Letter from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary
of State at the Home Office (Angela Eagle) to the Chairman of
JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS COUNCIL 27-28 SEPTEMBER
I am writing to report the outcome of the Justice
and Home Affairs Council meeting on 27-28 September. I represented
the United Kingdom, together with the Home Secretary.
The Council adopted the 'A' items listed in document
12138/01 PTS A5O with the exception of item 1.
Combatting terrorism: follow up to the events
of 11 September
The Council held a further debate on the fight against
terrorism, which focussed on ensuring that the conclusions of
the Special JHA Council on 20 September and the JHA aspects of
the conclusions of the Special European Council on 21 September
are implemented without delay. The Presidency presented an "antiterrorism
roadmap" which sets an intensive programme of meetings and
deadlines to implement the agreed package, building on the 'Tampere
scoreboard' approach. I enclose the preliminary version of the
"roadmap" for your information available in French only
at this time. COREPER is working on a number of additions to the
The October, November and December Justice and Home
Affairs Council meetings will each be used to take forward aspects
of the package. The Home Secretary emphasised the importance,
which the United Kingdom attaches to meeting the agreed deadlines.
He also stressed the importance of humanitarian aid to displaced
Afghan people in the region. The Commission reported that the
Community's humanitarian aid to Afghanistan totalled 52.3 million
euros, and further aid to Iran and Pakistan (15 million euros)
and TACIS funds for the Central Asian Republics was under consideration.
In response to a request I made at the special JHA
Council on 20 September, the Director of Europol was invited to
update the Council on progress in implementing the agreed anti-terrorism
measures relating to Europol. He reported welcome progress in
a number of areas including the establishment of a 24-hour a day
Draft Council Decision setting up Eurojust: articles
The Council reached provisional agreement on articles
1 to 8 of the decision setting up Eurojust. These articles relate
to the composition, purpose and tasks of Eurojust. Provisional
agreement remains subject to consideration of the European Parliament's
opinion and to a number of Parliamentary Scrutiny Reservation's
including the United Kingdom's.
Draft Resolution on the contribution of civil
society in finding missing or sexually exploited children
The Council approved a non-binding resolution drawn
up by the Belgian Presidency on the role of civil society in finding
missing or sexually exploited children. The text envisages the
possibility of NGOs running telephone helplines and, where appropriate,
assisting law enforcement efforts. It also invites the Commission
to carry out a study in this area. I enclose the text of the resolution,
and a short note summarising its content.
Draft framework decision on combatting the sexual
exploitation of children and child pornography: definitions and
The Council discussed the following issues of principle
on the scope of offences under the framework decision:
(i) Should the definition of child pornography include
images of persons who may appear to be a child but are in reality
over the age of 18? A significant majority of Member States took
the view that it should.
(ii) Should the definition of child pornography include
realistic images where no real person is involved (virtual or
manipulated images)? Again, a significant majority believed it
(iii) Should coercing a child into prostitution or
pornographic performances always be punishable regardless of the
child's age? Again, a majority considered that it should. Some
Member States saw a case for a distinction in relation to children
aged between 16 and 18.
(iv) Should the production, acquisition and possession
of pornography be punishable whether or not it is for the purpose
of distribution? Once again, a majority considered that it should.
(v) Would an exemption from the obligation to criminalise
be appropriate in the case of images of persons over the age of
sexual majority where those images were produced and possessed
with the agreement of the persons concerned and solely for their
private use? There was general agreement that such an exemption
would be justified.
The Belgian Presidency will continue work on the
framework decision in the light of this debate.
Proposal for a directive on the right to family
The Council discussed scope issues once again, in
particular in relation to unmarried partners and minor children.
Whilst there were signs of increased flexibility on these issues,
there was no clear conclusion to the debate and the directive
was referred back to COREPER.
Proposal for a directive on minimum standards
on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing refugee
The Council held a general debate on the draft asylum
procedures directive on the basis of a Presidency paper focussing
on questions such as rules on the admissibility of asylum applications,
the number of appeals instances required, deadlines for processing
applications, substantive procedural guarantees and the scope
of application of the directive. I spoke more generally of the
need to establish EU wide minimum standards on asylum and the
need for the Council to accelerate its work on the package of
asylum proposals put forward by the European Commission. I indicated
that the United Kingdom was broadly content with the structure
of the Commission's proposal, but suggested that, particularly
as the proposal is intended only as a first step, the Council
would be able to make quicker progress if some unnecessarily detailed
provisions were simplified.
Several Member States argued that the directive should
be extended to cover subsidiary protection under the international
instruments, in addition to asylum under the 1951 Geneva Convention.
Another group of Member States could accept this on an optional
basis, while others were opposed.
The Presidency concluded that the discussion could
provide a basis for reaching agreement on a number of key issues
at the JHA Council on 6-7 December.
Security at meetings of the European Council and
the events likely to have a comparable impact
The Council discussed follow up to the conclusions
of the Special JHA Council of 13 July, with a view to ensuring
that key meetings under the Belgian Presidency pass off peacefully.
(i) List of possible amendments to the Europol
(ii) Council Decision extending Europol's mandate
to deal with the serious forms of international crime listed in
the Annex to the Europol Convention
The Council agreed a list of areas for work with
a view to possible future amendments to the Europol Convention,
taking account in particular of priorities identified in the Tampere
The Council agreed on the following particular priorities:
Europol's participation in joint investigative
Europol's right to request that an investigation
extension of Europol's mandate;
Europol's role in relation to security at
European Council meetings;
improvements in Europol's work file procedures;
relations with Eurojust;
democratic, judicial and administrative control
simplification of the procedure for amending
the Europol Convention.
The Council also reached provisional agreement, subject
to consideration of the European Parliament's opinion and a number
of parliamentary scrutiny reservations including the United Kingdom's
on the proposal for a decision extending Europol's mandate to
all forms of crime listed in the annex to the Europol Convention.
Other business: Presentation by the Netherlands
of a proposal for a Council Decision establishing a network of
contact points for the pursuit of those responsible for genocide,
crimes against humanity and war crimes
The Netherlands presented this new proposal to the
Draft framework decision on trafficking in human
The Council considered the issue of penalties for
human trafficking, the one issue outstanding following discussions
in the JHA Council in May 2001. The Council achieved a compromise
on this issue based on a minimum maximum penalty of eight years
in cases where aggravating circumstances were present. The provisional
agreement on the framework decision is subject to consideration
of the European Parliament's opinion and to parliamentary scrutiny
reservations from five Member States including the United Kingdom.
Three Member States made a statement recording their
opposition to minimum maximum penalties and calling for progress
in discussions on a general approach to approximation of penalties.
Meeting with Candidate Countries
Following the Council, Member States and the Commission
met with Ministers from the candidate countries to discuss combatting
trafficking in human beings. Participants agreed a document setting
out 12 principles on fighting human trafficking. I enclose a copy.
The Presidency also reported on the measures agreed at the JHA
Council on 20 September on combatting terrorism.
I am writing in similar terms to Lord Brabazon.
17 October 2001