Security a national competence, but member states should investigate illegal surveillance allegations, Commission says

Member states have competence when it comes to national security, but also when it comes to overseeing the actions of security services so they respect fundamental rights and freedom of expression, Commission spokesperson for justice related issues Christian Wigand told the Cyprus News Agency on Thursday.


Wigand underlined that the Commission expects national authorities to “thoroughly examine” accusations regarding illegal surveillance and the use of “illegal spyware” and added that issues regarding rule of law are addressed by the Commission through the national chapters of its annual rule of law report.


“What I can say and remind you of is that member states are competent to safeguard their national security and they must oversee and control their security services to ensure that they fully respect fundamental rights, including protection of personal data, the safety of journalists, and freedom of expression” Wigand said responding to a CNA question during the Commission’s midday press briefing in Brussels.


“So they must carry out any such activities also with full respect of relevant EU law including case law of the Court of Justice,” he added.


The spokesperson also noted that “the investigation of any concrete cases is of course the responsibility of each EU member state” and that for this reason “the Commission expects national authorities to thoroughly examine any such allegations and restore citizens’ trust”.


“Defending rule of law is a joint responsibility of all EU institutions and member states” he continued, pointing out that what the Commission does is that we address rule of law issues in a systemic manner “to ensure that independent investigations, independence of the judiciary, proper checks and balances et cetera are in place in our member states”, and that these are key elements of the Commission’s annual cycle of rule of law reports.


“On concrete cases and application of the relevant rules where any potentially illegal activity should take place, such as the use of illegal spyware to access the data of citizens, this is a responsibility of the national authorities,” Wigand noted.


Source: Cyprus News Agency