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#Security: 'We need to work quickly and effectively in order to combat terrorism'

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Only days after the terrorist attack in London the civil liberties committee discussed the EU's security situation with German Interior Minister Interior Thomas de Maizière and his French counterpart Matthias Fekl debated on 27 March. Both ministers spoke about the need to secure the EU's external borders, to better share information between EU countries and to address the new challenges of radicalisation and terrorism.

Fekl started the debate by referring to the events in London: “No citizen, no member state, can feel safe from a terrorist attack at the moment, and we need to work quickly and effectively in order to combat terrorism.”

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While some recent attacks in Europe were perpetrated by home-grown terrorists, both ministers agreed that working on securing the external borders was crucial. Fekl said: “It is only through securing our external borders fully that we can enjoy free circulation.”

MEPs recently approved new rules for EU border checks to better identify returning foreign fighters. MEPs are also working on a new entry-exit system to step up controls on non-EU nationals travelling to the EU, which de Maizière described as “the prerequisite for maintaining a border check free Schengen area”.

Discussions also focused on encryption, as UK authorities want access to encoded messages to conduct investigations on the London attack. Fekl stressed that there was currently no legal basis for obliging Internet operators to cooperate with judicial inquiries and invited the European Commission to consider new legislation.

Many MEPs expressed concerns about the loopholes in implementing existing tools, such as the directive on the use of passenger name records (PNR). Monika Hohlmeier, a German MEP of the EPP group, said improving the use of current data bases was essential.

Helga Stevens, a Belgian MEP of the ECR group, stressed the importance of developing preventive measures, in particular in order to tackle radicalisation.

Some MEPs also highlighted the right to data protection when processing and sharing personal information. German S&D MEP Birgit Sippel said we should know who has access to what data.

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EU can be €2 trillion better off by 2030 if cross-border data transfers are secured

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DigitalEurope, the leading trade association representing digitally transforming industries in Europe and which has long list of corporate members including Facebook are calling for an overhaul of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). A new study commissioned by the lobby shows that policy decisions on international data transfers now will have significant effects on growth and jobs across the whole European economy by 2030, impacting Europe’s Digital Decade goals.

Overall, Europe could be €2 trillion better off by the end of the Digital Decade if we reverse current trends and harness the power of international data transfers. This is roughly the size of the entire Italian economy any given year. The majority of the pain in our negative scenario would be self-inflicted (around 60%). The effects of the EU’s own policy on data transfers, under the GDPR and as part of the data strategy, outweigh those of restrictive measures taken by our major trade partners. All sectors and sizes of the economy are impacted across all Member States. Data-reliant sectors make up around half of EU GDP. In terms of exports, manufacturing is likely to be hit the hardest by restrictions on data flows. This is a sector where SMEs make up a quarter of all exports. "Europe stands at a crossroads. It can either set the right framework for the Digital Decade now and facilitate the international data flows that are vital to its economic success, or it can slowly follow its current trend and move towards data protectionism. Our study shows that we could be missing out on around €2 trillion worth of growth by 2030, the same size as the Italian economy. The growth of the digital economy and the success of European companies is dependent on the ability to transfer data. This is especially so when we note that already in 2024, 85 per cent of the world’s GDP growth is expected to come from outside the EU. We urge policymakers to use the GDPR data transfer mechanisms as it was intended, namely to facilitate – not to hinder – international data flows, and to work towards a rule-based agreement on data flows at the WTO." Cecilia Bonefeld-Dahl
Director General of DIGITALEUROPE
Read the full report here Policy recommendations
The EU should: Uphold the viability of GDPR transfer mechanisms, for example: standard contractual clauses, adequacy decisions Safeguard international data transfers in the data strategy Prioritise securing a deal on data flows as part of the WTO eCommerce negotiations
Key findings
In our negative scenario, which reflects our current path, Europe could miss out on: €1.3 trillion extra growth by 2030, the equivalent to the size of the Spanish economy; € 116 billion exports annually, the equivalent to Sweden’s exports outside the EU, or those of the ten smallest countries of the EU combined; and 3 million jobs. In our optimistic scenario, the EU stands to gain: €720 billion extra growth by 2030 or 0.6 per cent GDP per year; €60 billion exports per year, over half coming from manufacturing; and 700,000 jobs, many of which are highly skilled. The difference between these two scenarios is €2 trillion in terms of GDP for the EU economy by the end of the Digital Decade. The sector that stands to lose the most is manufacturing, suffering a loss of €60 billion in exports. Proportionately, media, culture, finance, ICT and most business services, such as consulting, stand to lose the most – about 10 per cent of their exports. However, these same sectors are those that stand to gain the most should we manage to change our current direction. A majority (around 60 per cent) of the EU’s export losses in the negative scenario come from an increase in its own restrictions rather than from third countries’ actions. Data localisation requirements could also hurt sectors that do not participate heavily in international trade, such as healthcare. Up to a quarter of inputs into the provision of healthcare consist of data-reliant products and services. In the major sectors affected, SMEs account for around a third (manufacturing) and two-thirds (services such as finance or culture) of turnover. Exports by data-reliant manufacturing SMEs in the EU are worth around €280 billion. In the negative scenario, exports from EU SMEs would fall by €14 billion, while in the growth scenario they would increase by €8 Data transfers will be worth at least €3 trillion to the EU economy by 2030. This is a conservative estimate because the model’s focus is international trade. Restrictions on internal data flows, e.g. internationally within the same company, mean this figure is likely much higher.
More information on the study
The study looks at two realistic scenarios, closely aligned with current policy debates. The first, ‘negative’ scenario (referred to throughout the study as the ‘challenge scenario’) takes into account current restrictive interpretations of the Schrems II ruling from the Court of Justice of the EU, whereby data transfer mechanisms under the GDPR are made largely unusable. It also takes into account an EU data strategy that places restrictions on the transfers of non-personal data abroad. Further afield, it considers a situation where major trade partners tighten restrictions on the flow of data, including through data localisation. The study identifies sectors in the EU that rely heavily on data, and calculates the impact of restrictions to cross-border transfers on the EU economy up to 2030. These digitising sectors, across a variety of industries and business sizes, including a large proportion of SMEs, make up half of EU GDP.
Read the full report here

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Cross-border security

56th #MunichSecurityConference: #Tokayev addresses #Afghan problem.

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Between February 14 and 16, more than 500 high-ranking international decision-makers are coming together for the 56th Munich Security Conference chaired by Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger. The representatives from politics, business, science and civil society will discuss current crises and future security challenges in Munich.

A total of over 35 heads of state and government and over 100 foreign and defence ministers are expected at the conference. You will find an updated preliminary list of high-ranking participants

Key amongst these is the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who addressed the conference on the subject of the resolution of the Afghan problem.

“Kazakhstan supports effective cooperation formats with the participation of Afghanistan, including such authoritative platforms as CICA, SCO, Istanbul Process, CAREC and RECCA forums and other programmes (TIFA, SPECA).”  President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev told the conference.

“Our country is also continuing to implement an educational programme worth $50 million for more than a thousand Afghan students.

To improve communication on all these issues, a Special Representative of the Republic of Kazakhstan for Afghanistan will be appointed soon.

We closely monitor the processes of domestic reconciliation in Afghanistan and hope for a responsible US withdrawal from this country without a power vacuum. Sustainable development in Afghanistan will be enhanced by strengthening economic relations with Central Asia, in a way that the region could “export stability” to this country. Another example of successful cooperation and a contribution to regional and global security was Operation Zhusan, where with the logistical support from the United States, Kazakhstan brought back more than 500 of its citizens, mainly women and children, from Syria.

Now we face a more complex and long-term task to rehabilitate these citizens. We will cooperate with the United States and the global community in this direction. During Kazakhstan’s membership in the UN Security Council in 2017-2018, our country defended the common interests of Central Asia, promoting issues that are of particular relevance to the successful and safe development of our region. Among them are issues of combating terrorism and extremism, drug trafficking and organized crime, illegal migration, as well as ensuring border security and the promotion of the Central Asian zone free from nuclear weapons.”

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Cross-border security

#BiometricIDs mean fewer stolen identities

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In the past six years, around 40,000 IDs have been uncovered as fraudulent and thousands of children have disappeared. These numbers could significantly drop, thanks to EU common standards for ID cards and residency permits the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs have voted on.

Carlos Coelho MEP, EPP group Spokesman on the new EU rules, said: “The EPP Group has fought for more security for identity cards. There are more than 80 types of ID cards in Europe and more than 180 residency permit types. These documents are the most commonly falsified, both at our borders and inside our territory. 13 out of 28 EU countries do not include any biometric data of their holders. That means that stolen IDs issued in almost half of the EU member states can be easily used by terrorists or criminals to enter the EU. By harmonizing security standards, namely through chips and the inclusion of facial imaging and fingerprints, we will greatly reduce the possibility of identity theft.”

Member states will have the possibility to issue IDs for children over six years old with biometric data on them. Carlos Coelho explained: “In order to find missing children or prevent traffickers crossing borders with a missing child, we need to know their identity. For these security reasons, the EPP group has made sure that biometrics can be collected from children as of six years old.”

The new rules also aim at ensuring that all member states accept ID cards from other EU countries as a means of identification. “What we negotiated in the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee will not only positively affect security in the EU but will also make people’s lives easier. With biometric IDs, European citizens enjoying their right of free movement will stop encountering problems proving their identity or accessing public services. We will make it mandatory for member states to recognize these documents,” Coelho concluded.

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