Tag Archives: Public security

Radio Frequency Identification in Europe: steps towards a policy framework

Radio Frequency Identification in Europe: steps towards a policy framework

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Radio Frequency Identification in Europe: steps towards a policy framework

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These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Information society > Radiofrequencies

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) in Europe: steps towards a policy framework

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 15 March 2007 – “Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) in Europe: steps towards a policy framework” [COM(2007) 96 – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

RFID is a method for exchanging information between a marker (radio tag) *, which can be incorporated into any object, and a reader, a wireless device that identifies the information using radiofrequencies. The technology is more powerful when the reader is linked to communication networks such as the internet, which makes the information available over the world-wide web.

The widespread deployment of RFID technology is an important stage in the development of many sectors, including transport, health and retail trade. Its applications range from the traceability of food, to automated payments, and the mobility and observation of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. It can therefore have a significant contribution to improving the lives of citizens.

However, the technology also raises concerns about the protection of privacy, health and the environment.

From a technical and commercial point of view, RFID is ready for mass deployment. However, there are some outstanding issues relating to the legal and policy framework for the technology.

Confidentiality and Security

RFID technology raises confidentiality issues and security concerns as it can be used to gather and distribute personal data. As a result, it is difficult to achieve wide public acceptance of the technology, as the public wants to see measures taken to protect its rights. For this reason, the social, political, ethical and legal implications of the deployment of RFID should be taken into account.

Under the current legislation, the national public authorities are responsible for ensuring the application of national legislation as regards data processing procedures, including for RFID applications. As regards the security of the RFID system, the Member States, the Commission and businesses should take concerted action concerning technical and organisational aspects and business procedures. To this end, the Commission encourages the consolidation of good practice and the drawing up of design criteria for RFID technology so risks are restricted from the start.

Reducing the threat to security and privacy requires permanent scrutiny of all implications of RFID. To that end, an approach that focuses on each individual RFID application may prove more effective than a more general approach, because each application has its own risks and advantages.

Awareness and information campaigns can play a key role here. The Commission’s public consultation indicated that the general public is often poorly informed about the possibilities and challenges of RFID technology.

The European Union has put in place a vast array of legal instruments to protect personal data. The importance of protecting personal data is recognised in the EC Treaty (Article 16) and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights (Article 8). Moreover, the European legislative framework in this field is defined by the general Data Protection Directive and the ePrivacy Directive. These Directives guarantee the protection of personal data, while taking account of innovations in data processing procedures.

Database management

Data storage and access also constitute problems for the drawing up of policy on the deployment of RFID. Given this new phase in the development of the internet, account should be taken of possible breakdowns in or accidental damage to the technology, as well as of individuals who might seek to exploit the technology for their own ends. The World Summit on the Information Society provides a framework for the emerging policy debate on this subject.

Radio spectrum*

The availability of radio frequencies and the harmonisation of conditions for their use are key issues in the functioning of RFID applications in Europe. The Commission’s streamlining of the use of the radio spectrum within the EU has since 2002 provided a new basis for the deployment of RFID technology.

Standards

The standards governing RFID must facilitate the harmonious distribution of services, while taking account of the rapid development of the technology. Participants in the consultation have expressed the view that the Commission should play a more active role in promoting interoperability and the streamlining of international standards.

Environmental and health issues

Environmental concerns relate to the processing of waste and the use of dangerous substances. These issues are dealt with in the Community legislation on electrical and electronic equipment. As regards health concerns, even though the effects of exposing the population and workers to the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) * of RFIDs are thought to be low, they continue to cause a range of concerns. Moreover, the Community legal framework limits exposure to EMFs.

Background

The deployment of RFID solutions goes hand in hand with enhancing the role of information and communications technology (ICT) in developing the European economy. ICT must become one of the leading sectors of our economy.

Key terms used in the act
  • Electronic chip (or integrated circuit): electronic component whose size can now be reduced to that of a dot. Silicon is the basic raw material used to manufacture it.
  • ag (or marker): small object composed of a chip attached to an antenna. These two components are enclosed in a container that can be incorporated into some objects. The device sends information via radio waves that can be captured by an appropriate reader and potentially placed on the Internet.
  • Radio spectrum: the entirety of radio frequencies available for the transmission of information.
  • magnetic fields: area in which electromagnetic forces are exerted. The intensity of the field varies, as the forces intensify as they approach the antenna. Prolonged exposure to electromagnetic fields may have negative effects on human health. However, according to the World Health Organisation, the level of exposure to the radio frequencies from base stations and wireless networks is so low that there is no reason to be concerned about its effect on human health.

Integration of biometric features in passports and travel documents

Integration of biometric features in passports and travel documents

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Integration of biometric features in passports and travel documents

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Free movement of persons asylum and immigration

Integration of biometric features in passports and travel documents

Document or Iniciative

Council Regulation (EC) No 2252/2004 of 13 December 2004 on standards for security features and biometrics in passports and travel documents issued by Member States [See amending act(s)].

Summary

In the view of the Council, the integration of biometrics in passports and travel documents will improve document security and prevent falsification of documents. The use of bogus or false identities could best be prevented through a more reliable check on the person who presents a document to establish that s/he is the person to whom the document had been issued. Therefore, under this regulation, biometric identifiers will be introduced by Member States with a view to harmonising national legislation.

Passports and travel documents will include a high-security storage medium for memorising computerised data that will have sufficient capacity to guarantee the integrity, authenticity and confidentiality of that data. The storage medium will contain a facial image and two fingerprints taken flat. These data, which will be in interoperable formats, will be secured.

Passports and travel documents will have to be issued as individual documents in accordance with international requirements. However, as regards the requirements for taking fingerprints of children between six and twelve years of age, the Commission will conduct a study and possibly propose initiatives on the requirements for children before 26 June 2012.

Children under the age of 12 years (provisional age limit), and persons to whom it is physically impossible, will be exempt from fingerprinting. Only qualified and duly authorised staff of national authorities who are responsible for issuing passports and travel documents may take biometric identifiers.

In accordance with international standards, the Commission will establish additional technical specifications, such as:

  • additional security features, notably with a view to combating counterfeiting and falsification;
  • the storage medium and its security;
  • common quality requirements for the facial image and the fingerprints.

Where appropriate, these additional specifications will not be published and will be made available only to the bodies responsible for printing and to persons duly authorised by a Member State or the Commission.

The biometric features in passports and travel documents will be used only for verifying the authenticity of the document and the identity of the holder, who will have the right to verify the personal data contained in the passport or travel document and, where appropriate, to ask for rectification or erasure. The collection and storage of biometric data will be exclusively for the purpose of issuing passports and travel documents.

Each Member State will designate one body for printing passports and travel documents. The Commission and the other Member States will be informed of the name of that body. Member States may at any time decide to confer that task on another body.

Under the provisions of the Schengen acquis, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Ireland do not take part in this regulation and so are not bound by it. Denmark, however, may decide within a period of six months after the Council has adopted this regulation whether it will implement it in its national law. Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, although not part of the EU, will be involved in implementing the regulation.

The regulation will enter into force in the Member States:

  • as regards the facial image: at the latest 18 months after adoption of the additional technical specifications;
  • as regards fingerprints: at the latest 36 months after adoption of the additional technical specifications.

However, the implementation of the regulation will in no way affect the validity of passports and travel documents already issued. Moreover, this regulation concerns only passports and travel documents. It does not apply to identity cards and temporary documents with a validity of 12 months or less under any circumstances.

Background

On 17 October 2000, the Council adopted a resolution introducing minimum security standards for passports. It now takes the view that this resolution should be upgraded in order to provide enhanced protection for passports and travel documents against falsification.

The Thessaloniki European Council on 19 and 20 June 2003 confirmed the need to take common measures on biometric identifiers and data for documents for third-country nationals, European Union citizens’ passports and information systems.

In addition, the introduction of biometrics in passports and travel documents reflects the need for Member States participating in the United States Visa Waiver Program to align themselves with the relevant US legislation, so that their nationals may enter US territory without a visa.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 2252/2004

18.1.2005

OJ L 385 of 29.12.2004

Amending act(s)
Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 444/2009

26.6.2009

OJ L 142 of 6.6.2009

Related Acts

Commission Decision of 28 June 2006 laying down the technical specifications on the standards for security features and biometrics in passports and travel documents issued by Member States [C(2006) 2909 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

This decision supplements Regulation (EC) 2252/2004 by providing technical specifications relating to storage and protection of fingerprints to be integrated into passports and travel documents issued by Member States. It contains an annex addressing the following points:

  • primary biometric – face;
  • secondary biometric – fingerprints;
  • storage media;
  • electronic passport chip layout;
  • data security and integrity issues;
  • conformity assessment.

Exchange of information to combat counterfeit travel documents

Exchange of information to combat counterfeit travel documents

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Exchange of information to combat counterfeit travel documents

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Fight against terrorism

Exchange of information to combat counterfeit travel documents

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision of 27 March 2000 on the improved exchange of information to combat counterfeit travel documents [Official Journal L 81 of 01.04.2000]

Summary

The decision makes provision for the use of a reporting system for detecting counterfeit travel documents. This system should make it easier to:

  • Detect counterfeit travel documents on inspection;
  • Search for stolen travel documents.

The central unit of each Member State will without delay exchange information on counterfeit and stolen travel documents with the central unit of each other Member State by using the standard form attached to the Council decision.
It will also notify the General Secretariat of the Council.

The exchange of information will not include personal details.

A questionnaire attached to the Council decision (Annex II) will be used for the purposes of the uniform collection of information which may be required for subsequent criminal proceedings relating to counterfeit travel documents. Data will be communicated in accordance with national law and international conventions.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision of 27 March, 2000 01.07.2000 Official Journal L 81 of 01.04.2000

Detecting forged documents

Detecting forged documents

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Detecting forged documents

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Fight against terrorism

Detecting forged documents

To ensure uniform levels of skills and equipment for the detection of false documents at points of entry into the European Union.

2) Union Measures

Council Recommendation 98/C 189/02 of 28 May 1998 on the provision of forgery detection equipment at ports of entry to the European Union.

Council Recommendation 99/C 140/01 of 29 April 1999 on the provision for the detection of false or falsified documents in the visa departments of representations abroad and in the offices of domestic authorities dealing with the issue or extension of visas.

3) Contents

The first Recommendation concerns the steps to be taken by Member State governments to ensure uniform levels of equipment at points of entry.

The factors determining the equipment at points of entry are:

  • the volume of passenger traffic;
  • current levels of abuse;
  • the availability of reference material;
  • the presence of border control officers and the standard of training provided.

This Recommendation cites three levels of provision (minimum, intermediate and upper) based on the qualifications of staff, the quality of the equipment required and the reference documents available.

The second Recommendation concerns the equipment of visa departments to detect false or falsified documents. Depending on the number of visa applications and the scale of the problems encountered, the Council recommends, resources permitting, that the Member States use certain technologies, train staff and increase staffing.

Cooperation could be established between consulates to share equipment where possible and train staff from more than one Member State at the same time.

Annexed to the Recommendation is a list of the provision in human and material resources recommended by the Council in the light of the situation (low, intermediate or high risk of falsification and counterfeiting).

4) Deadline For Implementation Of The Legislation In The Member States

Not applicable

5) Date Of Entry Into Force (If Different From The Previous Date)

Not applicable

6) References

Official Journal C 189 of 17.06.1998
Official Journal C 140 of 20.05.1999

7) Follow-Up Work

8) Implementing Measures

Exchange of information between the law enforcement authorities of the Member States

Exchange of information between the law enforcement authorities of the Member States

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Exchange of information between the law enforcement authorities of the Member States

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Police and customs cooperation

Exchange of information between the law enforcement authorities of the Member States

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 16 June 2004: Towards enhancing access to information by law enforcement agencies [COM(2004) 429 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

In this communication, the Commission proposes an approach aimed at improving free circulation of information between the law enforcement authorities of the Member States and the authority in charge of crime prevention. These authorities include the police forces, customs authorities, financial intelligence units, the judicial authorities and all the public bodies involved in the detection of security threats, conviction and punishment. The Commission’s proposals come in the wake of the declaration on combating terrorism of the European Council of 25 March 2004 and encompass legal, technical and organisational measures for combating terrorist threats and organised crime.

The Commission points out that there are two main obstacles to this free circulation of information. The first is that the information tends to be compartmentalised at both organisational and legal levels. For example, it is divided between different ministries and services and is intended for use in different procedures, thereby affecting the nature and sensitivity of the information that can be handled by the services. The second obstacle is the lack of a clear policy on information channels, resulting in disagreement on the choice of channel and on how to handle sensitive and confidential information.

The three main objectives proposed by the Commission are therefore the following:

  • to take stock and analyse the conditions needed to improve access to, and the use and exchange of, relevant information on law enforcement and crime prevention;
  • to introduce an EU intelligence-led police and judicial policy;
  • to maintain a strict balance between effective respect for citizens’ rights and an increase in state powers of obtaining and using information in order to ensure that the security level demanded by these citizens is maintained by democratic processes.

In order to achieve these objectives, the Commission points out that the policy on exchange of information between the law enforcement agencies must take into account several factors. Firstly, there must be common and concerted action by the national, European and international agencies. As well as security, respect for individual rights, human rights and fundamental freedoms must be ensured. Compatible information exchange systems protected against unlawful access are also needed, as are common standards for information storage, analysis and exchange between the relevant services.

The Commission calls on the Member States to implement an information policy aimed at:

  • making accessible necessary and relevant data for the law enforcement authorities and those responsible for preventing crime and terrorism;
  • promoting the production and use of EU criminal intelligence that is of high-quality in both strategic and operational terms;
  • building trust between the relevant services, in particular through personal data protection.

Access to data and information

The main aim of the information policy is to make the information needed for combating terrorism and organised crime accessible to all the EU law enforcement authorities who need this information in order to carry out their statutory tasks. To this end, the Commission proposes launching initiatives associated with conditions for access to information and with data collection and exchange.

The main obstacles to data sharing identified by the Commission are created by the lack of:

  • common standards for data processing and access;
  • compatible crime definitions and statistics;
  • culture of cooperation between the relevant authorities and between public- and private-sector players;
  • awareness of data protection rules.

The Commission proposes laying down transparent and straightforward conditions for access to data. Member States will be responsible for the implementation of these conditions. The Commission intends to launch studies on:

  • needs and restrictions in this area;
  • conditions of access;
  • data protection and security procedures.

The information policy introduces the principle of right of equivalent access to data. Once established, this principle would allow mutual exchange of data between the authorities and agencies in the Member States based on the standards and conditions applicable in the Member State in which the data are to be accessed.

This principle of equivalent access is underpinned by the following basic considerations:

  • the security of the Union and its citizens is a joint responsibility;
  • Member States depend on each other to enforce laws in order to combat terrorism and organised crime;
  • the law enforcement authorities in the various Member States fulfil similar tasks;
  • the law enforcement authorities act lawfully when accessing data.

In order to develop further the principle of equivalent access, the Commission proposes introducing minimum standards for the collection of data. It also plans to create a network of databases or a central database.

Lastly, the Commission wishes to promote research on security co-financed by the AGIS programme. In addition, a preparatory security research action for 2004-06 is aimed at launching a comprehensive European security research programme from 2007.

Enforcement of EU intelligence-led law

The second objective of the information policy is to establish measures aimed at developing intelligence-led law enforcement in the EU. The police and judicial authorities are to be encouraged to enhance cooperation through intelligence-led actions. The Commission intends to make the necessary information available to a criminal intelligence network and to format this information so that it can be used throughout the EU. The aim is to improve the security of the EU and its citizens while respecting individuals’ fundamental rights and the rule of law.

The Commission envisages a two-phased approach. In the first phase, it proposes that the Member States’ criminal intelligence services should meet on a monthly basis, under the aegis of Europol, to exchange intelligence and discuss their strategic assessments. In the second phase, these services could produce criminal intelligence using standardised analytical tools.

To this end, the Commission would like to involve Europol more closely and increase its importance. It also plans to call on the Chiefs of Police Task Force (CPTF) to set up a common curriculum for training intelligence officials of the European Police College (CEPOL).

Building of trust

The third objective of the information policy is to contribute to the building of trust between the authorities, officials and partners responsible for law enforcement in Europe by establishing a joint platform of shared values, standards and policies. Another aim of the information policy is to develop working relations between the Member States. The Commission plans to present more proposals in this area by the end of 2005.

Related Acts

Draft Framework Decision of 28 April 2004 on the retention of data processed and stored in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications services or data on public communications networks for the purpose of prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution of crime and criminal offences, including terrorism [JAI(2004) 8 – Not published in the Official Journal].
This draft framework decision is an initiative of France, Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom. It proposes retaining data processed or transmitted on public communications networks in order to prevent, detect and prosecute crimes and criminal offences, including organised crime and terrorism.

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 16 December 2003: Transfer of Air Passenger Name Record (PNR) Data: A Global EU Approach [COM(2003) 826 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

This communication proposes better standards of protection for personal data transferred from the EU in the context of reinforced aviation and border security as part of the fight against terrorism.

Directive 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector (Directive on privacy and electronic communications) [Official Journal L 201 of 31 July 2002].

European critical infrastructures

European critical infrastructures

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European critical infrastructures

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Fight against terrorism

European critical infrastructures

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 2008/114/EC of 8 December 2008 on the identification and designation of European critical infrastructures and the assessment of the need to improve their protection.

Summary

This directive sets up a procedure for identifying and designating European critical infrastructures (ECIs) *. At the same time, it provides a common approach for assessing these infrastructures, with a view to improving them to better protect the needs of citizens.

Member States must go through a process of identifying potential ECIs, with the help of the Commission if required. Member States should make use of a series of criteria to identify these potential ECIs. The cross-cutting criteria take into account possible casualties and economic and public effects, while the sectoral criteria consider the specificities of each ECI sector. This directive currently concerns only the energy and transport sectors and their subsectors as identified in Annex I. Additional sectors might be added with the review of the directive.

Each Member State should go through a cooperative designation process for potential ECIs located on its territory. This process involves discussions with other Member States, which could be significantly affected in case of the loss of service provided by an infrastructure. In order for an infrastructure to be formally designated as an ECI, the Member State on whose territory it is located must give its assent.

The identification and designation of ECIs by Member States must be completed before 12 January 2011, after which they are to be reviewed regularly.

The Member State on whose territory an ECI is located must inform the Commission annually of the number of potential and designated ECIs for each sector.

Member States must ensure that an operator security plan (OSP) or an equivalent measure is in place for each designated ECI. The purpose of the OSP process is to identify the critical assets of the ECI as well as the existing security solutions for protecting them. The minimum content to be covered is defined in Annex II of the directive. The OSPs must be reviewed regularly.

Member States must also ensure that a security liaison officer or equivalent is designated for each ECI. The officer serves as the contact point between the owner/operator of the ECI and the Member State authority concerned. The purpose is to allow for the exchange of information regarding the risks and threats relating to the ECI.

Within a year from designating an ECI in the subsectors, Member States are to conduct an assessment of the threats relating to it. In addition, Member States are to report to the Commission every two years on the risks, threats and vulnerabilities the different ECI sectors are facing. The need for additional Community measures to protect ECIs will be assessed on the basis of these reports.

To support the owners/operators of ECIs, the Commission provides access to best practices and methodologies regarding the protection of critical infrastructure. Furthermore, it supports the related training activities and exchanges of new technical information.

Any sensitive information regarding the protection of ECIs may be treated only by persons having the appropriate level of security clearance and only for the purposes the information was originally intended.

A European critical infrastructure contact point (ECIP contact point) is to be appointed in each Member State. Their purpose is to coordinate any ECI-related issues among Member States and the Commission.

Background

On 12 December 2006, the Commission adopted the communication on a European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection (EPCIP), which sets out an overall framework for critical infrastructure protection activities at EU level. The process of identifying and designating ECIs is one of the key elements of EPCIP.

The Council conclusions of April 2007 reaffirmed Member States’ responsibility in managing the protection of critical infrastructures located on their respective territories. Simultaneously, the Council welcomed the Commission’s efforts in developing a European procedure to identify and designate ECIs and in assessing them with a view to improving their protection.

Key terms used in the act

  • Critical infrastructure: an asset, system or part thereof located in Member States that is essential for the maintenance of vital societal functions, health, safety, security, economic or social well-being of people, and the disruption or destruction of which would have a significant impact on a Member State as a result of the failure to maintain those functions.
  • European critical infrastructure (ECI): critical infrastructure in Member States, the disruption or destruction of which would have a significant impact on at least two Member States.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2008/114/EC

12.1.2009

12.1.2011

OJ L 345 of 23.12.2008

Diplomatic and consular protection

Diplomatic and consular protection

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Diplomatic and consular protection

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Justice freedom and security > Citizenship of the Union

Diplomatic and consular protection

Document or Iniciative

Decision of the representatives of the governments of the Member States meeting within the Council of 19 December 1995 regarding protection for citizens of the European Union by diplomatic and consular representations.

Summary

Every citizen of the European Union located in the territory of a third country is entitled to consular and diplomatic protection in line with Article 20 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (the EC Treaty). The preamble to Decision 95/553/EC of 19 December 1995 recalls that the decision was adopted with a view to implementing the obligation set out in Article 20 of the EC Treaty (ex Article 8c).

The conditions for entitlement to diplomatic and consular protection are as follows:

  • the absence in the third country in which the citizen requesting protection is located of an accessible permanent representation (embassy, general consulate or consulate) of the citizen’s own Member State;
  • the absence of an accessible Honorary Consul competent for such matters of his or her own Member State or another State representing it on a permanent basis;
  • production by the citizen requesting protection of proof of his or her nationality (passport, identity card or other document) for the diplomatic or consular representation approached.

The diplomatic or consular representation giving protection must treat the person seeking help as if he or she were a national of the Member State which it represents.

Assistance in the event of difficulties: mandatory protection

The protection must cover:

  • assistance in the event of death;
  • assistance in the event of serious accident or serious illness;
  • assistance in the event of arrest or detention;
  • assistance to victims of violent crime;
  • the relief and repatriation of distressed citizens of the Union.

This list is not exhaustive as EU citizens may find themselves in difficulties in any number of situations in countries that are not members of the EU. In so far as it is within their powers, Member States’ diplomatic representations or consular agents may therefore assist citizens in other cases if they are requested to do so.

Authorised protection: financial assistance

Other than in cases of extreme urgency, no financial advance or assistance may be given or expenditure incurred on behalf of a citizen of the Union without the permission of the competent authorities of the Member State of which that citizen is a national, such permission being given either by the Foreign Ministry or by the nearest diplomatic mission.

Unless the authorities of the Member State of the applicant’s nationality expressly waive this requirement, the applicant undertakes to repay the full value of any financial advance or help and expenditure incurred plus, where applicable, a consular fee notified by the competent authorities. This requirement may be waived by the authorities of the applicant’s Member State.

The undertaking to repay takes the form of a document requiring the distressed national to repay to the Government of the Member State of which he is a national any costs incurred on his behalf or money paid to him.

The Government of the Member State of which the applicant is a national must reimburse all costs, on request, to the Government of the assisting Member State.

The Decision, published in 1995 in the Official Journal, entered into force on 3 May 2002 after a long process of ratification by the 15 Member States. It is to be reviewed five years after its entry into force, i.e. in 2007.

Guaranteeing protection for Community citizens

The protection of EU citizens by the embassies and consulates of the Member States has its basis in Article 20 of the EC Treaty. It is a fundamental right for all EU citizens in countries outside the Union where their own country has no representation (embassy or consulate).

Under public international law, an embassy or consulate of a State protects the citizens of that State. The added value of Article 20 of the EC Treaty compared to public international law is that, as a Union citizen, a citizen of any Member State may enjoy the diplomatic and consular protection of any other EU Member State as provided for under Article 20.

In the event of infringement of Community law by a Member State, citizens may register a complaint with the Secretariat General of the European Commission.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 95/553/EC 03.05.2002 OJ L 314 of 28.12.1995

Related Acts

European Commission Green Paper of 28 November 2006 on diplomatic and consular protection of Union citizens in third countries [COM(2006) 712 final – Official Journal C 30 of 10.2.2007].

In 2006 the European Commission launched public consultations by publishing a Green Paper on diplomatic and consular protection of Union citizens in third countries [PDF ]. The closing date for contributions is 31 March 2007. Replies should be sent to the e-mail address indicated in the final paragraph of the Green Paper.