The 9th Security Union progress report, published today (27 July), highlights the recent steps taken to prevent terrorist financing through trafficking in cultural goods and improve the interoperability of EU information systems.
Based on a comprehensive assessment of EU security policy since 2001, the report also highlights the remaining gaps and challenges to be addressed. Incomplete implementation of existing policies remains a challenge, as do evolving threats such as radicalisation and cybercrime — which may require changes to existing instruments.
Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said: "In this rapidly changing security environment, we must intensify our efforts to deliver on all essential elements and work swiftly to achieve a genuine and effective Security Union. Fragmentation makes us all vulnerable. Unity and trust by enhancing cooperation and facilitating information exchange between our member states is the only way for the EU to bring concrete added value and ensure the security and safety of European citizens."
Security Union Commissioner Julian King said: "The Comprehensive Assessment fulfils a commitment I gave to the European Parliament to carry out a thorough review of the EU's security policy – the first in 16 years. There are some important lessons, including the need for greater agility to respond to the evolving threat landscape. There will be an opportunity to discuss with Parliament in September."
Steady progress on key files
Steady progress has been made in recent months, notably with new rules on trafficking in cultural goods proposed in July 2017, and agreement reached on a new Entry/Exit system to register entry and exit data of non-EU nationals crossing the EU's external borders.
Work on countering radicalisation on the internet has been stepped up with an action plan of new measures set out to detect and remove illegal terrorist content online.
A renewed focus on soft target protection also saw Belgian and Dutch Special Forces simulate synchronised terrorist attacks on public schools. Supported by the Commission, the drill exercise provided valuable lessons on preparedness.
Addressing challenges and gaps in security policy
Today's report looks back at 15 years of EU security policy and whilst the assessment is positive and confirms the relevance of the main instruments of EU security policy, it also identifies challenges and gaps. This includes the need to adjust existing policies and tools to respond to the evolving threat posed by terrorism, as also highlighted by the European Council conclusions of 22-23 June 2017 and the G20 Action Plan on Countering Terrorism of 7 July 2017.
To address the challenges and gaps, the Commission will continue to take action by:
Supporting the full implementation of EU measures: The Commission will continue to support member states in implementing EU legislation, such as the EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) Directive that needs to be completed by 25 May 2018 and the Prüm framework for the exchange of DNA, fingerprint and vehicle registration data;
reducing the complexity of EU instruments and strengthening interoperability: Agreement on the Entry/Exit System is an important step towards achieving full interoperability of EU information systems by 2020 and the Commission will engage with the European Parliament and Council to accelerate work on related proposals to strengthen the Schengen Information System and EURODAC and ECRIS databases;
building up capacity by pooling resources: Building on the success of the network approach already deployed in fields like drug trafficking and transport security, the Commission will work on further pooling security expertise at EU level, notably where individual member states lack specific expertise or resources in areas such as cybersecurity, chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear materials, and;
addressing evolving threats: While the overall EU legislative framework has proven its usefulness, the Commission is continuously analysing the need for adaptations, for example with a newly established High-Level Expert Group on Radicalisation. A key area of activity in the coming months will be the review of the EU's Cybersecurity Strategy to provide an up to date and effective response to the growing threat of cybercrime. The new European Parliament special committee on terrorism will provide an additional opportunity to discuss how EU counter-terrorism measures can be adapted to constantly evolving threats.
The European Agenda on Securityguides the Commission's work in this area, setting out the main actions to ensure an effective EU response to terrorism and security threats, including countering radicalisation, boosting cybersecurity, cutting terrorist financing as well as improving information exchange. Since the adoption of the Agenda, significant progress has been made in its implementation, paving the way towards an effective and genuine Security Union. This progress is reflected in the Commission's reports published on a regular basis.
The comprehensive assessment, annexed to today's report, is based on in-house analysis by the Commission services, surveys carried out with member states' authorities and EU agencies, and an inclusive dialogue with a wide range of stakeholders including the European Parliament, national parliaments, civil society, think tanks, academia and industry representatives.
The Commission will present its comprehensive assessment to the European Parliament and the Council, and it encourages the two institutions to engage in a dialogue to examine its findings.
Today (28 October) the European Commission presented its proposals for additional measures to tackle the COVID-19 ahead of tomorrow’s meeting, via videoconference, of European heads of government.
The measures are aimed at a more coordinated approach to data sharing, testing, medical and non-medical equipment, to travel, and to vaccination strategies. President of the European Commission, von der Leyen, called for cooperation, coordination and solidarity.
Von der Leyen said: “Today we are launching additional measures in our fight against the virus; from increasing access to fast testing and preparing vaccination campaigns, to facilitating safe travel when necessary. I call on the Member States to work closely together. Courageous steps taken now will help save lives and protect livelihoods. No Member State will emerge safely from this pandemic until everyone does.”
Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides said: “The rise in COVID-19 infection rates across Europe is very alarming. Decisive immediate action is needed for Europe to protect lives and livelihoods, to alleviate the pressure on healthcare systems, and to control the spread of the virus.”
Professor Peter Piot, who is the lead scientist in the Commission’s panel of advisors echoed the President’s concerns, saying that there was no “silver bullet”. He said that Europe was paying a high price for relaxing measures in the summer, adding that measures like wearing the mask work as long as everyone does it.
He also warned against ‘corona fatigue’ and underlined that there was no trade-off between health and the economy. Pointing to a report in the Financial Times, he said that the health issue needed to be fixed to limit economic damage.
The new efforts, look at many actions:
Improving the flow of information to allow informed decision-making: The sharing of accurate, comprehensive, comparable and timely information on epidemiological data, as well as on testing, contact tracing and public health surveillance, is essential to track how the coronavirus spreads at regional and national level and providing all relevant data to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the Commission.
Establishing more effective and rapid testing: The Commission is proposing directly purchase rapid antigen tests and delivering them to Member States, using €100 million under the Emergency Support Instrument. In parallel, the Commission is launching a joint procurement to ensure a second stream of access. Travellers should be offered the possibility to undergo a test after arrival. If negative COVID-19 tests are to be required or recommended for any activity, mutual recognition of tests is essential, in particular in the context of travel.
Making full use of contact tracing and warning apps across borders: EU member states have developed 19 national contact tracing and warning apps, downloaded more than 52 million times. The Commission recently launched a solution for linking national apps across the EU through a ‘European Federation Gateway Service'. Three national apps (Germany, Ireland, and Italy) were first linked on 19 October when the system came online. The Commission calls on all states to set up effective and compatible apps and reinforce their communication efforts to promote their uptake.
Effective vaccination: The development and uptake of safe and effective vaccines is a priority effort to quickly end the crisis. Member States need to take to be fully prepared, which includes the development of national vaccination strategies. The Commission will put in place a common reporting framework and a platform to monitor the effectiveness of national vaccine strategies. To share the best practices, the conclusions of the first review on national vaccination plans will be presented in November 2020.
Effective communication to citizens: Clear communication is essential for the public health response to be successful, the Commission is calling on all Member States to relaunch communication campaigns to counter false, misleading and dangerous information that continues to circulate, and to address the risk of “pandemic fatigue”. Vaccination is a specific area where public authorities need to step up their actions to tackle misinformation and secure public trust, as there will be no compromise on safety or effectiveness under Europe's robust vaccine authorization system.
Securing essential supplies: The Commission has launched a new joint procurement for medical equipment for vaccination.
Facilitating safe travel: The Commission calls on member states to fully implement the Recommendation adopted by the Council for a common and coordinated approach to restrictions to free movement. Citizens and businesses want clarity and predictability. Any remaining COVID-19 related internal border control measures should be lifted.
The European Commission has just released its draft directive on a European minimum wage. The proposal sets out minimum standards and uniform criteria for the level of EU-wide minimum wages. The European Commission is calling on EU governments to involve social partners and trade unions in negotiations on minimum wages and to close gaps where collective agreements do not apply.
For the Greens/EFA group, the European Commission's proposal falls short of its stated ambition to fight poverty and inequality. Kira Peter-Hansen MEP, Greens/EFA co-ordinator in the Employment and Social Affairs Committee in the European Parliament, said: "Too many Europeans earn a wage they cannot live on and the number of ‘working poor’ is likely to grow during the current COVID-19 crisis. That's why it's welcome that the Commission is attempting to tackle the issue of in-work poverty, but unfortunately this proposal fails to tackle the issue.
"If a European framework on minimum wages is to make a real difference then this proposal is not up to the job. As it stands, this Directive will still see workers on as little as two euros an hour. Wages must be enough to live on across the whole of the EU.
"We welcome the proposal to guarantee wages based on collective agreements in public procurement. However, more needs to be done to give social partners the means to strengthen collective bargaining and we need to secure that the proposal do not harm well-functioning collective bargaining models European workers need access to poverty-proof wages and for the eradication of discrimination of any kind, and for all EU citizens to have a minimum income - that’s what a true Social Europe is about."
Samsung Electronics’ display unit has received licenses from US authorities to continue supplying certain display panel products to Huawei Technologies [HWT.UL], a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday (27 October).
With US-China ties at their worst in decades, Washington has been pushing governments around the world to squeeze out Huawei, arguing that the telecom giant would hand data to the Chinese government for spying. Huawei denies it spies for China.
From 15 September, new curbs have barred US companies from supplying or serving Huawei.
Samsung Display, which counts Samsung Electronics and Apple as major customers for organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display screens, declined comment.
Huawei was not immediately available for comment.
It is still unclear whether Samsung Display will be able to export its OLED panels to Huawei as other firms in the supply chain making components necessary to manufacture panels would also have to get U.S. licences.
Samsung’s cross-town rival LG Display said that it and other companies, including most semiconductor companies, need to get licences to resume business with Huawei.
Last month, Intel Corp said it had received licences from US authorities to continue supplying certain products to Huawei.