Select Committee on European Scrutiny Twelfth Report


FREEDOM OF TRAVEL FOR THIRD-COUNTRY NATIONALS WITHIN THE TERRITORY OF THE MEMBER STATES


(22564)
10865/01
COM(01) 388

Draft Council Directive relating to the conditions in which third-country nationals shall have the freedom to travel in the territory of the Member States for periods not exceeding three months, introducing a specific travel authorisation and determining the conditions of entry and movement for periods not exceeding six months.


Legal base:Articles 62(3) and 63(3) EC; consultation; unanimity of participating States
Document originated:10 July 2001
Forwarded to the Council: 11 July 2001
Deposited in Parliament: 26 July 2001
Department:Home Office
Basis of consideration: Minister's letter of 18 December 2001
Previous Committee Report: HC 152-ix (2001-02), paragraph 7 (5 December 2001)
To be discussed in Council: No date set
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:Cleared



Background

  15.1  This document is concerned with the conditions under which third-country nationals can enjoy freedom of movement, for a limited time, in the territory of the Member States. It constitutes a development of the Schengen acquis. Although the UK has not applied to participate in those parts of the acquis dealing with border controls and visa policy, it could opt into this measure if it wished.

  15.2  When we first considered the proposal, in December, we noted that the tenor of the Government's Explanatory Memorandum suggested that the UK was not going to opt into the measure. We asked the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (Angela Eagle) for an explicit statement about the Government's intention in this respect. We also asked whether there were any plans to make travel simpler for those third-country nationals who met the specified conditions in the proposal, if the UK did not opt into the measure.

The Minister's letter

  15.3  The Minister has now responded. She tells us:

    "With regards to UK participation, the UK did not opt into this proposal. The draft Directive is a development of the Schengen acquis on borders and visas in which the UK does not participate. Participation in this measure would have conflicted with our policy on our frontiers and immigration control."

  15.4  The Minister acknowledges that there is likely to be some disappointment amongst third-country nationals legally resident in the UK, since the provisions of this Directive will not be extended to them. In relation to entry into the UK, she says:

    "The work permit regime provides a quick and flexible approach for employers to obtain staff from overseas when required. Recent improvements include the Multiple entry work permit which is specifically designed for staff who are not based in the UK permanently but are needed regularly for short periods. We also provide a number of permit free entry occasions for artists and entertainers coming to specific named festivals or for charity events."  

Conclusion

  15.5  We thank the Minister for her prompt and clear response. We agree that the decision not to opt into the measure will disappoint third-country nationals legally resident here who will still have to obtain a Schengen visa in order to travel to a Member State outside the UK.

  15.6  In view of the Government's decision not to opt into the measure (and, as we understand it, not to take an active part in its negotiation) we clear the document. However, we ask to be kept informed of developments.


 
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