Report on the seminar
E-borders, Citizens and security : European Cross-Border Collaboration
Part 2 of the series of seminars on Border Management and future scenarios for accountable open governance of the AFSJ
DEL 312 prepared by University of Leeds WP6
e-Borders, Citizens and Security in Europe 12 February 2009 Newcastle, UK.
Registration and Buffet Lunch
Keynote Speech , Caroline Flint MP, Minister for Europe
Citizens and Security in Europe: Innovative Partnerships for Regional Results
1400 The NE Fraud Forum : shaping regional, national and European agendas Alan Brown, chair, National Fraud Forums1435 Combatting Internet crime
Phil Butler, Northumbria Police
1500 Consular Protection and Collaboration
Josephine Chexal, German Consul, NE England1515 e-Borders: Bringing security closer to citizens – the added value of research
Juliet Lodge, Challenge programme, University of Leeds1545 Concluding remarks1600 End
The FOCUS GROUP will convene at 13.30
The seminar focused on what the stakeholder and end-user communities facing the management of territorial and e-borders could learn from relevant research in order to combat cross-border criminal activity and fraud.
This seminar complemented one conducted in 2008 in Newcastle and was designed to provide a forum for discussing how EU initiatives on security could be brought closer to citizens, made more relevant and tangible while simultaneously respecting the ideals and values of accountable, transparent governance of the broad, and somewhat inchoate field, of ‘security’.
This seminar was the second of a one dedicated to the particular lessons for the northeast seaboard of England with its major ports, and particular problems regarding illegal trafficking in persons, fraud and counterfeit traffic for commerce on the internet, identity management, and the challenges of implementing new requirements regarding EU travel documents.
The emphasis was on discussing real-world scenarios, empirical evidence and the advantages and added-value that policy implementers, closest to the citizen, could learn from relevant research, especially the work conducted under the Challenge programme.
In addition, a Leeds Challenge researcher, conducted a Focus Group with citizens to ascertain how citizens view and interpret many of the concepts, issues and ideas around ‘security’. This complemented Focus Group reports from other cohorts.
The seminar revealed an information deficit and the need to build up awareness among practitioners of the scope of relevant research. It was also clear that a different approach, to that common among high level stakeholders, officials and academics, was imperative.
A number of participants have asked for further information and updating via Leeds, as part of a north eastern seaboard approach to drawing on research conducted relatively locally – close as possible to the citizen.
Many barriers remain to getting research findings across to those responsible for implementing EU and national policy. The importance of the local dimension was emphasised and the need to use research to bring security closer to citizens was discussed with the Minister’s questions.
Resources remain critical. Practitioners and stakeholders stressed resource implications and gaps: time to participate in seminars such as these, time to research, and time to be able to discuss the research with the researchers, learn from it and then learn about the relevance to the framing of local implementation were seen as major constraints. In addition, the keen interest in learning from the research and finding funding opportunities to deepen knowledge and to allow the research to inform and be applied, where appropriate, to policy implementation was stressed.
The relevance of the EU dimension, which policy elites stress, was not well-known among the participants. Interest in it was high, tempered by caution over time to discover and learn from and about it, and a lack of awareness about the diversity and relevance of EU institutions and agencies (the EDPS, Frontex), and recent important initiatives regarding security. Information provided by Leeds was particularly welcomed by practitioners.
Speech by Minister for Europe, Caroline Flint MP (full text) ‘Citizens and security in Europe: innovative partnerships for regional results’ ‘Many of you have first hand understanding of the global nature of some of the challenges we face today. You’ll have personal stories to tell from your day to day work about the threats posed by international crime and corruption.
These crimes represent a very different world to the one our parents grew up in.
The world has become smaller and that’s brought many benefits: - the ease of international travel and the communications revolution gives us a wider global perspective; - the growth of internet companies and the freer movement of goods and services has been good for business; - as consumers we have far greater choice and better value for money on the high street; - and, despite the inevitable tensions that come with the mass movement of people, our communities are richer for their cultural diversity.
But these changes have brought challenges too, not least the interdependence of the global economy.
Competition for foreign investment has never been higher. Prosperity depends more than ever on a well functioning, transparent business environment and a well skilled workforce.
Added to that, we’ve seen the growth of sophisticated international networks of organised criminals that threaten our way of life, the integrity of our businesses and the life and livelihoods of their human victims.
In response to these new threats and to ensure that Britain remains competitive in the globalised economy, Europe matters more than ever.
That’s why it’s even more important for the UK to keep its place at the heart of Europe; and why it’s even more important for Europe to build effective partnerships with the rest of the world.
Here in the North East, you understand that sustainable solutions depend on engagement. With projects like Hadrian and the formation of the North East Fraud Forum, you’re taking full advantage of regional coordination to tackle fraud, financial crime and cybercrime.
At a European level, we can add significant value to UK efforts to combat crime and wider threats to our security by engaging with our European partners.
Engagement with Europe has brought huge benefits to the UK, in terms of economic growth and peace and security.
Locally, here in the North East, nearly 1,500 projects to boost the local economy and regenerate local communities received EU funding between 2000 and 2006. 7,000 new jobs were created and more than 2,500 jobs safeguarded as a result. 1,900 new SMEs were given direct financial support.
Between now and 2013, more than £250 million of European Regional Development funding has been allocated to the North East. These funds will be of huge benefit to the local business community and will help people keep their jobs, or get back into work. Many new jobs will be created in disadvantaged areas.
And internationally, working with our EU partners makes us far more influential than if we acted alone, which gives us the best chance of securing the right outcome on big global issues.
Right now, the top priority for the EU, as at home, is responding to the economic downturn, the scale of which has demanded coordinated action.
That’s what the EU has taken - swiftly and decisively.
With an unprecedented level of coordination, European leaders have agreed a package of measures to boost spending and accelerate reforms to ease the impact of the economic crisis, and help prepare for the recovery when it comes.
This concerted action is crucial to boosting business and consumer confidence. At a time of extreme uncertainty in global markets, UK businesses operating across Europe need a consistent message about what to expect from governments.
Alongside this, there’s plenty of work ongoing at a European level to make our communities safer. This includes work to tackle fraud and corruption as well as closely linked cross border crimes, carried out by networks of international criminals, including drugs and people traffickers and terrorists.
Last year, co-operation between Europol and EU Member states resulted in the arrest of 75 people suspected of being part of a network involved in smuggling illegal immigrants into and within the EU.
Very recently, in immediate response to a request from the Serious Fraud Office, Spanish Police are interviewing six suspects in Spain in connection with an alleged multimillion pound fraud involving bogus company assets filed on the London Stock Exchange.
This kind of cooperation between governments and agencies makes it easier to bring criminals to justice, to target criminals’ financing and assets and to disrupt routes used for drug and people trafficking. This makes us better able to protect our citizens and our business interests and sends a strong signal that in Europe criminals should not expect to act with impunity.
And while cooperation between European governments and agencies and the exchange of information is crucial, the exchange of know how adds value too.
This is a feature of many of the EU development projects with third countries - projects that aim to tackle issues before they become problems for communities here.
A number of UK police officers are currently seconded to EU missions overseas. These include a CID mentor from West Yorkshire and a training adviser from Northumbria, both working with the police reform mission to Afghanistan; and an Adviser to the Financial Investigations Unit from South Yorkshire working as part of the EU’s rule of law mission to Kosovo.
Other overseas projects include helping to modernise and strengthen border controls; providing training for police and customs officers; and working with foreign governments to tackle the root causes of extremism, trafficking and mass migration.
The focus of these development projects is on finding medium to long term solutions but they are already helping to keep people safe and saving the UK money.
Take migration: while it costs UK up to £30,000 to deal with a failed asylum seeker, work at EU level reduces the cost of processing and registering illegal immigrants before they reach the UK to around 10,000 euros, shared between the 27 member states.
The organisations here today prove the point that regional partnerships can achieve so much more than the sum of individual efforts. In the context of the European Union, I believe that businesses and communities are best served when governments are prepared to engage with one another to develop positive working relationships. The European Union isn’t perfect and has made mistakes. But against that are solid achievements in trade, business and jobs.
Peace and security which has extended human rights and democracy across our continents. Law enforcement agencies, working together to bring criminals to justice, and make our communities safer.
Governments have choices. We have chosen to engage positively and constructively within the EU whilst robustly making our case where we don’t always agree. And after 12 years, Britain has more friends and allies in the EU than we inherited in 1997.
Whatever your wider view of the European Union, the EU can help us achieve our goals. Nowhere is that more important than the added value our engagement with the EU brings to protecting the security of families and businesses in the North East and the rest of the UK.’
In discussion, it was noted that there was often ignorance about the existence of, rationale for and specific roles of EU agencies, like Europol, Eurojust, Frontex inter alia. The Minister for Europe was asked about potential overlaps in their briefs with other international forums, like Interpol. The possibility for research to feed into practical agendas was welcomed.
Closing this session, chairman Andrew Robinson of the French Commcerical Office noted the need to link up different research programmes to maximise the learning from each. He referred to the impact of the e-services directive on cross border commerce and pointed to the need to ensure compliance with its provisions on information sharing. The concept of information sharing in practice was regarded with suspicion on the one hand, but welcomed as the police and judicial authorities had stated, on the other, as a step to enhancing the extradition and prosecution of criminal suspects. Particular problems encountered in developing the appropriate ICT vehicles were noted
Introduced the subject of combating criminality and the links between domestic and international crime. He spoke about the growth in identity fraud, online fraud, and steps taken by local companies to combat it. The contribution of the European Arrest Warrant to overcoming the delays and problems associated with extradition proceedings was seen as a particular bonus of cross-border cooperation facilitated by the EU. How local agencies cooperate with their European counterparts was outlined, although it was felt that there were still too many barriers to normalising and mainstreaming such collaboration, beyond those associated with British linguistic weaknesses. The possibilities of secure information exchange were elaborated. The problems of combating fraud, trafficking of goods and persons and counterfeiting provoked a lively discussion. It was noted that cooperation among forces within the UK was not always as easy as might be assumed even though there were some examples of its added-value. The opportunity to learn from regional and European research was welcomed. He noted that whereas some academic researchers had developed a means of minimising unauthorised accessibility and malevolent intrusion, there was a particular problem in England in taking the research from the discovery to pilot phase.
This presentation opened with a short film that police and counter-crime services had developed for younger members of the public who routinely use social networking sites, e-commerce, and share personal information in chat rooms. The film was designed to shock and inform about the dangers posed by identity fraudsters, including those grooming children online. This was highlighted with reference to the successful tracking of a recent case in Lincoln through cooperation among European agencies. The desire to learn from EU research and to be informed in a timely manner about important initiatives was stressed. In discussion, this issue was raised and bilateral contacts were established among those wanting to access resources recommended by the University of Leeds Challenge researchers. It was felt that research often remained invisible to practitioners who could benefit from it : time being stressed as a major constraint, along with resources – primarily financial. In discussion, the relative effectiveness of Europol and Eurojust compared to Interpol and bilateral police cooperation was raised. The silo mentality of different agencies was seen as a barrier to effective expeditious action to combating crime.
Jo Chexal gave a detailed presentation of how consular work was effected in the region, and the problems that arose – primarily in respect of renewing passports and taking biometric data – as new rules were introduced. She explained the background to the often mundane problems encountered by consuls in sharing resources at the most basic of levels, from mutual recognition of the right to look after each other’s (and other EU states’ ) citizens, especially in times of emergency, to processing and translating documents required for civil purposes (examinations, divorce proceedings, identity verification, biometric enrolment of data etc). She noted that as a result of the requirements for new biometric ID cards and passports, the time taken from applying for such a document and receiving it had risen to several months : German people were on average waiting six weeks to have biometric fingerprints taken for passports and ID card renewals. The discriminatory effect of having to appear in person, often at distant places at great expense. It was interesting that these steps were seen as national government initiatives and not related to the EU. The acute processing delays arising in the London embassy resulting from the new rules were discussed, and clearly reaffirmed problems that had been identified at the earlier Challenge WP6 seminar on consular matters in London in May 2008, and Leeds in Oct 2008. The verticality of arrangements were noted. The work of the consular office and the potential for links to combat criminality were discussed. Jo Chexal finished by underlining how consular needs and cooperation had been informed by research and awareness of Leeds’ Challenge work on accountable governance for citizens and consular cooperation in Leeds. She highlighted the importance of individual foresight and vision, exemplified in the French and German ambassadors. She pointed out that it was noteworthy that owing to the dissemination of Leeds’ work for and research in Challenge, Juliet Lodge had been the only academic invited to the launch of this with all the member states’ ambassadors, UK FCO and french and german consuls in the UK. She also indicated that there was a need for ongoing information exchange, training and discussion opportunities to learn from research and to inform research.
The importance of research informed by EU policy was outlined. She took up many of the themes and explained the kind of research undertaken by universities under the Challenge programme that directly addressed information gaps, strategic and legal issues. She explained the role of EU agencies in border management, the steps that had been rolled out as part of the creation of a common consular code, explained the paradoxical objectives of transparency and openness in regard to public access to documents produced by public authorities for civil administrative purposes, and the insecurities arising from slack practices and weak security architectures. This was not simply a matter of trust in the ICTs and trust in the people but reflected a need to be critical in appraising the robustness both of procedures, laws, implementation procedures, local practice and the risks associated with disclosure of personal information. She provided illustrations of different codes from member states, contrasting different ways of conceptualising privacy and data protection, ownership, and the implications for citizen security.Juliet Lodge referred to a number of projects relevant to those in the broad ‘security’ field. She outlined Leeds work on biometric borders for Challenge, and discussed the particular problems of transparency and accountability arising from different traditions in different member states. Participants were particularly concerned about transparency and accountability, often critical of government and parliament but relatively unaware of the work done by the European Parliament (especially LIBE committee) to address many of the issues that they raised. Some time was spent elaborating the kind of reports and special hearings, including public hearings that were undertaken by LIBE (to which Challenge had made several presentations) and other EP committees (also addressed by Challenge) and by Scrutiny committees of national parliaments, such as the House of Lords (in which Juliet and Didier Bigo had participated in 2008). Attention was also paid to the technologies and implications of their use for bringing security closer to citizens, and in that context, to the work of the European Data Protection Supervisor’s Office. Again, participants wer relatively unaware of that office, its role, potential and outputs. The way in which Challenge and EU research outputs could help to inform both policy initiatives at the pre-decisional, parliamentary scrutiny, and implementation stages was outlined. The need for creating sustainable relationships between researchers and policy implementers to advance this was affirmed with the need for intelligible, visible and accessible findings made relevant to local ‘close to citizen’ stakeholders in particular being stressed.
An endemic information gap persists between research and practice. This is not simply a matter of ignorance but one of financial and time resources.
The relative invisibility and intelligibility of research needs to be addessed in order to ensure timely adaptation of research to practice to mutual benefit.
The underyling issues raised in discussion concerned anxiety over the ideal of maximising transparency and openness in regards to providing information on procedures and practices with the need to practise transparency and openness in a closed space underpinned by a secure ICT architecture.
There needs to be explicit requirements for externally operational transpoarency and accountability for them to be meaningful to citizens and practitioners.
National parliaments are seen as weak and ill-informed regarding the practical realities of bringing security close to citizens in ways that are not distorted by ‘Big Brother’ scenarios.
Stakeholders were interested in discovering what academic research in their area of work had to offer them in order to add value to their work and to inform them about supranational policy and strategies which did not always feed into the regional settings in a timely manner.
It was generally agreed that most practitioners, even at high strategic levels, received little information about EU policy. This observation was also made by those in public authorities concerned with border management and with facilitating cross border transactions.
We are pleased to acknowledge the support of the Challenge programme, the EU Commission Office London, and the European Parliament (London) and thank Watson Burton and the NE Fraud Forum for facilitating the meeting in Newcastle.
Focus Group report (attached)