Sat. Jun 25th, 2022

Luxembourg, 9 June 2022

Justice (9 June 2022)

Judicial responses to the situation in Ukraine

The Council exchanged views on the appropriate judicial responses in the context of the war in Ukraine.

Ministers confirmed the need to continue the coordination begun by the French presidency to support investigation and prosecution in relation to international crimes. Ministers reiterated their commitment to ensuring that, to the fullest extent possible, this war does not cause even greater suffering for displaced minors. Further to the démarches by Ukraine, they confirmed the importance of a political response at EU level.

Ministers also discussed the Commission’s recent proposal to extend the list of ‘EU crimes’ to violations of EU restrictive measures, given the exceptional situation and the need to ensure the effectiveness of EU sanctions. They responded very positively to the proposal, and discussions at technical level will resume quickly in order to meet the European Council’s call for speed.

Rights of the child

The Council adopted conclusions on the EU strategy on the rights of the child. The conclusions have a particular focus on the protection of children’s rights in crisis or emergency situations, in light of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.

More generally, the member states are called on to develop policies to enforce the rights of all children without discrimination, to increase efforts to prevent and combat all forms of violence against children, to strengthen their justice systems so that they respect the rights of all children and to increase opportunities for children to be responsible and resilient members of the digital society. A network of national contact points will make it possible to provide a more effective response to abduction alerts.

Environmental crime

The Council agreed on a partial general approach on the draft environmental crime directive. The partial general approach covers the articles and recitals defining criminal offences. Instead of the nine offences that currently exist under EU criminal law, ministers agreed on the definition of 20 offences, thus broadening and clarifying the scope of conduct that is prohibited because it harms the environment. This includes timber trafficking, a major cause of deforestation in some parts of the world, the illegal recycling of polluting boats and serious breaches of legislation on chemicals.

Ministers also discussed the harmonisation of sanction levels in order to provide guidance for further work.

Digitalisation of judicial cooperation in criminal matters

To step up the effectiveness of the tools for judicial cooperation in criminal matters and, as a result, the fight against cross-border crime, the Council approved Council general approaches on a proposal regarding digital information exchange in terrorism cases and on a proposal to establish a collaboration platform for joint investigation teams.

These proposals are part of ongoing efforts to modernise and digitalise cross-border judicial cooperation, making it easier for prosecutors and judges to exchange information and bring to justice a growing number of criminals and terrorists acting across borders.

International transfers of personal data

Over lunch ministers exchanged views on data protection in the context of international transfers of personal data. The Commission presented the state of play of discussions with the US regarding the regulatory reforms needed to adopt a new adequacy decision for the transfer of personal data, following the invalidation of the two previous decisions by the Court of Justice of the European Union. Ministers stressed the importance of adopting a robust framework that respects the existing rulings of the Court of Justice and provides businesses with the legal certainty they need.

Ministers also discussed more generally the issue of transfers of personal data and the need for a coherent and ambitious European policy on this issue, given that such transfers have become a major strategic challenge in several important areas of public policy.

Any other business

Ministers took stock of the ongoing negotiations between the Council and the European Parliament regarding the e-evidence proposals. The two institutions are now engaged in in-depth work to confirm a number of points of convergence and to prepare for political discussions on the central points of the text, which are scheduled for 14 June.

Ministers were informed about the state of play on the EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). During the current semester, the Council of Europe ad hoc group met for the 13th time. In parallel to this work, experts also focused on the preparation of the internal EU rules that will be needed.

The Commission presented its guidelines on extradition, published on 8 June 2022. This initiative notably follows concerns raised by some member states regarding the instrumentalisation of certain criminal prosecutions launched by third countries against EU citizens, including requests to member states for arrest and extradition.

The presidency informed ministers about the latest developments in work on current legislative proposals.

It also presented the agenda for the next EU-US ministerial meeting in the area of justice and home affairs.

The upcoming Czech presidency of the Council presented its work programme and priorities for the next six months.

The Council also adopted without discussion the items on the lists of legislative and non-legislative A items.

Agenda highlights

Home affairs (10 June 2022)

Estimated Schedule: 10 June 2022

  • 08:30 Arrivals (Home affairs)
  • 15:15 Public session (Home affairs)
  • 17:00 Press conference (Home affairs)
Schengen area

Ministers will be invited to adopt a general approach on the reform of the Schengen Borders Code. This proposal builds on the lessons learnt from recent challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the instrumentalisation of migrants. It seeks to provide member states with the necessary tools to respond to new challenges when managing the Schengen external border, as well as the internal borders within the Schengen area.

Ministers will also discuss the situation of the Schengen area, on the basis of a report to be presented by the European Commission.

Over lunch ministers will focus on the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex). They will discuss the governance of the agency and their expectations regarding the implementation of its mandate.

Response to the situation in UkraineMinisters will take stock of the implementation of the 10 point plan for stronger European coordination on welcoming people fleeing the war from Ukraine. They will focus in particular on the setting up of the EU platform for registration and the cooperation with Moldova. They will also discuss possible challenges related to human trafficking and trafficking of firearms.

Police cooperation

Ministers will be invited to agree general approaches on two legislative proposals to improve law enforcement cooperation. The draft directive on information exchange will ensure equivalent access for law enforcement authorities to information available in other member states and avoid the proliferation of communication channels used for information exchange, while reinforcing the role of Europol. The Prum II draft regulation will modernise the technical infrastructure supporting the Prum exchanges and broaden these exchanges to other data categories such as facial images.

Asylum and migration

The presidency will report on the state of play of ongoing work as part of the gradual, step-by-step approach. At the informal ministerial meeting which took place in Lille on 3 February, ministers gave broad support to the proposal for a gradual approach to make headway on the complex asylum and migration negotiations. On this basis, work has continued on a first step, which aims for equivalent advances in the areas of external border protection, solidarity and responsibility.

Source: European Council