Select Committee on European Scrutiny Third Report


POSSIBLE AMENDMENTS TO THE EUROPOL CONVENTION AND POSSIBLE EXTENSIONS OF EUROPOL'S MANDATE



(a)
(22598)
11282/01

(b)
(22723)
9093/2/01


(c)
(22724)
9093/4/01

List of possible amendments to the Europol Convention.



Initiative of the Kingdom of Belgium and the Kingdom of Sweden with a view to adopting a Council Decision extending Europol's mandate to deal with the serious forms of international crime listed in the Annex to the Europol Convention.

Initiative of the Kingdom of Belgium and the Kingdom of Sweden with a view to adopting a Council Decision extending Europol's mandate to deal with the serious forms of international crime listed in the Annex to the Europol Convention.


Legal base: (a) —
(b) and (c) Article 2 (2) Europol Convention; consultation; unanimity
Deposited in Parliament: (a) 24 August 2001
(b) and (c) 3 October 2001
Department: Home Office
Basis of consideration: EM of 16 October 2001
Previous Committee Report: None; but see (21996) 5134/01 and (22056) 5555/01: HC 152-i (2001-02), paragraph 33 (18 July 2001)
Discussed in Council: 27-28 September 2001
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: (All) Cleared

Background

13.1  We cleared earlier stages of these proposals in July. They have now been amended and revised.

Document (a)

13.2  Document (a) is a list of 19 possible amendments to the Europol Convention, prepared for submission to the Council for a political steer. The addendum describes it as a "shopping list" and explains that the items on it were proposed by different delegations. It also indicates the differing views of delegations about some of the items, and the priority to be accorded them. Items can be added to or removed from the list, with the exception of those called for by the Tampere European Council, which relate to joint investigative teams and cannot be removed.

13.3  We note that three delegations formulated a reservation in respect of the alignment of Europol's competences with those of Eurojust. They considered it would be premature to take a position on the relation between Europol and Eurojust before Eurojust had come into existence. (The previous Committee also expressed concern on this point.)

13.4  We also note that one item relates to the control of Europol. It suggests that new forms of control - parliamentary, internal and/or external - might be established. The addendum reports that the Commission "noted that the Europol Convention should not be amended as foreseen in [the] item".

Documents (b) and (c)

13.5  Documents (b) and (c) are versions of the draft Decision extending Europol's mandate to deal with the serious forms of international crime listed in the Annex to the Europol Convention. (Document (c) supersedes document (b).) The Decision also provides for the Council, acting unanimously, to state which forms of serious international crime should receive priority. The Director of Europol is charged to report regularly to the Management Board on the implementation of these priorities, and information about them is to be included in the Europol annual report.

The Government's view

13.6  In his Explanatory Memorandum, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (Mr Bob Ainsworth) says:

    "The Government supports the widening of Europol's mandate so that it can focus on the full range of criminal activities of organised crime groups. The document also attaches importance to ensuring that Europol appropriately prioritises its activities.

    "The Government also supports further consideration being given to improving the operation of the Europol Convention and to making it a more flexible instrument, more easily amendable in the future, in line with the forthcoming Council Decision establishing Eurojust."

13.7  Although there are no immediate financial implications, the extension of the mandate and any amendments to the Convention could affect the Europol budget (to which all Member States contribute) eventually.

13.8  The Minister tells us that the Justice and Home Affairs Council agreed at its meeting on 27-28 September that discussions on amending the Europol Convention should continue, on the basis of document (a). It also approved the extension of Europol's mandate, subject to the lifting of outstanding parliamentary reserves (the UK's among them) and the opinion of the European Parliament which is expected by 1 November.

Conclusion

13.9  We are content to clear document (a) at this stage, since it is simply a basis for discussion. We ask the Minister for his assurance, however, that any formal proposal to amend the Europol Convention will be submitted for parliamentary scrutiny.

13.10  Although we are disappointed that the Council "approved" the extension of Europol's mandate before we had an opportunity to consider documents (b) and (c), we are somewhat relieved that the decision was subject to the lifting of outstanding parliamentary reserves. Now that we have considered documents (b) and (c), we are content to clear them.


 
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Prepared 12 November 2001