SUMMARY OF ISSUES ADDRESSED IN THE REPORT
The Schengen acquis is a large and detailed
body of rules which make it easier for people to move freely within
the Schengen area. This report deals with the process of bringing
the acquis into the EU framework. We have considered three
(i) whether the acquis is accessible:
is there ready access to the documents forming the acquis?
Are these documents easy to understand and interpret?
(ii) whether the process of incorporation ensures
legal certainty: are individuals and Governments able to
identify the source of their rights and obligations?
(iii) what might be the implications for the United
Kingdom: will the UK's opt-out impair existing co-operation
with EU partners? Is the opt-out sustainable? Are there Schengen
areas in which the United Kingdom might wish to participate?
In considering these questions, our guiding principles
have been openness and transparency, and the need
for legal certainty.
The Government have done their best
to make the acquis available to us. Arrangements to bring
the acquis into the EU were agreed a year ago. Yet a definitive
version of the acquis still does not exist (paragraphs
100 and 109). It is possible that the acquis may be
brought into force before a definitive list has been published.
Moreover, the density and complexity of the documents so far disclosed
severely hamper the ability of national Parliaments to ensure
effective scrutiny before the Amsterdam Treaty (and with it, the
acquis) enters into force. (paragraph 101)
It is still unclear how much of the
acquis will be incorporated into the existing EU structures
(paragraph 136). Acquis provisions will be split
between the revised First and Third Pillars of the EU Treaties.
There are different decision-making procedures, institutional
and judicial arrangements for each Pillar. Even if the United
Kingdom does not opt in, there will be an effect on British citizens
travelling to other EU countries (paragraph 151). How will
they ascertain their rights or obtain legal redress where appropriate?
(paragraphs 89-92, 142)
Little time remains for untangling the
acquis. This Committee does not yet have a clear picture
of what is in the acquis, or what it will mean. Nor are
we convinced that the Government has really come to grips with
this issue (paragraph 112). For the benefit of Parliament,
the Government and all European citizens, there is now a need
for a clear and concise explanation of the content of the acquis
and its likely implications. (paragraphs 100-101, 168)
We hope that this Report will set the