Select Committee on European Communities Tenth Report

Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Select Committee on the European Communities to Joyce Quin MP, Minister of State at the Home Office

  The draft Eurodac Convention is currently under scrutiny by Sub-Committe E (Law and Institutions). Having regard to the concerns expressed last November by Justice—you will recall that I sent you a copy of their letter of 18 November—the views of Justice were sought on the draft furnished by you under cover of your Explanatory Note of 26 January.

  Earlier this week officials here spoke to your officials after having read in the March statement of business for the Council of the European Union the following entry for the March 19 Justice and Home Affairs Council:

    "Eurodac Convention: Conclusion and signature".

  This took officials here somewhat by surprise given newspaper reports of certain difficulties besetting the negotiations and no indication from your officials of the potential urgency of this matter. As you may know, officials here have been working closely with your officials in the prioritisation and handling of a number of Third Pillar matters currently under scrutiny.

  I have now received the enclosed letter from Justice. I would be pleased to have your response to the points of substance raised by them on the text of the Convention.

  At the same time it would be helpful if you would comment on the reports in the press to the effect that Austria and Germany had proposed extending the Convention to provide for the automatic fingerprinting of persons trying to enter the Union illegally. It would also be helpful if you could comment on the Dutch position as described in Justice`s letter.

  Finally, I would be grateful if you could say whether any other Member State would have any difficulty in signing the Convention. If so, could you please describe the nature of their concerns. I appreciate that you may not feel able to identify any particular Member State.

  I am copying this letter to the Chairman and Clerk of the European Legisation Committee in the House of Commons.

11 March 1998

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