 1,200 companies specialise in trading our personal data, mostly without our knowledge or consent, every time we browse the internet over 50 companies now monitor every click, mostly without our knowledge or consent, we are constantly being categorised and judged by algorithms and then treated according to the “perceived value” we may or may not bring to business without our knowledge and consent, and lobbying is currently replacing European citizens’ voices and manifest concerns.”
EU Cybersecurity strategy will focus on improving network’s resilience
New Europe: “On 24 January, European Commissioner responsible for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes announced that the new EU Cybersecurity strategy will focus “on the need to improve the overall resilience of network and information systems.”
In her speech at a Panel on Building Cyber Resilience, during the World Economic Forum, Kroes also stated that the EU Cybersecurity strategy will also aim to stimulate “the competitiveness of the ICT industry as well as user demand for security functionalities in ICT products and services.”
The EU strategy will be complemented by actions aiming to enhance the fight against cybercrime, by initiatives aiming at strengthening the external EU cyber security policy and exploring new ways of cooperation between the civilian and the military dimension.
The strategy will be presented in the coming days by Commissioner Kroes together with the European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström and EU High Representative Catherine Ashton. The EU Cybersecurity strategy will be accompanied by a proposal for a Directive on Network and Information Security (NIS) across the EU region. The draft Directive will require from Member States to be appropriately equipped for being able to ensure the smooth functioning of the EU networks. Moreover, Member States’ NIS competent authorities would also be required to cooperate with each other at the European level. According to the Commissioner, the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) will be the institution responsible to support this process by providing advice and technical know-how…”
EU official: Hezbollah unlikely to get on terrorism blacklist
Euobserver: “The EU’s top counter-terrorism official has said that Hezbollah might not get onto the Union’s blacklist even if it did bomb Jewish tourists in Bulgaria last year.
Gilles de Kerchove told EUobserver that Bulgaria’s investigation into the incident is likely to be concluded next month.
US and Israeli officials have said the EU should list the Lebanese militant group if the Bulgarians find it guilty, in a move which would make it illegal for Hezbollah sympathisers in Europe to send it money…”
Cameron gains in polls with EU referendum pledge
Euobserver: “The first survey published since UK premier Cameron pledged an “in-out” EU referendum showed his Conservative party up two percent, to 31%, while the UK Independence Party was down by the same margin, to 14%. The Mail on Sunday poll showed Labour unchanged; leading at 38%…”
More information on UK Polling Report
Czechs elect pro-European Miloš Zeman for president
Euractiv: “Miloš Zeman, a leftist former prime minister seen as pro-European, won the Czech Republic’s first direct presidential election on Saturday (26 January), marking a departure from the late Eurosceptic President Václav Klaus, who had pushed the country towards the margins of the European Union.
Zeman, 68, who favours more integration within the European Union, won by 54.8% to 45.2% over his conservative opponent, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, according to results from 99.9% of voting districts.
Zeman had accused Schwarzenberg of favouring foreign interests in a bitter electoral campaign.
Zeman, an economic forecaster who was a Communist Party member before the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, is expected to steer Czechs closer to Europe’s mainstream.
The anti-EU rhetoric of outgoing President Klaus, who succeeded late playwright Václav Havel, has pushed the country towards the margins of the EU.
Czech presidents do not wield much day-to-day power but represent the country abroad and appoint prime ministers, central bankers and judges…”