Select Committee on European Union Twelfth Report

Letter from Lord Tordoff to Kate Hoey MP

  Thank you for your letter of 15 June regarding the interception provisions of the draft Mutual Assistance Convention. Sub-Committee E (Law and Institutions) considered your reply and a new version of the Convention, JUSTPEN 39, at its meeting on 30 June.

  The Committee notes that the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 27-28 May made no progress in resolving the key question concerning the scope of application of the interception provisions. Nor did the Council agree on the role, if any, of the Member State hosting a satellite ground station in "remote" interceptions by a national service provider in the intercepting State. It would seem that there was no discussion of a number of other outstanding issues, notably the need for data protection provisions, the application of the Convention to Gibraltar, the implications of the incorporation of the Schengen acquis within the EU, and the composition and operation of joint investigation teams.

  The Committee has decided to clear an earlier draft of the Convention, JUSTPEN 33, but intends to hold the latest version, JUSTPEN 39, under scrutiny. The Committee maintains a particular interest in the following unresolved matters:

    —  the general question as to the scope of application of the interception provisions (Articles 2a and 11a-14a);

    —  data protection;

    —  joint investigation teams (Article 10a); and

    —  the opt-out clause in Article 9(9) on hearings of an accused by video link.

  You will recall that the Committee decided to hold under scrutiny JUSTPEN 21 on the lifting of reservations to the 1959 Council of Europe Convention on Mutual Assistance pending clarification of the Presidency's reasons for omitting this from the draft Convention.

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

1 July 1999

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