Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Second Report


24. READMISSION AGREEMENT WITH HONG KONG


(23489)

8518/02

SEC(02) 412


(a) Draft Council Decision concerning the signing of the Agreement between the European Community and the Government of the Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation.

(b) Draft Council Decision concerning the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Community and the Government of the Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China on the readmission of persons residing without authorisation.

Legal base:(a) Articles 63(3) and 300(2)EC; —; unanimity

(b) Articles 63(3) and 300(2) and (3) EC; consultation; unanimity

Document originated:18 April 2002
Deposited in Parliament:24 May 2002
Department:Home Office
Basis of consideration:EM of 27 May 2002
Previous Committee Report:None
To be discussed in Council:13 June 2002
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:Cleared


Background

  24.1  These two draft Decisions relate to the signing and concluding of the first Readmission Agreement with the Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China (Hong Kong). The then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (Angela Eagle) tells us that the proposal for such an agreement arose during negotiations on the new Common Visa List. The UK achieved an exemption for Hong Kong SAR from a visa requirement. Other Member States agreed the exemption on the condition that a Readmission Agreement was negotiated.     

The document

  24.2  The document comprises the text of the two draft Decisions and an Annex which contains the agreement itself. The readmission obligations are fully reciprocal, and cover own nationals, permanent residents and "persons of another jurisdiction"(defined as including third-country nationals and stateless persons). The obligation to readmit persons of another jurisdiction is limited to those who held a valid residence authorisation or visa of the requested Party at the time of entry, or who unlawfully entered the territory of the requesting Party directly from the territory of the requested Party. The agreement includes provisions covering transit operations, technical matters relating to the readmission procedure and the composition and remit of a monitoring Committee of Experts.

The Government's view

  24.3  The Minister tells us that the UK has opted into both the negotiating mandate for the readmission agreement and the agreement itself. She does not consider that the agreement will significantly benefit the UK, although it may provide scope for removing rejected asylum seekers from the Chinese mainland who have arrived in the UK via Hong Kong SAR. More important, however, is its contribution to a comprehensive Community approach to tackling illegal migration, which the UK strongly supports.

  24.4  The Minister reports that the Presidency is seeking adoption of these Decisions at the JHA Council on 13 June so that the agreement can be signed during the visit to Brussels of a Government representative of the Hong Kong SAR later in the month.

Conclusion

  24.5  We clear the document.


 
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Prepared 4 July 2002