Cyprus voted against the Europol, Turkey data exchange council negotiation mandate

Cyprus has voted against a Commission proposal to negotiate a deal with Turkey on the exchange of personal data in the context of law enforcement (Europol), according to Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou.

In particular, according to a written statement issued by the Minister for Justice, from Luxembourg where he is attending the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting, the minister “has again voiced his strong opposition and serious reservations about this highly sensitive and important in a political point of view” and, as stated, has submitted “a declaration by the Republic of Cyprus for inclusion in the minutes of the Council, recording our negative vote.”

It is noted that this proposal was finally adopted by the Council as “A item”, ie without discussion.

The proposal concerns the opening of negotiations for the conclusion of an Agreement between the European Union and Turkey on the exchange of personal data between the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) and the Turkish authorities responsible for the fight against serious crime and terrorism. This proposal was tabled by the European Commission.

It is also noted that this issue was adopted by a qualified majority also by COREPER (Council of Permanent Representatives of the EU Member States) on the 29th of May 2018, where it was not possible to form a blocking minority.

“Cyprus has repeatedly expressed its strong opposition to the adoption of this proposal from the date of its submission l and during the discussions held at all levels, including the last meeting of the Permanent Representatives Committee” said the Minister of Justice.

The Minister pointed out that “since the start of discussions on the European Commissions proposal, the Republic of Cyprus has highlighted Turkeys refusal to implement its important horizontal obligations and to cooperate with the Republic of Cyprus throughout the JHA sector.”

He also reminded his counterparts that “we repeatedly supported separating Turkeys case from the rest of the package, stressing that the case of Turkey is different from the rest of the countries since it is a candidate country which lags substantially from the European standards in the field protection of personal data, fundamental human rights and the rule of law “.

Minister Nicolaou stresses that “as this is the first step in a process that is expected to be time consuming and difficult, the mandate that the Council gives to the Commission does not prejudge the final outcome of the negotiations at all.”

“We expect the Commission, within the terms of its mandate, to keep the Council regularly informed of developments and to accept any additional instructions.”

In conclusion, the Minister of Justice emphasizes that the Republic of Cyprus “will continue to closely monitor the issue and take action to safeguard our national interests.” “In this context, as we have demanded yesterday both clearly from both the Presidency and the Commission, we expect them to continue to raise the question of Turkeys co-operation with all the Member States without discrimination,” concluded minister Nicolaou.

Source: Cyprus News Agency