• Talks with 8 non-EU countries countries on personal data exchanges with Europol about to start 
  • Aim is to prevent and combat terrorism and organized crime 
  • MEPs want clear safeguards for personal data and fundamental rights and freedoms  

MEPs stress need for personal data safeguards ahead of talks with eight non-EU countries to strengthen cooperation with Europol.

The aim of strengthening cooperation is to prevent and combat terrorism and organized crime, and to better address migration-related challenges such as the facilitation of irregular migration and trafficking in human beings.

MEPs gave their input to the upcoming negotiations with Jordan, Turkey, Israel, Tunisia, Morocco, Lebanon, Egypt, and Algeria on data exchanges with Europol in a vote on Wednesday.

Assess impact

A thorough impact assessment is needed to evaluate the risks posed by the proposed transfers of personal data, say MEPs. Clear safeguards are necessary not only to protect data, but also to ensure that fundamental rights and freedoms are respected, given the differing legal frameworks, societal characteristics and cultural backgrounds of the eight countries as compared with the EU.

Ensure equivalent protection

If the agreements do not afford a level of protection equivalent to that provided by EU law, then they cannot be concluded, say the resolutions.

Quote

Civil Liberties Committee Chair and rapporteur Claude Moraes (S&D, UK) said: "Today, we are sending an important political signal to both Council and Commission, but also the countries concerned, of what the limits and guiding principles should be for the upcoming negotiations. We have set out a number of red lines, including on further processing, data retention periods, the principle of specificity, and the prohibition of data exchange if there is a risk of cruel or inhuman treatment. There can be no weakening of the level of protection provided in EU law, either directly or indirectly, and we call for European standards of data protection, human rights and accountability to be upheld."

Next steps

The Council has already given the EU Commission the green light  to start negotiations on behalf of the EU. Parliament will have to give its consent to the agreements after they have been negotiated, but before they can be concluded.