• Ministers agreed steps to improve exchange of criminal records information between law enforcement authorities
  • Ministers identified priority actions to tackle criminal justice in cyberspace
  • Ministers discussed promotion and protection of fundamental rights
  • Minister Flanagan met with Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vĕra Jourovà to discuss national and EU level gender equality initiatives and justice matters
  • Minister Flanagan met with UK Home Office Minister for Immigration, Brandon Lewis MP

Today Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, T.D. met with his European Union counterparts in Luxembourg to agree ways to improve exchange of criminal records information between law enforcement authorities and to identify priority actions to enable law enforcement authorities to access electronic evidence and investigate online criminal activity. Ministers also agreed on ways to promote and protect fundamental rights and set strategic priorities for what is required to protect the Union’s area of freedom, security and justice for the next two years.

Contributing to the debate on enhancing the information included in the European Criminal Records Information System Minister Flanagan stated that “Improving the information we put on the new centralised system is key to unlocking its full potential to tackle criminality. We will eliminate potentially dangerous gaps in data which could enable criminals avoid law enforcement authorities.”

On criminal justice in cyberspace, Ministers discussed the recent Commission Communication on ‘Resilience, Deterrence and defence: Building strong cybersecurity for the EU’. In taking this crucial area of work forward the Minister noted the importance of bringing clarity to jurisdiction in cyberspace. He reaffirmed Ireland’s commitment to working with EU partners and Industry to find the solutions to protect individuals while ensuring that law enforcement authorities have the tools they need to prevent cybercrime. The Minister said “When it comes to jurisdiction in cyberspace and e-evidence it is clear that we need a common EU approach. Without this we risk unilateral measures and jurisdictional conflict. Criminals are not restricted by borders in cyberspace and law enforcement must not be unnecessarily hampered. There are compelling reasons to streamline access to electronic evidence to take account of modern realities. We need clear, simple rules for accessing electronic evidence that take account of the right to the protection of personal data but also of the need for law enforcement authorities to have fast and efficient access to that evidence which can by its very nature be moved and deleted quickly.”

Ministers were briefed by the Director of the Fundamental Rights Agency, Professor Michael O’Flaherty, on the protection and promotion of fundamental rights. Ministers agreed to ensure that fundamental rights are fully integrated into the preparation and assessment of all EU legislation and policies. Minister Flanagan recalled the values upon which the Union was founded and confirmed that “Ireland is fully committed to the measures proposed to make the Charter of Fundamental Rights a reality for our citizens through an integrated approach by all stakeholders at national and EU level. We acknowledge the importance of raising awareness on the application of the Charter at national as well as at EU level among policymakers, legal practitioners and the rights holders themselves.”

Minister Flanagan had a bilateral meeting with the Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vĕra Jourovà, to discuss a range of policy priorities including measures being taken at EU and at national level to tackle the gender pay gap. Minister Flanagan stated “The Irish Government has commenced a process to deliver on Programme for Government commitments to tackle the gender pay gap. I am very pleased that Commissioner Jourovà is working on an EU Action Plan to tackle the gender pay gap. I believe this work will compliment and support our initiatives in Ireland”

Minister Flanagan updated the Commissioner on the Government’s programme of work which the Commissioner welcomed in light of the upcoming Commission Action Plan addressing the Gender Pay Gap due to be published in November. The Minister and the Commissioner committed to working closely to address this important issue.

The Minister met bilaterally with the UK Home Office Minister for Immigration, Brandon Lewis MP to discuss ongoing cooperation between the two jurisdictions in the areas of crime and immigration. This followed a meeting with the UK Home Secretary, Justice Secretary and Northern Ireland Secretary in London yesterday.