The Commission reported today on progress made towards an effective and genuine Security Union. Taking stock of the developments since the beginning of this year, the report notes that a large number of priority files have been agreed – 15 out of 22 Security Union legislative initiatives presented by the Commission.
However, some of the key proposals, such as terrorist content online and the European Border and Coast Guard, still require urgent action if they are to be closed before the European Parliament elections in May 2019. On this final stretch before the elections, it is also of utmost importance to redouble efforts to fight disinformation and boost electoral and digital resilience.
The report highlights the following areas where further action is needed:
- Finalising priority files: A number of priority security files have been agreed by the European Parliament and the Council, including restrictions on the marketing and use of explosives precursors, the establishment of new EU information systems and the reinforcement of the existing ones allowing them to work in an interoperable way. Provisional agreement was also reached on the Commission proposal to strengthen the security of identity cards and residence documents. However, there are still important proposals, such as the removal of terrorist content online and the reinforcement of the European Border and Coast Guard, which can and should be agreed before the European Parliament elections.
- Building electoral resilience and fighting disinformation: Overall, considerable progress has been made towards more coordinated action on electoral resilience, including the introduction of stricter rules on political party funding. The Commission has also been closely monitoring measures taken to tackle disinformation by online platforms. Earlier this week, the Rapid Alert System, one of the key deliverables under the Action Plan against Disinformation, was launched. However, given the time pressure ahead of the European elections in May, the Commission calls on all actors, notably online platforms but also government authorities and political parties, to redouble their efforts to step up electoral resilience and to counter disinformation.
- Enhancing critical infrastructure: With 5G networks set to become the backbone of global connectivity, any vulnerability could be exploited, potentially causing significant cross-border damage. To safeguard against this threat to critical digital infrastructure, a common EU approach to the security of 5G networks is needed. The Commission will issue a recommendation for a common EU approach to security risks to 5G networks, following this week’s European Council.
- Fighting terrorism and protecting public spaces: The Commission has been actively supporting Member States and local authorities in their fight against the threat posed by terrorism, among others, by better protecting public spaces. Following the discussions at the Operators’ Forum, the Commission together with public authorities and private operators has identified a set of good practices to strengthen the security of public spaces. In addition, to better support the victims of terrorism, the Commission will fund a new EU Centre of Expertise – a platform for practitioners dealing with victims of terrorism – which will be set up in 2019.
The European Commission has fined Google €1.49 billion for breaching EU antitrust rules. Google has abused its market dominance by imposing a number of restrictive clauses in contracts with third-party websites which prevented Google’s rivals from placing their search adverts on these websites.
Based on a broad range of evidence, the Commission found that Google’s conduct harmed competition and consumers, and stifled innovation. Google’s rivals were unable to grow and offer alternative online search advertising intermediation services to those of Google. As a result, owners of websites had limited options for monetizing space on these websites and were forced to rely almost solely on Google.
The Commission’s Chief Negotiator for Article 50 negotiations with the UK, Michel Barnier updated the College on the latest state of play following the General Affairs Council (Article 50) yesterday and the Secretary-General of the European Commission Martin Selmayr informed Commissioners on the state of play of the Commission’s contingency and preparedness work in the case of a no deal scenario. Nearly all foreseen contingency measures have been approved. Only two last measures still need to be adopted, namely short term visas and the EU budget for 2019.
European Council preparations
Finally, the College focused on preparations for the European Council which will take place at the end of this week.
Factsheet: A Europe that protects
Communication: 18th Progress Report toward an effective and genuine Security Union
Annex: List of legislative initiatives
Staff Working Document: Good practices to support the protection of public spaces
Eurobarometer on Cybersecurity
Commission fines Google €1.49 billion for abusive practices in online advertising