Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Fourth Report


13. DRAFT AGREEMENT BETWEEN EUROPOL AND INTERPOL AND THE JOINT SUPERVISORY BODY'S OPINION ON IT

(a)
(22214)

(b)
(22811)

Draft agreement between Interpol and Europol.



Opinion of the Joint Supervisory Body in respect of the draft agreement to be signed between Europol and Interpol.

Legal base:Articles 42,10 and 18 of the Europol Convention and the Council Decision of 27 March 2000 authorising the Director of Europol to enter into negotiations on agreements with certain third states and non-EU related bodies; unanimity
Department:Home Office
Basis of consideration:Minister's letter of 30 May 2002
Previous Committee Reports:HC 152-iv (2001-02), paragraph 6 (7 November 2001) and HC 152-xxviii (2001-02), paragraph 3 (8 May 2002)
To be discussed in Council:Already adopted
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:(Both) Cleared


Background

  13.1  We last considered these documents on the basis of a Memorandum from the Information Commissioner. She reassured us that the Joint Supervisory Board (JSB), which monitors Europol's activities in relation to data protection issues, was satisfied with the Agreement between Europol and Interpol and, in general, considered that its observations were taken seriously by the Management Board and especially by the Director. However, two points in her Memorandum caused us some concern, and we raised them with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (Mr Bob Ainsworth), while keeping the documents under scrutiny.

The Minister's letter

  

  13.2  The Minister has now written to address our points.

  13.3  Having learned from the Information Commissioner's Memorandum that the Director of Europol had authorised the communication of data to the US authorities using the urgency procedure, we asked whether there was any provision for notifying Parliament about the use of this procedure. The Minister tells us:

      "The decision of the Director of Europol to transfer data to the United States under the urgency procedure after the events of September 11th was quickly followed by the conclusion of a draft Agreement between Europol and the USA (which specifically excludes the transmission of personal data), and work continues on an agreement that would include personal data.

      "The Director informed the Management Board and the Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) that he had transferred the data, and the reasons for that decision as he is required to do under the terms of the Europol Convention. There is no requirement for such a decision to be reported to the Council, and no official document for us to consider against the criteria for depositing with the scrutiny committees. NCIS do inform the Home Office when the urgency procedure is used, and we consider that the process in place is adequate."

  13.4  Our second point related to the JSB's concern that Europol work on Member State Operational Projects With Europol Support (MSOPES). (reported in the Memorandum) was outside the Convention. The Minister reports:

      "The Director of Europol and the Europol Management Board do not agree that these projects contravene the Convention, and discussions are continuing both in the Management Board and between the Board and the JSB on how to resolve this issue. The UK has put forward proposals on how this problem can be resolved. The UK has taken part in these projects, recognising that there are clear operational benefits in doing so, and will continue to do so whilst working to resolve the matter."

Conclusion

  13.5  We thank the Minister for his reply. Notification that the urgency procedure has been used seems to us the kind of issue which should be discussed as part of the debate on democratic control of Europol. We hope the Minister will consider raising it in relevant fora.

  13.6  We now clear both documents.


 
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