How France and Germany want to close EU security gaps at the European Championships and Olympic Games – Euractiv

Patchy exchange of police information across the EU makes it more difficult to protect the summer’s international sporting tournaments, leaving France and Germany dependent on bilateral cooperation to close gaps.

The security situation deteriorated in the run-up to the European Football Championship in Germany and the Olympic Games in Paris, with threats ranging from hooliganism to Islamist terrorism and Russia’s hybrid warfare.

Already in its first week, the Euros have seen a number of incidents, with an attempted hammer attack in Hamburg and brawls in Gelsenkirchen ahead of the match between Serbia and England.

Faced with this tense situation, host countries France and Germany agreed in advance to support each other’s police forces on the ground to maintain public order.

What looks like just a symbol is in reality a measure to close important security gaps, as EU police forces still do not have easy access to police assessments and information from their European neighbors.

“General police assessments, apart from criminal records, are difficult to share in Europe due to legal uncertainty – there are no standardized rules and data guidelines on why someone is considered dangerous,” Raphael Bossong, an EU home affairs expert at the SWP, told me -thinktank. Euractiv.

Information collected in one country based on national legal standards – for example about who qualifies as a potential threat to public safety – may be problematic in another, leaving insufficient legal basis for police information to be collected on a large scale available centrally, he explained.

However, in international sporting tournaments, which involve cross-border traffic and threats to public safety, quick access to information is crucial in everyday police work.

If foreign hooligans riot in one city and their team then plays in another city, “it is very important to know exactly who is where,” says Herbert Reul (CDU/EPP), the Interior Minister of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. , which is home to four Euro stadiums.

Improving information exchange in the EU is “key” to better protect such events, the former MEP told journalists ahead of the tournament.

“An unpleasant affair”

“If I had one wish, it would be that we improve the exchange of information between police forces in Europe. This is still an unpleasant affair,” he added.

Currently, some data is available in central databases such as the Schengen Information System (SIS), and information sharing on terrorist threats is also going smoothly, Bossong said.

But other information is more difficult to obtain and takes too long, despite attempts in the 2000s to speed up processes through a series of treaties, named ‘Prüm’ after the German city where they were signed.

“If French officers do not want to share their information or do not have the time, German officials cannot gain access and vice versa,” Bossong said.

To minimize such bottlenecks, German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD/S&D) and her French counterpart Gerald Darmanin (Renaissance/Renew) agreed in March to jointly provide officers to assist in each other’s police operations this summer. can integrate.

That way, people with access to national information will be readily available to share it when it is needed most, especially at events likely to involve citizens from each country, such as French Euro matches.

Existing joint units, which already serve as regular ‘human access points’ for information, will also be deployed to monitor French-German cross-border traffic as Germany reintroduces controls for the euro.

“Tricks” and improvised solutions

Germany has also set up an ‘International Police Cooperation Centre’ (IPCC), where officers from several European countries exchange intelligence based on bilateral contracts, the Interior Ministry told Euractiv.

“This has never been done before and (…) cost a fortune,” Reul said.

However, he added that “if there are already joint police stations, it would be great if the French could look at the German system and the Germans could look at the French system instead of using tricks.”

Legislative progress at EU level has been slow. At the end of the last legislative term, the EU institutions adopted an update for Prüm that expands data sharing to more categories and introduces a central IT system to simplify information requests.

However, this goes back to a pilot project from 2020 and will not come into effect until 2027.

The main obstacle – greater harmonization of standards – remains, Bossong concluded.

(Edited by Aurélie Pugnet/Zoran Radosavljevic)

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