The Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the member states adopted conclusions on Statelessness.
Jean Asselborn, Minister of Immigration and Asylum of Luxembourg and President of the Council said: “We have undertaken today to act together on behalf of stateless persons: those who do not have rights, who cannot participate in any political system and who do not have access to any social benefits. The UNHCR has launched a campaign to eradicate statelessness and we will play our full part in this. We have to unite in our efforts within an EU which stands by its values and protects the weakest.”
Conclusions of the Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States on Statelessness
Recalling that the right to a nationality is a fundamental right recognised by Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that this is one of the basic principles of the 1997 European Convention of Nationality;
Recalling that the right to acquire a nationality has been reiterated in a number of instruments of international human rights law such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child;
Recognising that stateless persons do not enjoy their right to a nationality and the importance of the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness;
Recalling the EU’s pledge of September 2012 that all EU Member States will accede to the 1954 Convention and will consider acceding to the 1961 Convention;
Recalling that the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union in its Article 67.2 states that stateless persons shall be treated as third-country nationals when devising and implementing a common policy on asylum, immigration and external border control;
Recalling that the Global Approach to Migration and Mobility of 2005 refers to stateless persons as a particularly vulnerable group stating that the EU should encourage non-EU countries to address the issue of stateless persons by taking measures to reduce statelessness;
Recalling the European Union’s 2012 Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy and its Action Plan that proposes the establishment of a joint framework to tackle statelessness issues with non-EU countries, which has subsequently been adopted;
Recalling the European Union’s Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (2015-2019) which states that the EU will continue to address statelessness in relation to priority countries, focus efforts on preventing the emergence of stateless populations as a result of conflict, displacement and the break-up of states;
Recalling that the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund 2014-2020 can be used to finance measures addressed to stateless persons, in particular for their integration in their host communities;
Recalling that the UNHCR estimates that there are at least 10 million stateless persons worldwide;
Recalling that stateless persons are often prevented from participating in economic, social and political life in their host states or in their states of birth;
THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION AND THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE GOVERNMENTS OF THE MEMBER STATES:
While acknowledging that the acquisition of nationality falls within the competence of Member States and, under international law, it is for each Member State, having due regard to Union law, to lay down the conditions for the acquisition and loss of nationality;
Welcome the UNHCR 10-year campaign to end statelessness by 2024;
Acknowledge the importance of identifying stateless persons and strengthening their protection thus allowing them to enjoy core fundamental rights and reducing the risk of discrimination or unequal treatment;
Take note of the current statelessness determination procedures some Member States have in place as well as of national mechanisms ensuring their protection;
Recognise the importance of exchanging good practices among Member States concerning the collection of reliable data on stateless persons as well as the procedures for determining statelessness;
Invite the Commission to launch exchanges of good practices among Member States, using the European Migration Network as a platform;
Invite Member States’ national contact points to actively participate in that platform providing all relevant information with a view to ensuring that it will be a useful instrument in order to achieve the objectives of reducing the number of stateless people, strengthening their protection and reducing the risk of discrimination.
EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) directive
On 4 December 2015 the Council approved the compromise text agreed with the European Parliament on the proposal for a directive on the use of passenger name record [PNR data] for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime.
“The compromise agreed today will enable the EU to set up an effective PNR system which fully respects fundamental rights and freedoms”, said Etienne Schneider, Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Internal Security and President of the Council.
The directive aims to regulate the transfer from the airlines to the member states of PNR data of passengers of international flights, as well as the processing of this data by the competent authorities. The directive establishes that PNR data collected may only be processed for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist offences and serious crime.
Under the new directive, air carriers will be obliged to provide member states’ authorities with the PNR data for flights entering or departing from the EU. It will also allow, but not oblige, member states to collect PNR data concerning selected intra-EU flights. Each member state will be required to set up a so-called Passenger Information Unit, which will receive the PNR data from the air carriers.
The new rules create an EU standard for the use of such data and include provisions on:
§ the purposes for which PNR data can be processed in the context of law enforcement (pre-arrival assessment of passengers against pre-determined risk criteria or in order to identify specific persons; the use in specific investigations/prosecutions; input in the development of risk assessment criteria);
§ the exchange of such data between the member states and between member states and third countries;
§ storage (data will initially be stored for 6 months, after which they will be masked out and stored for another period of four years and a half, with a strict procedure to access the full data);
§ common protocols and data formats for transferring the PNR data from the air carriers to the Passenger Information Units; and
§ strong safeguards as regards protection of privacy and personal data, including the role of national supervisory authorities and the mandatory appointment of a data protection officer in each Passenger Information Unit.
PNR data are already today stored in the carriers’ reservation systems. They concern the information provided by passengers to carriers when booking a flight and when checking in on flights. PNR data includes the name, travel dates, travel itinerary, ticket information, contact details, travel agent at which the flight was booked, means of payment used, seat number and baggage information.
The use of these data by member states’ law enforcement bodies in specific cases is nothing new: Various member states already use PNR data for law enforcement purposes, either on the basis of specific legislation or on the basis of general legal powers. The collection and use of PNR data has been essential in fighting certain cross-border crimes, such as drug trafficking in human beings or children trafficking. However, there is as yet no common approach across the EU.
The UK and Ireland have opted in to this directive. Denmark is not participating.
The Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee is expected to vote soon.
The directive will be then submitted, following legal-linguistic revision, to the European Parliament for a vote at first reading, and to the Council for adoption.
Once adopted, member states will have two years to bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this directive.
Filed under: European Union/Avrupa Birliği, Immigration, Security - Sécurité - Emniyet, Temel Hak ve Özgürlükler/Fundamental Rights, Tourism/Tourisme/Turizm Tagged: | Civil and Political Rights, Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness;cross-border crimes, Convention on the Rights of the Child; Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, Drug Trafficking, EU Parliament’s Civil Liberties and Justice and Home Affairs, EU Passenger Name Record directive, Jean Asselborn, Passenger Information Unit, PNR data, UNHCR, Universal Declaration of Human Rights