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Understanding the EU response to organised crime

31-08-2020

The EU has made substantial progress in terms of protecting its citizens since the early 1990s, often in response to dramatic incidents, such as mafia or other organised crime group murders, big money-laundering scandals, a steep increase in migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings following the 2015 migration crisis, or – more recently – a sharp rise in cybercrime, fraud and counterfeiting during the coronavirus pandemic. Criminal organisations continue to pose big risks to the internal ...

The EU has made substantial progress in terms of protecting its citizens since the early 1990s, often in response to dramatic incidents, such as mafia or other organised crime group murders, big money-laundering scandals, a steep increase in migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings following the 2015 migration crisis, or – more recently – a sharp rise in cybercrime, fraud and counterfeiting during the coronavirus pandemic. Criminal organisations continue to pose big risks to the internal security of the EU. A rising number of organised crime groups are active in its territory, often with cross-border reach. Organised crime is furthermore an increasingly dynamic and complex phenomenon, with new criminal markets and modi operandi emerging under the influence of globalisation and – in particular – new technologies. While the impact of serious and organised crime on the EU economy is considerable, there are also significant political and social costs, as well as negative effects on the wellbeing of EU citizens. As organised crime has become more interconnected, international and digital, Member States – which remain responsible for operational activities in the area of police and judicial cooperation – increasingly rely on cross-border and EU-level cooperation to support their law enforcement authorities on the ground. Recognising the severity of the problem and the need for coordinated action, the EU has initiated several measures to encourage closer cooperation between Member States and adopted common legal, judicial and investigative frameworks to address organised crime. Parliament has made fighting organised crime a political priority and has helped shape the relevant EU legislation. Future EU action will focus on implementing existing rules, improving operational cooperation – even beyond the EU’s boundaries – and information-sharing, as well as addressing some of the main criminal activities of organised crime groups. Furthermore, the EU aims to make sure that crime does not pay.

Coronavirus and prisons in the EU: Member-State measures to reduce spread of the virus

22-06-2020

The coronavirus crisis has put huge pressure on European prisons, already often affected by chronic overcrowding and poor healthcare services. Ensuring strict sanitary conditions, adequate health monitoring and the necessary distancing to prevent an outbreak in these closed environments − particularly vulnerable to contagion − has been a considerable challenge for most, if not all EU Member States. Starting from March 2020, as lockdowns and states of emergency gradually came into force across Europe ...

The coronavirus crisis has put huge pressure on European prisons, already often affected by chronic overcrowding and poor healthcare services. Ensuring strict sanitary conditions, adequate health monitoring and the necessary distancing to prevent an outbreak in these closed environments − particularly vulnerable to contagion − has been a considerable challenge for most, if not all EU Member States. Starting from March 2020, as lockdowns and states of emergency gradually came into force across Europe, EU Member States have taken a number of containment measures to protect prisoners' health. These measures have consisted mostly of suspending all visits and regular activities in order to limit contacts among detainees and also between detainees and the outside world. Transfers of prisoners between EU countries have been put on hold as well. Improved sanitary measures have been taken in detention centres, in terms of both personal hygiene and cleanliness of premises. At the same time, several Member States have sought to reduce overcrowding, by limiting entries and increasing exits, for instance by postponing the execution of sentences or using alternatives to detention. However, according to the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, at least half the Member States did not seek alternatives to detention. This briefing looks into the various measures adopted by Member States between early March and the end of May 2020 in response to the challenges posed to the Union's prisons by the coronavirus crisis. While, at the time of writing, containment measures in many Member States are gradually being eased, the long-term impact of the pandemic on prison conditions and populations remains to be seen.

Understanding EU data protection policy

20-05-2020

The near-ubiquity of data in the lives of ordinary people, along with its exponential growth in generation rate and potential misuse, has made the protection of personal information an increasingly important social, legal and political matter for the EU. In recent years, both awareness of data rights and expectations for EU action in this area have grown considerably. The right to privacy and the right to protection of personal data are both enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU ...

The near-ubiquity of data in the lives of ordinary people, along with its exponential growth in generation rate and potential misuse, has made the protection of personal information an increasingly important social, legal and political matter for the EU. In recent years, both awareness of data rights and expectations for EU action in this area have grown considerably. The right to privacy and the right to protection of personal data are both enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU and the EU Treaties. The entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009 gave the Charter the same legal value as the Treaties and abolished the pillar structure, providing a stronger basis for a more effective and comprehensive data protection regime in the EU. In 2012, the European Commission launched an ambitious reform to modernise the EU data protection framework. It resulted in the adoption in 2016 of the main EU data protection legislative instrument – the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – and the Law Enforcement Directive. The framework overhaul also included adopting an updated Regulation on Data Processing in the EU Institutions and reforming the ePrivacy Directive, pending in the Council since September 2017. The European Parliament has played a major role in passing these reforms, both as co-legislator and author of own-initiative reports and resolutions seeking to guarantee a high level of data protection to EU citizens. Last but not least, the European Court of Justice has also played an important part in building the EU data protection framework, with several landmark judgments delivered in recent years. In the coming years, potential challenges to the data protection framework include the question of how to adapt the GDPR to emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, facial recognition technology and the Internet of Things. Potential fragmentation issues include differing Member State interpretations of consent for data processing, while compliance burdens for SMEs and insufficient resources for data protection authorities may present challenges for enforcement. The European Commission is expected to address these issues in its upcoming evaluation of the GDPR.

States of emergency in response to the coronavirus crisis: Situation in certain Member States II

13-05-2020

Member States have adopted a range of emergency measures in response to the unprecedented public health crises generated by the coronavirus pandemic. Whereas not all Member States dispose of constitutional mechanisms to enable the declaration of a 'state of emergency', all have taken exceptional and far-reaching emergency measures that affect citizens' rights and freedoms as well as democratic processes. These institutional changes and the restrictions imposed on citizens' lives pose significant ...

Member States have adopted a range of emergency measures in response to the unprecedented public health crises generated by the coronavirus pandemic. Whereas not all Member States dispose of constitutional mechanisms to enable the declaration of a 'state of emergency', all have taken exceptional and far-reaching emergency measures that affect citizens' rights and freedoms as well as democratic processes. These institutional changes and the restrictions imposed on citizens' lives pose significant institutional and democratic challenges. Given their impact on fundamental rights and freedoms and on the normal functioning of democracy, emergency measures need to be carefully examined, matched with adequate legal safeguards, and subject to close democratic scrutiny. This is particularly true in the context of rapid changes of circumstances and in view of new evidence about the evolution of the crisis and its implications. This briefing covers the following countries: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Malta, Austria, Romania, and Slovenia. It focuses on three key aspects: i) the constitutional framework of the state emergency or legitimation of the emergency legislation; ii) the concrete measures adopted; and iii) the extent of parliamentary oversight exercised on the adopted measures. This briefing is the second in a series aimed at providing a comparative overview of Member States' institutional responses to the coronavirus crisis. The first in the series covered an initial set of seven Member States.

Hearings of the Commissioners-designate: Margaritis Schinas – Vice-President: Promoting the European way of life

26-09-2019

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication ...

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication skills'. At the end of the hearings process, Parliament votes on the proposed Commission as a bloc, and under the Treaties may only reject the entire College of Commissioners, rather than individual candidates. The Briefing provides an overview of key issues in the portfolio areas, as well as Parliament's activity in the last term in that field. It also includes a brief introduction to the candidate.

Hearings of the Commissioners-designate: Didier Reynders - Justice

26-09-2019

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication ...

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication skills'. At the end of the hearings process, Parliament votes on the proposed Commission as a bloc, and under the Treaties may only reject the entire College of Commissioners, rather than individual candidates. The Briefing provides an overview of key issues in the portfolio areas, as well as Parliament's activity in the last term in that field. It also includes a brief introduction to the candidate.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: The fight against terrorism

28-06-2019

Faced with a growing international terrorist threat, the European Union (EU) is playing an ever more ambitious role in counter-terrorism. Even though primary responsibility for combating crime and ensuring security lies with the Member States, the EU provides cooperation, coordination and (to some extent) harmonisation tools, as well as financial support, to address this borderless phenomenon. Moreover, the assumption that there is a connection between development and stability, as well as between ...

Faced with a growing international terrorist threat, the European Union (EU) is playing an ever more ambitious role in counter-terrorism. Even though primary responsibility for combating crime and ensuring security lies with the Member States, the EU provides cooperation, coordination and (to some extent) harmonisation tools, as well as financial support, to address this borderless phenomenon. Moreover, the assumption that there is a connection between development and stability, as well as between internal and external security, has come to shape EU action beyond its own borders. EU spending in the area of counter-terrorism has increased over the years and is set to grow in the future, to allow for better cooperation between national law enforcement authorities and enhanced support by the EU bodies in charge of security, such as Europol and eu-LISA. Financing for cooperation with third countries has also increased, including through the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace. The many new rules and instruments that have been adopted since 2014 range from harmonising definitions of terrorist offences and sanctions, and sharing information and data, to protecting borders, countering terrorist financing, and regulating firearms. To evaluate the efficiency of the existing tools and identify gaps and possible ways forward, the European Parliament set up a Special Committee on Terrorism (TERR), which delivered its report in November 2018. TERR made extensive recommendations for immediate or longer term actions aiming to prevent terrorism, combat its root causes, protect EU citizens and assist victims in the best possible way. In line with these recommendations, future EU counterterrorism action will most probably focus on addressing existing and new threats, countering radicalisation – including by preventing the spread of terrorist propaganda online – and enhancing the resilience of critical infrastructure. Foreseeable developments also include increased information sharing, with planned interoperability between EU security- and border-related databases, as well as investigation and prosecution of terrorist crimes at EU level, through the proposed extension of the mandate of the recently established European Public Prosecutor's Office. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

Interoperability between EU border and security information systems

14-06-2019

To enhance EU external border management and internal security, the European Commission has made several proposals to upgrade and expand European border and security information systems. As part of a broader process to maximise their use, the Commission presented legislative proposals for two regulations in December 2017 (amended in June 2018), establishing an interoperability framework between EU information systems on borders and visas, and on police and judicial cooperation, asylum and migration ...

To enhance EU external border management and internal security, the European Commission has made several proposals to upgrade and expand European border and security information systems. As part of a broader process to maximise their use, the Commission presented legislative proposals for two regulations in December 2017 (amended in June 2018), establishing an interoperability framework between EU information systems on borders and visas, and on police and judicial cooperation, asylum and migration. After completion of the legislative procedure at first reading in the Parliament and in the Council, the final acts were signed by the co-legislators on 20 May 2019 and published in the Official Journal two days later. Both acts came into force on 11 June 2019. The new rules aim to improve checks at the EU’s external borders, allow for better detection of security threats and identity fraud, and help in preventing and combating irregular migration. Third edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Sistema europeo di informazione sui casellari giudiziari / ECRIS

06-03-2019

Nel corso del mese di marzo, il Parlamento europeo voterà in Aula su due proposte legislative volte a migliorare il sistema europeo di informazione sui casellari giudiziari (ECRIS). Il sistema consente ai giudici e ai procuratori di chiedere informazioni sui precedenti penali di qualsiasi cittadino dell'UE. Tuttavia, nella versione attuale sistema non consente un facile accesso alle informazioni sui cittadini di paesi terzi condannati nell'UE. Le nuove norme mirano a colmare questa lacuna.

Nel corso del mese di marzo, il Parlamento europeo voterà in Aula su due proposte legislative volte a migliorare il sistema europeo di informazione sui casellari giudiziari (ECRIS). Il sistema consente ai giudici e ai procuratori di chiedere informazioni sui precedenti penali di qualsiasi cittadino dell'UE. Tuttavia, nella versione attuale sistema non consente un facile accesso alle informazioni sui cittadini di paesi terzi condannati nell'UE. Le nuove norme mirano a colmare questa lacuna.

Lotta al riciclaggio di denaro mediante il diritto penale

05-09-2018

Anche se il riciclaggio di denaro costituisce un reato in tutti gli Stati membri dell'UE, le definizioni e le sanzioni variano all'interno dell'Unione europea. Tali differenze possono essere sfruttate dai criminali svolgendo le loro operazioni finanziarie in paesi con norme meno severe. Durante la sessione plenaria di settembre, il Parlamento europeo si accinge a votare una proposta relativa a una nuova direttiva volta ad armonizzare le norme e le sanzioni nell'Unione europea, agevolando la cooperazione ...

Anche se il riciclaggio di denaro costituisce un reato in tutti gli Stati membri dell'UE, le definizioni e le sanzioni variano all'interno dell'Unione europea. Tali differenze possono essere sfruttate dai criminali svolgendo le loro operazioni finanziarie in paesi con norme meno severe. Durante la sessione plenaria di settembre, il Parlamento europeo si accinge a votare una proposta relativa a una nuova direttiva volta ad armonizzare le norme e le sanzioni nell'Unione europea, agevolando la cooperazione transfrontaliera al fine di combattere il riciclaggio di denaro e il finanziamento del terrorismo.

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