Select Committee on European Union Thirteenth Report


5th REPORT, SESSION 1999-2000: UK PARTICIPATION IN THE SCHENGEN AQUIS

Letter from Barbara Roche MP, Minister of State, Home Office to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  You sent me on 10 March a copy of the Committee's report, published on 9 March, on UK participation in the Schengen acquis.

  The Government was grateful for the continuing interest shown in this important issue by the Committee, and for their very useful report. We have noted the comments made by the Committee on cross-border surveillance and "hot pursuit", the Schengen Information System and carriers' liability. The other specific points raised by the Committee are dealt with below.

Third country nationals

  I note the Committee's concern at the Government's policy of not allowing visa-free travel to third country nationals legally resident elsewhere in the Schengen area. As we have explained, we remain concerned that to permit such travel would conflict with the policy of maintaining border controls. We recognise that the number of visa applications from such person is not very high at present: however, the number travelling might increase significantly if the visa requirement were to be removed.

Ireland/UK

  The position in relation to Ireland has not changed.

Territorial scope

  As you know, the UK Permanent Representative has now written to the Presidency of the Council enclosing an amendment to the draft Council Decision on the UK application covering application to Gibraltar, the only missing element in the draft Decision. We have submitted the amendment for scrutiny and I now enclose an Explanatory Memorandum on it.

  Following the Foreign Secretary's announcement of 19 April on Gibraltar, the way is now clear for the Council to adopt its Decision on UK participation. The Presidency would like this to happen at the JHA Council on 29-30 May. The Government believes that it is strongly in the UK's interest to have the Decision adopted as soon as possible. It would therefore be very helpful if the Committee would, if at all possible, clear the draft Decision, as now amended, before 29-30 May.

  I am also sending the Explanatory Memorandum, with a similar request, to Jimmy Hood.

4 May 2000


 
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