Europol reform and counter-terrorism agenda must protect people, preserve rights
The European Commission presented, on 9 December, two new proposals, on the revision of Europol's mandate and the new counter-terrorism strategy.
Saskia Bricmont MEP, Greens/EFA Member of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee, comments:
"Police cooperation is crucial to foster an area of freedom, security and justice, and to counter security challenges. Europol may need some reforms, but today's Commission's proposals are just meant to legalise illegal practices, especially when it comes to data collection and processing. It is premature to propose this reform now, two years before the foreseen date and without a proper evaluation of the existing mandate. The fundamental rights-related implications of all Europol’s work and activities should be systematically assessed, in a transparent manner.
"Europol needs strengthened safeguards for data protection and fundamental rights across all its activities, including when cooperating with third countries. Any changes should aim to increase data protection standards and include specific safeguards for biometric data. Europol should lead by example when it comes to good practices in policing and internal functioning.
"There needs to be far greater democratic scrutiny of Europol’s activities. The current oversight mechanisms remain superficial and there is a lack of accountability. The more Europol develops investigative and technological capacities, the more legal guarantees and parliamentary scrutiny is needed to prevent mass surveillance of citizens and violations of fundamental rights."
Patrick Breyer MEP (Pirate Party), Greens/EFA Member of the Legal Affairs Committee, comments:
"It's vital that we get the fight against terrorism right, so that it doesn't jeopardise our fundamental rights, which would be doing the terrorists work. The proposed mass surveillance of innocent citizens by deploying error-prone and discriminatory facial recognition in public spaces, as well as recording everybody's travel movements, is the work of surveillance extremists. No amount of mass surveillance can make up for authorities repeatedly having failed in monitoring would-be-terrorists long known to the police. In countering terrorism there is no deficit in surveillance, there is a deficit in targeted enforcement."