20. COMMON USE OF LIAISON OFFICERS
Initiative of the Kingdom of Denmark with a view to adopting a Council Decision on the common use of liaison officers posted abroad by the law enforcement agencies of the Member States.
|Legal base:||Articles 30 (1)(a)(b)(c), (2)(c) and 34(2)(c)EU; consultation; unanimity
|Basis of consideration:||Minister's letter of 29 October 2002
|Previous Committee Report:||HC 152-xxxviii (2001-02), paragraph 14 (16 October 2002)
|To be discussed in Council:||28-29 November 2002
|Committee's assessment:||Politically important
20.1 This draft Directive aims to strengthen co-operation
between liaison officers posted to third countries and international
organisations by the law enforcement agencies of Member States.
It builds on, and will replace, Joint Action 96/602/JHA
providing for a common framework for the initiatives of the Member
States concerning liaison officers. It will also replace Article
47(4) of the Schengen Convention.
20.2 When we first considered the proposal (in October),
we noted that the Government had a number of concerns about it,
and decided to keep the document under scrutiny until we knew
whether they had been resolved. We also asked for information
about the UK's national contact point.
The Minister's letter
20.3 The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the
Home Office (Mr Bob Ainsworth) has now written, telling us that
the UK has followed up its concerns with EU colleagues, and has
secured a number of minor amendments to the text. He says:
"We have clarified that:
- UK liaison officers will continue to be able to prioritise
UK needs above requests from other Member States; and
- any obligations placed on liaison officers by this decision
will not impact negatively on existing informal co-operation arrangements.
"We have also ensured during negotiations that:
- both the pre-amble and the body of the decision contain the
appropriate references to ensure requests to liaison officers
should be restricted to serious international crime; and
- the Presidency and EU colleagues have taken account of similar
initiatives such as the CIREFI group's work on establishing a
network of immigration liaison officers, to ensure a consistent
approach in this decision."
20.4 Turning to the national contact point, the Minister
tells us that he expects it to be based in the first instance
in the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) given that
NCIS already acts as a central point for information exchange
and as a co-ordinating body for a number of overseas liaison posts
and is accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week. NCIS will
liaise as necessary with HM Customs and Excise which also controls
overseas liaison officers.
20.5 The Minister confirms that the Presidency intends
to seek agreement on this proposal at the Justice and Home Affairs
Council on 28-29 November.
20.6 We thank the Minister for his letter, and congratulate
him on successful negotiations which have satisfied his earlier
concerns about this proposal. We now clear the document.
L 268, 19.10.1996, p.2. Back