PROTECTION OF THE EURO AGAINST COUNTERFEITING
Initiative by the Government of the French Republic for a Draft Council Decision on the protection of the euro against counterfeiting
||Articles 31 and 34(2)(c) EU; consultation; unanimity
|Forwarded to the Council:
||22 December 2000|
|Deposited in Parliament:
||15 January 2001|
|Basis of consideration:
||EM of 22 February 2001
|Previous Committee Report:
||None; but see (21553)10847/00: HC 28-v (2000-01), paragraph 9 (7 February 2001)
|To be discussed in Council:
||No date set|
||Legally and politically important
||Not cleared; further information requested
7.1 In February, we cleared a First Pillar
Council Regulation on the protection of the euro against counterfeiting.
This draft Decision is a Third Pillar supporting measure, proposed
by the French Presidency, complementing the provisions of the
7.2 The draft Decision provides for suspect
notes and coins to be subject to expert analysis by the National
Analysis Centre (NAC) and the National Coin Analysis Centre (NCAC)
organisations which the Regulation required Member States
to establish or designate. It also provides for the results of
the analyses to be forwarded to Europol in cases where the investigations
relate to the forms of organised crime referred to in Article
2 (1) of the Europol Convention.
7.3 Article 4 of the proposal requires Member
States to communicate information on investigations into forgery
of the euro to Europol and to exchange such information with the
Provisional Judicial Cooperation Unit, and, once it is established,
with Eurojust. Europol and Eurojust are required to provide Member
States with the necessary technical assistance.
7.4 In Article 5, the proposal requires
Member States to recognise final sentences handed down in other
Member States (in relation to counterfeiting the euro, or, in
some circumstances, to counterfeiting generally) for the purpose
of establishing habitual criminality.
The Government's view
7.5 The Minister of State at the Home Office
(Mrs Barbara Roche) reaffirms the Government's commitment
to play a full part in the investigation and prevention of crime
in relation to the euro, although the UK has not introduced the
single currency. She tells us that the NAC already exists in the
UK, and the NCAC is being established.
7.6 The Minister emphasises that the proposal
does not create new powers for Europol. She continues:
"The involvement of
Europol and Eurojust is in keeping with the Government's multi-disciplinary
approach to law enforcement. However, with regard to Article 4,
the Government considers that there should be no obligation
for Member States' competent authorities to provide information
for Eurojust; rather, information should be provided on a voluntary
basis, where Member States believe coordination or cooperation
is required, in accordance with Eurojust's objectives. The negotiation
of this instrument should be coordinated with the current negotiations
on the legal instrument to establish Eurojust to ensure that complementary
outcomes are reached."
7.7 The Minister tells us that the Government
is considering whether changes to UK law would be required if
Member States were obliged to communicate information to Eurojust.
7.8 In relation to Article 5, the Minister
considers that the phrase 'habitual criminality' needs to be defined.
She tells us that, while the Government supports the principle
of taking foreign convictions into account for the purposes of
sentencing, a reliable EU-wide data-base of criminal records would
be needed for a fair and effective system. The Minister reminds
us that proposals on recognition of foreign convictions are included
in the programme of measures to implement the principle of mutual
recognition of decisions in criminal matters,
which was adopted at the Justice and Home Affairs Council in December.
She tells us that the Government is considering whether changes
to UK law would be required if Member States were obliged to recognise
final sentences handed down in another Member State. More generally,
the Government is considering whether Article 30 should be included
as part of the legal base of the proposal.
7.9 We consider that various aspects
of this proposal need further work or clarification before we
can feel confident in clearing it. In particular:
like the Minister, we are concerned
that negotiation of this proposal should keep in step with negotiations
over the establishment of Eurojust; and
we would not wish to see Article 5
agreed without a proper infrastructure in place, and without a
clear definition of 'habitual criminality'. In addition, in her
Explanatory Memorandum on the programme of measures to implement
the principle of mutual recognition of decisions in criminal matters,
the Minister said that the Government was considering the implications
of the European Convention on Human Rights for mutual recognition
of final decisions. It would be helpful to know the Government's
conclusions on this issue.
7.10 We ask to be kept informed of the
progress of negotiations, particularly on the points above. Meanwhile,
we do not clear the document.
25 (21783) 9737/00; see HC 23-xxx (1999-2000), paragraph
7 (22 November 2000). Back