On 11 May, the European Parliament sitting in plenary in Strasbourg, passed two pieces of legislation. Both passed in second reading, after an informal deal with the Council. Upon their approval by MEPs, both will enter into force. The first is a new Europol regulation. The European Police Office exists since late 1990s as an intergovernmental body, based first on a separate treaty, then on an EU decision. This revision transforms it into an EU agency and in line with the Lisbon Treaty provisions, provides the European Parliament and national parliaments with scrutiny powers. Also, it provides for better data protection regime, since Europol processes a lot of personal data in its databases. Not least, the new regulation makes Europol more effective by clarifying its competences and streamlining the rules of its functioning. The new Europol will be able to store and combine data in its databases, use them in investigations and exchange them not only with EU institutions and member state authorities, but also with third countries and, most importantly, with private companies. This is especially necessary in the online arena – Facebook, Google and other companies are private and only via working closely with them can Europol face online crime.
The second piece of legislation is a directive updating rules for visas for students and researchers. This directive streamlines the rules, by bringing together two directives, and widens the scope of the directive to all trainees, volunteers and au-pairs from third countries. EU has a separate, more favorable immigration regime for students and researchers in order to attract smart and motivated young people to the EU. In addition to general streamlining of the rules, the new directive introduces an option for students and researchers (but not the other categories covered by the directive!) to stay in the EU for 9 months upon finishing their studies/research. This would allow them to search for work, or set up a business. This way, they would be able to stay in the EU and bring profits to the society that provided them with education. Of course, when employed, they would need to fulfill all residency permit criteria.
11th January 2018
8th January 2018
19th December 2017