Select Committee on European Communities Third Report

APPENDIX 2 (Continued)


Justice and Home Affairs

...We do not believe that to introduce majority voting would be beneficial.(277)

...Although we have noted from the Progress Report of the Chairman of the Reflection Group on the IGC that "a large majority" of the Group feel it necessary to bring the provisions of the third pillar at least partially into the Community sphere, we do not share their view.(278)

...We therefore endorse the amendment proposed by JUSTICE, described in paragraph 194 above, which would preclude Council decision on a third pillar instrument unless the national parliament of each Member State had been offered, in accordance with the procedures applicable in each Member State, an opportunity to express its views. We would not however support the amendment suggested by JUSTICE, which would require third pillar instruments to be adopted by co-decision between the Council and the European Parliament, since we do not believe that this would be compatible with the essentially inter-governmental character of the Justice and Home Affairs pillar.(280)


Justice and Home Affairs

The existing Justice and Home Affairs Pillar has been divided into two parts. One part becomes a new Title III-A in the EC Treaty, and therefore becomes an area of Community competence. The other part remains inter-governmental.

The new Title III-A is devoted to free movement of persons, asylum and immigration, and obliges the Council within five years from the entry into force of the new Treaty, to adopt measures to abolish "any controls on persons, be they citizens of the Union or nationals of third countries, when crossing internal borders." However, this is modified by protocols safeguarding the positions of the United Kingdom and Ireland which establish that the United Kingdom is entitled to exercise frontier controls[12] (Protocol X) and allowing the United Kingdom and Ireland to opt-in to work under the new Title III-A (Protocol Y). The Council is given five years to agree measures to harmonize the control regime applying at the external borders of the Union and to adopt new measures on asylum[13].

The voting rules for the above measures are complicated. During the period of five years in which the Council is obliged to act, it shall do so unanimously. Either the Commission or a Member State shall have the right of initiative during this period. After the period of five years has elapsed, the Commission will have the sole right of initiative. The Council will also then take a decision as to whether to adopt the co-decision procedure, with the use of QMV at certain stages, for any outstanding decisions.

The remaining parts of the Justice and Home Affairs Pillar will form a separate Pillar which will be entitled "Provisions on Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters". This Pillar will remain inter-governmental. Decisions all remain subject to unanimity although limited provision is made for qualified majority voting for "any other purpose consistent with the objectives of this Title, excluding any approximation of the laws and regulations of the Member States". The Treaty will introduce new legislative instruments and provide for consultation with the European Parliament under the Third Pillar.

The protocol on national parliaments (see page 43) requires that an interval of six weeks shall elapse between a proposal for a measure to be adopted under Title VI of the Treaty being made available by the Commission and the date when it is placed on a Council agenda for decision. This period will allow national parliaments time to scrutinise such proposals.

12   There is also a protocol dealing with the position of Denmark. Back

13   Some measures on asylum, in particular (a) burden sharing with regard to the consequences to receiving refugees and displaced persons, (b) conditions of entry and residence of immigrants, and (c) measures defining the rights of movement and residence of nationals of third countries who are legally resident in a Member State are not subject to the five year timetable. Back

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Prepared 24 July 1997