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Katarzyna Lasinska is a policy advisor in the Public Policy practice. Ms. Lasinska advises clients on EU public policy strategy and regulatory law with a particular focus on media, internet, and technology.

Ms. Lasinska was previously legal research assistant to Amal Clooney of Doughty Street Chambers, whom she assisted on complex matters of international law and human rights. Prior to this, she worked at the European Union Intellectual Property Office and the International Criminal Court.

On 22 September 2021, the UK Government published its 10-year strategy on artificial intelligence (“AI”; the “UK AI Strategy”).

The UK AI Strategy has three main pillars: (1) investing and planning for the long-term requirements of the UK’s AI ecosystem; (2) supporting the transition to an AI-enabled economy across all sectors and regions

“Businesses that have better risk mitigation processes across their supply chains cause less harm to people… Good environmental, social, and governance practices pay off… We need to make sure that responsible business conduct and sustainable supply chains become the norm.”
EU Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, April 29, 2020

On April 29, 2020, in a webinar hosted by the European Parliament’s Responsible Business Conduct Working Group, EU Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders announced that the European Commission (the “Commission”) will move swiftly to introduce regulation on mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence for companies, with its legislative proposal to the European Parliament and Council expected in the first quarter of next year.

In this alert, we provide an overview of the comments and commitments made by Commissioner Reynders against the backdrop of the recently published Study on Due Diligence Requirements Through the Supply Chain (the “Study”), which considered possible EU-wide regulatory interventions relating to human rights and environmental due diligence, and which provides the impetus for the Commissioner’s announcement.

Consultations to inform the Commission’s legislative proposal are expected to start in the coming weeks, so we also set out some initial factors that commercial organizations operating in the European Union may want to consider as they seek to engage with this policy process.

  1. Background: the Study

Commissioner Reynders’s presentation centered around the findings of the Study, which was published in late February and conducted by an expert panel that included representatives of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Civic Consulting, a public policy consultancy.

The Study involved: (i) a detailed examination of existing regulations and proposals for supply chain due diligence requirements, as well as market practices; (ii) the development of four general options for regulatory interventions at the EU level; and (iii) an assessment of the potential impact of these four options, based also on stakeholders’ perceptions of the different regulatory interventions.

In high-level terms, the Study identified and evaluated the following four options:

Option 1—No EU level policy change: This option would not involve any harmonized EU level regulatory intervention. The Study indicates that this option would be likely to result in a “patchwork” of due diligence expectations across the EU, as there are pending proposals or campaigns for mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence laws in 13 European countries, of which 11 are EU Member States.
Continue Reading European Union Justice Commissioner Commits to Regulation on Corporate Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence

The European Commission estimates that the global market for the Internet of Things (“IoT”) will grow to 75.4 billion devices by 2023. It also estimates that the economic value of spectrum enabled services is at present worth €500 billion per year. This is expected to increase by 200% – up to €1 trillion a year

In light of increasing discussion about the public policy implications of encryption, opinions among EU Member States on how best to tackle the issue are split.  Certain Member States, such as the UK, have repeatedly called for uninhibited access by national authorities to encrypted messages for national security purposes.  Others recognize the legitimate security interests of users.

The EU has recognized the importance of this issue.  The European Commission has therefore published a series of Communications and legislative proposals addressing encryption and access to data during criminal investigations.

Technical Measures

The conclusions drawn from a public expert consultation launched by the Commission were presented in a Communication on October 18, 2017, which laid out a number of technical measures aimed at supporting the activities of Member States on encryption.

The technical measures proposed include the following:

  • Strengthening Europol’s technical capabilities, in particular its decryption capabilities;
  • Developing a “toolbox” of both legal and technical instruments aimed at obtaining information encrypted by criminals in a facilitated manner;
  • Establishing a network of centers of expertise;
  • Establishing an observatory for future developments;
  • Providing training for law enforcement and judicial authorities, supported by EUR 500,000 from the Internal Security Fund in 2018;
  • Leading structured dialogue and collaboration with industry and civil society, and with internet service providers in particular, to help develop appropriate solutions while maintaining strong encryption.

Legislative Proposals

On April 17, 2018, the European Commission published a Communication on the Fourteenth progress report towards an effective and genuine Security Union and two legislative proposals: a proposal for a Regulation on European Production and Preservation Orders for electronic evidence (“e-evidence”) in criminal matters and a proposal for a Directive laying down harmonized rules on the appointment of legal representatives when gathering evidence in criminal proceedings.  Both proposals intend to facilitate EU cross-border access to data by law enforcement authorities in criminal investigations.

Continue Reading Encryption Policy Issues in the EU

The third round of the Brexit negotiations, at the end of August, was not very productive. This was despite the British side’s publication of an impressive number of position papers over the course of the summer. These covered various technical questions but also the sensitive issue of the participation in the customs union and how to avoid reestablishing a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The documents were not well received by the EU side, not only because a number of them anticipated negotiations on the future relationship, but mainly because they brought no realistic solutions. Rather, they confirmed the EU’s view that there was no real leadership on Brexit in London and that the negotiators were constrained by an official position that had become unrealistic: that the UK could, with no harm, leave the customs union and the internal market as soon as by the end of the two years foreseen by Article 50 of the EU Treaty.

In view of the impasse, the EU therefore asked for a postponement of the fourth round of talks scheduled for the week of 18 September. The talks were indeed postponed for a week.

A Softening in the UK’s Position

In the interim, in an attempt to break the deadlock, Prime minister Theresa May, in a speech in Florence on September 22, presented a revised UK position aimed at relaunching the negotiations on a better footing.

The most important novelty in the Prime Minister’s “Florence speech” related to the transition period, aimed at bridging the gap between the UK withdrawal in March 2019 and the beginning of a new trade relationship. Theresa May suggested in her speech that this period should last “around two years,” in order for the UK and the EU to be able to “implement smoothly” the new arrangements concluded. Importantly, she accepted that, during that period, market access “should continue on current terms” and that the framework would be “the current structure of EU rules and regulations”. This means that, contrary to the UK’s former position, during that period it would remain in the EU internal market and customs union, and would respect the principle of free movement of people as well as the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the EU (“CJEU”).

A few days after the Florence speech, on 26 September, the president of the European Council Donald Tusk travelled to London to discuss the way ahead. After his talks, he said that he felt “cautiously optimistic about the constructive and more realistic tone of the prime minister’s speech in Florence and of our discussion”, adding that the speech indicated that “this philosophy of having a cake and eating it is finally coming to an end”.

Nevertheless, the fourth round of negotiations, held in the last week of September, saw little concrete progress on the “separation” issues currently under discussion – citizens’ rights, the Irish Border, and the UK’s financial settlement (the “exit bill”).

All attention then turned to the Conservative Party Conference, which took place in London on October 1 to 4. Discussions at Conference in London confirmed that the Cabinet remains divided on Brexit. Notably, the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, in a newspaper column, expressed positions much harder than those outlined by the Prime Minister. However, amid speculation that he was about to mount a leadership challenge on the Prime Minister – an attempt that was seen as having failed – the Foreign Secretary rowed his comments back somewhat towards the Prime Minister’s softened line.

There was minimal progress during the fifth round of negotiations, which took place on October 9 to 12.

Changing Views on a “No Deal” Brexit

At the start of the negotiation process, the view in Brussels had been that there as a significant risk that the UK would “crash out” of the EU without a deal – either by choice, or simply because the negotiations would not succeed in the time available, and given the divergent positions either side of the English Channel. (For further analysis on this scenario, also known as the “cliff edge” scenario, see Sir Michael Leigh’s blog post, here.) This view was reinforced by the Prime Minister’s statement, in her Lancaster House speech of January 17, 2017, that “no deal is better than a bad deal” for the UK.

Continue Reading Brexit Negotiations in October: Softened Stances, but no “Sufficient Progress”

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