Commission adopts new security proposals to better protect EU citizens and publishes reports on the Western Balkans partners and Turkey
The Commission adopted today a set of new security proposals to further reduce the space in which terrorists and criminals operate - denying them the means to plan, finance and commit crimes.
Six months after the anti-terrorism package of October 2017, the Commission proposed measures to bolster the security of identity cards and reduce document fraud; provide law enforcement and judicial authorities with access to financial information; further restrict terrorists' access to explosives precursors and strengthen controls on the import and export of firearms.
-Document fraud. The Commission proposed to introduce mandatory biometric data, namely fingerprints and facial images, to be stored on EU citizens' ID cards (older than 12 years) and non-EU family members' residence cards, aligning the security standards across the EU with those set out by ICAO. This will be accompanied with stronger safeguards on who can access the biometrics. The new rules provide for a relatively quick but gradual phase out of non-compliant cards at their expiry or at the latest within five years and for less secure ones (i.e. non-machine readable) within 2 years.
-Financial information: To allow law enforcement authorities timely access to financial information necessary for investigations of serious crimes, the Commission proposed to provide them with direct access on a case-by-case basis to bank account information. In addition, the proposed Directive provides for better cooperation between national law enforcement authorities and the national Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) as well as between Member States.
-Explosives precursors: Home-made explosives have been used by terrorists in many attacks in Europe over the past years. To respond to this new security environment the Commission proposed to further restrict access to dangerous substances by banning two new explosives precursors and strengthen the existing rules - for both online and offline sales.
-Export and import of firearms. The trafficking of firearms remains a serious concern for Europe's security. This is why the Commission updated today the EU rules on the export and import of civilian firearms to include improved control procedures and enhanced information exchange.
The Commission also proposed new rules to make it easier and faster for police and judicial authorities to obtain the electronic evidence, such as e-mails or documents located on the cloud, they need to investigate, prosecute and convict criminals and terrorists. The new rules will allow law enforcement in EU Member States to better track down leads online and across borders, while providing sufficient safeguards for the rights and freedoms of all concerned.
-Access to electronic evidence. The Commission proposed to create a European Production Order to allow a judicial authority in one Member State to request electronic evidence (such as emails, text or messages in apps) directly from a service provider offering services in the Union and established or represented in another Member State, regardless of the location of data. Service provider will be obliged to respond within 10 days, and within 6 hours in cases of emergency (as compared to 120 days for the existing European Investigation Order or 10 months for a Mutual Legal Assistance procedure). The proposed rules also oblige service providers to designate a legal representative in the Union.
Finally, the Commission also reported today on the progress made on other priority initiatives which will pave the way towards a genuine and effective Security Union.
The European Commission adopted today its annual Enlargement package, including seven individual reports (Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, Serbia, former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania) assessing the implementation of the European Union's enlargement policy which is based on established criteria and fair and rigorous conditionality.
The Commission recommended today that the Council decides that accession negotiations be opened with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania, in light of the progress achieved, maintaining and deepening the current reform momentum.
More specifically, for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, delivering on the urgent reform priorities will be decisive for the country's further progress.
For Albania, progress will be crucial in the key field in the rule of law, in particular across all five key reform priorities, and continuing to deliver concrete and tangible results, in the re-evaluation of judges and prosecutors (vetting). To support this, the Commission would apply the reinforced approach for the negotiating chapters on judiciary and fundamental rights and justice, freedom and security. This step forward in a long process is in line with merit-based approach and strict conditionality, most recently confirmed by the Commission's Western Balkans strategy. As stated in the Strategy for the Western Balkans, the EU itself needs to be ready for new members - once they have met the conditions - including from an institutional and financial perspective. The Union must be stronger, more solid and more efficient before it can be bigger.