Select Committee on European Scrutiny Tenth Report


JOINT INVESTIGATION TEAMS


(a)

(22977)

14242/01

(b)

(22978)

11990/01



Council Framework Decision on joint investigation teams.


Explanatory note on the initiative by the Kingdom of Belgium, the French Republic, the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom for the adoption by the Council of a draft Framework Decision on joint investigation teams.

Legal base: Articles 31(a) and 34(2)(b) EU; consultation; unanimity
Department: Home Office
Basis of consideration: Minister's letter of 4 December and EM of 7 December 2001
Previous Committee Report: None; but see (22620) 11990/01: HC 152-ii (2001-02), paragraph 41 (17 October 2001) and HC 152-vi (2001-02), paragraph 12 (14 November 2001)
To be discussed in Council: December 2001
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: (Both) Cleared

Background

  14.1  The aim of the document is to bring into effect those provisions in the Convention of 29 May 2000 on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters[22] which deal with joint investigation teams by presenting them as a Framework Decision. We cleared an earlier version in October,[23] but asked to see the explanatory note when it was produced.

  14.2  The Minister has written to update us on the situation. He tells us that an explanatory note has now been written. This and a new version of the text have been deposited (documents (b) and (a) respectively), together with an Explanatory Memorandum.

Document (a)

  14.3  Document (a) is the latest full text of the Framework Decision. The key change is that the scope of the proposal is no longer limited to terrorism and trafficking in drugs and human beings. It now applies to all crimes, as the Convention itself does.

  14.4  In addition, the first recital of the document, in relation to closer police co-operation in the European Union, now includes the words: "while respecting the principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law on which the Union is founded and which are common to the Member States". Otherwise the document is unchanged from the version we cleared in October.

Document (b)

  14.5  Document (b) is the explanatory note on the draft Framework Decision. It explains that the aim of the document is to bring into force, ahead of time, Article 13 of the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. For more detail, the reader is directed to the explanatory report on the Convention itself.[24]

The Government's view

  14.6  The Minister tells us:

"The draft Framework Decision...was welcomed by Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in their Council meeting in Brussels on 20 September 2001...The Government indicated in its Explanatory Memorandum of 1 October 2001 that it intended negotiating the Decision on the basis that, like the corresponding Article 13 of the Convention, it should apply to all crimes. This was achievable as is reflected in the revised wording of paragraph 1 of Article 1 of [document (a)]. This will enable joint investigation teams to investigate organised crime groups across the whole range of their criminal activities, rather than in relation to a narrower range of specific offences. The Government also supported the additional wording in the first recital, on respect for human rights."

  14.7  The Minister reminds us that he undertook to explain how the Framework Decision would be operated in practice. He is not yet able to do this, but will write again soon. He informs us that the UK intends applying the provisions well before 1 July 2002 (the stated date for implementation in the document) if there is an operational need. Other Member States are also prepared to operate the provisions early.

  14.8  On the timetable, the Minister says that the Belgian Presidency may seek adoption of the proposal before the end of the month.

Conclusion

  14.9  We thank the Minister for keeping the Committee informed of progress on this proposal, and for depositing the latest full version of the text. We are also grateful for his undertaking to let us know how the Framework Decision will be operated in practice. We clear both documents.


22  OJ No. C 197,12.7.00, p. 1. Back

23  (22620) 11990/01; see headnote to this paragraph. Back

24  OJ No. C 379, 29.12.00, p. 7. Back


 
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