The European Union and the United States are looking for “a return to normality” in transatlantic passenger travel and promised “to work intensely” towards this goal, the Portuguese Minister of Home Affairs has pledged.
“We shall work intensely, on the basis now of the European Union’s COVID Digital Certificate, to return to normality in passenger traffic between the two sides of the Atlantic and open up this travel to nonessential journeys”, Eduardo Cabrita stated after a meeting that brought together the EU and US office-bearers in charge of Justice and Home Affairs. The meeting was held at the headquarters of the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU in Lisbon.
The Minister underscored that the level of COVID-19 vaccination achieved in the two blocs –Europe and North America – reflects “a route of progress” and allows us to envisage “a time of hope”.
In a press conference, alongside the US Secretary of Homeland Security, Eduardo Cabrito also stressed “the great importance to Europe of the highly active and constructive way in which the new North American Administration is present in this new time of dialogue between the EU and the US”.
Combatting the spread of illegal content on the internet
On the topic of justice, the participants at the meeting discussed different viewpoints regarding the responsibility of online platforms in the spread of illegal content on the internet, e.g., hate speech, the defence of terrorism, or the exchange of data related to the sexual abuse of minors.
The Portuguese Minister of Justice stated that “it is important to go beyond a voluntary system between online platforms and states, where the surveillance, detection and possible notification to the authorities of illegal content is concerned”. For Francisca Van Dunem, the European Union should “set its sights on a different level of responsibility from these platforms”; moreover, this is a subject with “room for progress” between Brussels and Washington.
The US Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, alerted those present to the need to increase joint efforts in the area of cyber-attacks: these have worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly ransomware attacks, in which an institution is blocked by hackers demanding payment before access is re-established.
Alejandro Mayorkas admitted that this practice “has already threatened the US and represents a threat for many other countries, that is, the vulnerabilities of one mean that they all share these vulnerabilities” . He was speaking during the press conference that concluded the meeting, in which the Vice-President of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas, and the Commissioners for Justice and Home Affairs, Didier Reynders and Ylva Johansson, respectively, also took part.