Select Committee on European Union Forty-Ninth Report


SCHENGEN INFORMATION SYSTEM: NEW FUNCTIONS (9407/02 AND 9408/02)

Letter from the Chairman to Bob Ainsworth MP, Under-Secretary of State, Home Office

  Sub-Committee F (Social Affairs, Education and Home Affairs) examined the proposals at its meeting on 17 July. The Committee notes that the two proposals represent significant developments of the scope and use of SIS.

  Perhaps the most significant is allowing access to SIS by Europol and Eurojust. In the course of its current inquiry into a common policy on illegal immigration the Sub-Committee has received evidence from both bodies in favour of greater access to SIS, and there is clearly a strong case for that. At the same time it has far-reaching implications for data protection (in view of the potential data exchange and matching between EU bodies). We would welcome the Government's view on whether it regards the safeguards provided in the proposed Decision regarding access and use of SIS data by other EU bodies as adequate.

  The Explanatory Memorandum indicates that there is some uncertainty about the application of the proposals (especially the Regulation) to the UK. The Committee would welcome any information on the progress of negotiations on this issue. As it seems increasingly difficult to dissociate "immigration" from "law enforcement" data, would the Government consider addressing this complication by opting in to the immigration component of SIS?

  The Committee decided to retain the document under scrutiny pending your comments on these points.

18 July 2002

Letter from Bob Ainsworth MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State to the Chairman

  I am grateful to the Committee for their response of 18 July which raises some important issues.

  The issue of access to the Schengen Information System (SIS) by both Europol and Eurojust has been the subject of lengthy discussion in Brussels; questions of data protection being one of the chief concerns of the United Kingdom and our EU partners.

Europol

  Data protection issues that relate to Europol are overseen by the Joint Supervisory Body (JSB); participation from the UK is by a representative from the Information Commissioner's office. The JSB ensures that the storage, processing and utilisation of the data held by Europol do not violate the rights of the individual. The ways in which Europol may use SIS data area tightly defined and the JSB is specifically authorised to review the activities of Europol in relation to the SIS. Furthermore, the Council Decision commits Europol to adopt measures as envisaged under Article 118 of the Schengen Convention. This provides further safeguards in order to:

    —  prevent unauthorised persons access to data processing equipment;

    —  prevent unauthorised reading, copying and modification of data media;

    —  prevent unauthorised input of data and the unauthorised inspection, modification or deletion of stored personal data;

    —  prevent the use of automated data processing systems by unauthorised persons;

    —  ensure that persons authorised to use an automated data processing system only have access to the data covered by their access authorisation;

    —  ensure that it is possible to verify and establish to which bodies personal data may be transmitted using data communication equipment;

    —  ensure that it is subsequently possible to verify and establish which personal data have been input into automated data processing systems and when and by whom the data were input; and

    —  prevent the unauthorised reading, copying, modification or deletion of personal data during transfers of personal data or during transportation of data media.

  The Government regards the safeguards provided in the proposed Council Decision regarding access by Europol as satisfactory.

Eurojust

  The Council Decision provides that access to SIS by the UK national member of Eurojust will be safeguarded by the UK's data protection provisions. This ensures that the Information Commissioner will have oversight of the UK national member's usage of SIS data. Each national member of Eurojust will therefore be bound by their own country's data protection laws. The detail of how this access would work in practice is less further developed than the arrangements for Europol and we shall seek to ensure in negotiation that whatever arrangements are settled upon meet our exacting data protection expectations.

Application of the proposals to the UK

  As you are aware, the UK (together with Ireland) will not participate in the Schengen arrangements for the removal of external frontier controls and for the common system of issuing visas. This is in accordance with the agreement reached at the Treaty of Amsterdam enabling us to retain/keep our internal frontier controls.

  After further consideration of the terms of the Regulation, we have concluded that it may be in the UK's interests to participate in the amended Article 101.2, given its origins in combating terrorism and the UK's generally positive approach to measures to combat illegal immigration. We therefore intend to explore whether the full implications of the UK's exclusion from it have been understood and whether it can be amended such as to permit our participation, in a way consistent with our partial participation in the Schengen acquis and not affecting our position on frontier controls. We shall of course keep the Committee informed of developments.

21 August 2002

Letter from the Chairman to Bob Ainsworth

  Thank you for you letter of 21 August regarding these proposals. Sub-Committee F (Social Affairs, Education and Home Affairs) considered your response at its meeting on 23 October.

  The Committee would like to welcome the Government's consideration of participation in Article 101(2), which would substantially enhance EU co-operation in the field. We question, however, whether the Government will be able to participate as long as it refuses to opt in to the immigration provisions of Schengen.

  We would, however, reiterate that any extension of the use and exchange of Schengen Information Systems (SIS) data both by national authorities and EU institutions should be subject to stringent and clearly defined data protection safeguards. In this context, we welcome your commitment towards ensuring high data protection standards in relation to the role of Eurojust.

  It appears that the proposals will be the subject of extensive negotiations, of which we should like to be fully informed. In the meantime, the Committee decided to retain the documents under scrutiny.

28 October 2002

Letter from Bob Ainsworth to the Chairman

  I am grateful to the Committee for its response of 28 October, which raises some important issues on these linked measures.

  Since my letter of 21 August, there have been further developments on which I should like to update the Committee.

APPLICATION OF THE PROPOSALS TO THE UK

  We have now presented to our EU colleagues our proposal of participating in the amended Article 101.2. These discussions are still at an early stage. Should our participation in this provision be accepted we consider that there may be some reservations as to the whether a partial opt-in to the Regulation is the best way to proceed. Certainly this would be a novel legal situation. We might need to explore with our EU partners other legal and technical possibilities. Ireland has supported our proposal, although they have not sought to participate in the Regulation.

  The Government considers that the UK is able to participate in this article without needing to opt into the external frontier provisions of Schengen because, even though immigration and visa authorities will be the data users, the purpose of this access will be for law enforcement reasons, as provided for in Article 100, and not for the purpose of refusing entry. The UK has drawn to attention that access to these data would also support its participation in Article 26 on the Schengen Convention. This will clearly form part of the negotiation.

EUROPOL

  The Government has already explained to the Committee the data protection safeguards provided in the proposed Council Decision regarding access by Europol. They are supported by the Schengen Joint Supervisory Authority. As stated in my letter of 21 August, the Government regards these safeguards as satisfactory.

  At the last meeting of officials the majority view was that Europol should have access only to Articles 95, 99 and 100 of the Convention. Access to Article 96 is being given further consideration but the Government is content with the categories of access agreed so far which can directly be justified in relation to Europol's activities. Broader access would have to be justified, in the Government's view, through a change of purpose in the use of Article 96 data and would therefore require wider amendment to the Schengen Convention.

EUROJUST

  The same meeting also reached a majority view that Eurojust would have access only to Articles 95 and 98 of the Convention, although this might be revisited in the context of SIS II. The Government believes this is the correct approach and is content, again based on Eurojust's current remit.

  In my letter of 21 August I also explained the data protection safeguards for access to SIS data by the UK national member of Eurojust. Article 22(2) of the Council Decision establishing Erojust requires that the technical and organisational arrangements for data protection will be addressed by its rules of procedure. They will be subject to approval by the Eurojust joint supervisory body which, when it is established shortly, will have general oversight of Eurojust's handling of personal data. Under Article 14(2) of the Decision establishing Eurojust, Eurojust also must guarantee a level of protection for personal data at least equivalent to that resulting from the application of the principles of the 1981 Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data and subsequent amendments which are in force. We intend to press for language to make Eurojust's access to SIS data explicitly conditional on the existence of rules of procedure under Article 22(2) and a favourable opinion from the Schengen Joint Supervisory Authority.

  It is still not clear how Eurojust's access to the SIS will operate at a technical level but we shall continue seeking to ensure in the negotiations that our data protection expectations are fully reflected in whatever arrangements are settled upon.


SIS DATA PROTECTION SAFEGUARDS

  In addition to the specific data protection safeguards which will secure access by Europol and Eurojust, the SIS already has robust data protection measures in place, pursuant to the Schengen Convention:

    —  Article 114 of the Schengen Convention calls for each contracting party to designate a supervisory authority responsible in accordance with national law for carrying out independent supervision of the data file of the Schengen Information System and for checking that the processing and use of data entered in the Schengen Information System does not violate the rights of the data subject.

    —  Articles 109 and 110 of the Schengen Convention recognise that the rights of persons to have access to data entered in the SIS which relate to them shall be exercised in accordance with the law of the contracting party and that any person may have factually inaccurate data relating to them corrected, or any unlawfully stored data relating to them deleted.

    —  A Joint Supervisory Authority (set-up pursuant to Article 115 of the Schengen Convention) is a specific authority that exists solely to supervise data handled by the technical support function of the SIS. Supervision is carried out in accordance with the provisions of not only the Schengen Convention, but also the Council of Europe Convention of 28 January 1981 for the Protection of Individuals with regard to the Automatic Processing of Personal Data.

  The Information Commissioner will be designated by the UK to act in accordance with these Articles and will report directly to the UK Parliament on all the above issues.

  I should like to inform the Committee that the Presidency's current intention is to put these proposals for adoption at the 19-20 December JHA Council. I would therefore press the Committee to complete its scrutiny of them urgently.

18 November 2002

Letter from Bob Ainsworth to the Chairman

  Further to my letter of 18 November, it may assist Sub-Committee F's consideration of these proposals if I provide an update on the working group's consideration of 15 November in relation to the two items of particular interest to the UK.

Application of the proposals to the UK

  When the UK's participation in the extended use of Article 100 data was discussed, the clear view was that the terms of the UK's participation already permit us to provide access to our immigration authorities both for the original purpose of Article 100 data (that is, seizure in criminal procedures) and for immigration purposes, to the extent that the UK participates in Articles 26 and 27 of the Schengen Convention. It is evident that we could not take action in relation to Schengen provisions in which we do not participate. On this basis, the Government is satisfied that our basic objective, of ensuring UK participation in these arrangements to the extent compatible with our Schengen participation generally, is met without needing to participate in the Council Regulation. It has been agreed that this understanding will be confirmed in a preambular of declaratory phrase at the time of adoption of these instruments.

Eurojust

  As indicated in my letter of 18 November, the UK raised specifically the issue of making Eurojust's access to SIS data dependant on satisfactory opinions from its own and the Schengen joint supervisory bodies. This was a point of concern to several other Member States. It was agreed that, as Article 2 of the draft Council Decision specifically provides for its implementation to be subject to a second Council Decision which would first evaluate standards, this point could fully be subsumed into Article 2. When taken together with the specific data protection safeguards outlined in my earlier letter, the Government is now satisfied that the process of Eurojust's access to the SIS is fully safeguarded. The opiniions of the Eurojust and Schengen joint supervisory bodies are of course elements which the UK will wish specifically to take into account at the time of the second Council Decision.

  The Presidency has confirmed its intention to seek agreement to these two measures at the JHA Council on 19-20 December. The Government is content with the texts as they stand.

19 November 2002

Letter from the Chairman to Bob Ainsworth

  Thank you for your letters of 18 and 19 November, which Sub-Committee F (Social Affairs, Education and Home Affairs) considered at a meeting on 27 November. These have helpfully answered a number of questions we had, but there remain the following points on which we would welcome further clarification.

Application of the proposals to the United Kingdom

  The Committee notes that it is now accepted that access to Article 100 data by UK immigration authorities is permitted to the extent that the UK participates in Articles 26 and 27 of the Schengen Convention. This clearly removes the major difficulty associated with the idea of partial UK participation in the Regulation as previously proposed. However, it is not clear whether the arrangement now envisaged would cover access to Article 96 data by immigration authorities in accordance with the revised Article 101(2) and how the "purpose" of access would be ascertained. It would be helpful to know how this will work in practice.

Europol

  Denying Europol access to Schengen Information System (SIS) data relating to immigration is consistent with the safeguard provided by Article 101A(2), as amended by the proposed Decision, which states that Europol may search only data which it requires for the performance of its tasks. However, as has been pointed out during the Committee's current inquiry into proposals to amend the Europol Convention, these tasks may be considerably extended if Europol's remit is extended to serious crime. It would be helpful in this context if the Committee could be provided with a copy of the opinion of the Schengen Joint Supervisory Authority, which, according to your letter, supports the Europol data protection safeguards.

Eurojust

  We welcome your clarification regarding access to the Schengen Information System by Eurojust, which will be subject to satisfactory opinions from its own and the Schengen joint supervisory bodies. In view of this, it would seem more appropriate to omit Eurojust altogether from the current Decision and leave it to be covered by the second Decision. But the situation you describe is clearly a substantial improvement on what was previously proposed and we will not press at this stage for the omission of Eurojust from the Decision.

  The Committee decided to retain both documents under scrutiny pending your response to these points. We would be grateful if you could also confirm that documents 9407 and 9408 are the documents to be considered by the JHA Council later this month. If they have been superseded by revised drafts, the Committee would expect to examine any revised document prior to granting clearance.

5 December 2002

Letter from Bob Ainsworth to the Chairman

  I am grateful to the Committee for its response of 5 December. You requested further clarification on certain issues, to which this letter provides a response.

Application of the proposals to the UK

  You ask in your letter whether the new arrangements would imply access to Article 96 for the UK immigration authorities. The UK does not participate in the immigration provisions of Schengen and therefore will not have access to Article 96 data, which supports the Schengen provisions on immigration control at the external frontier and the issue of residence permits. Use of Article 96 data for purposes other than administering Schengen visa and external border arrangements and residence permits would require an amendment to the Schengen Convention. Article 96 data will of course continue to be available for these purposes to those Member States operating the full Schengen regime, as originally provided for in Article 101(2).

Europol

  The Joint Supervisory Authority presented its final opinion on SIS 38 and SIS 39 on 3 December. I enclose a copy of the document for your reference.

  On the specific issue of Europol, the JSA acknowledges the possible added value which Europol's access to the Schengen Information System (SIS) could have for maintaining public security in the Schengen area as well as to the objective of Europol. This is welcome. It also raises the issue of the departure which this extension—and that to Eurojust—represents from the basic principles of Article 102 of the Schengen Convention concerning the use of SIS data. Article 102 is drafted in terms of the responsibilities of the "contracting parties" (ie the Member States) and does not therefore apply to EU agencies such as Europol. The Council has noted this point in considering the Spanish proposals. The Government considers that this would be a key issue if the extension of SIS access to these two bodies went beyond the tightly limited access which is being proposed. The nature of the data which it is intended to provide to Europol and Eurojust does however, in our view, so closely match the common purposes of both the Schengen and Europol Conventions (and the Eurojust Decision in that case) that such an extension can be justified within existing data protection arrangements.

Eurojust

  The Committee has suggested that Eurojust should be omitted from the current Decision and that it should be left to be covered by the second Decision. Our assessment is that there is no prospect of the Council agreeing to such an approach. The current Decision is consistent with the Council Declaration annexed to Council Decision 2002/187/JHA of 28 February 2002, of which I enclose a copy (not printed), which agreed to establish arrangements whereby the national members of Eurojust would have access to certain data in the SIS, in particular to Articles 95 and 98, by 15 June 2002. This reflects the link between the remit of Eurojust and the data available in the SIS which would assist them in delivering it more effectively.

Latest documents

  You have asked for confirmation that the documents which the Committee is holding under scrutiny are the ones to be considered by the JHA Council later this month. Revised versions of the documents which the Committee is holding under scrutiny will be submitted for agreement at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 19-20 December. I can confirm that the final texts will reflect the changes of which I have informed the Committee through this correspondence. I therefore do not intend to deposit these as there will be no substantive changes and I have kept the Committee fully informed of all issues arising with regard to these documents.

12 December 2002

Letter from the Chairman to Bob Ainsworth

  Thank you for your letter of 12 December on the above proposals (which reached me only on 19 December and then without the attachments). Your informative response was most helpful for Sub-Committee F (Social Affairs, Education and Home Affairs) in its consideration of the proposals on 15 January. I am sorry to prolong this lengthy correspondence, but there are still two points on which the Committee would welcome your comments.

Access to Article 96 data by UK immigration authorities

  Your clarification of the position is welcome. We note however that, in a letter of 23 December informing me of the outcome of the December JHA Council, Lord Filkin refers to a Council Declaration on access by UK immigration authorities to Schengen Information System (SIS) data on stolen and forged documents. Your letter contains no reference to this Declaration and it would be helpful to be assured that it is consistent with the UK position on access to Article 96 data as set out in your letter; and for the Committee to see the Declaration prior to releasing the documents from scrutiny. We note your reasons for not submitting for scrutiny the revised drafts that went to the JHA Council, but remain of the view that it would have been preferable to do so, particularly if it had brought this Declaration to our attention.

Europol and Eurojust

  As you noted, there seems indeed to be a problem with the legal basis enabling access to the Schengen database by Europol and Eurojust. The current wording implies that such access would require an amendment of the Schengen Convention. Is this the case?

  The Committee decided to continue to retain the documents under scrutiny pending your response to these points.

16 January 2003

Letter from Bob Ainsworth to the Chairman

  I am grateful to the Committee for its response of 16 January. You requested further clarification on certain issues, to which this letter provides a response.

Access to Schengen Information System (SIS) data by UK immigration authorities

  You asked in your letter for a copy of the Council Declaration on access by UK immigration authorities to Article 100 data (stolen and forged documents) and whether it was consistent with the UK's position on access to Article 96 data. My letter to you of 19 November 2002 explained that the purpose of such a Declaration was to confirm in writing the understanding that the UK's immigration authorities were already authorised to have access to Article 100 data for the purposes of seizure or use as evidence in criminal proceedings and for the limited areas of our participation in immigration matters (ie Articles 26 and 27). This Declaration was presented to the JHA Council of 19 December 2002, and its text reads as follows:

    The Council notes that, in accordance with the provisions of the Schengen Convention and Council Decision 2000/365/EC, UK immigration authorities are authorised to have access to Article 100 data, only to the extent that this access is for the purposes of seizure or use as evidence in criminal proceedings of the objects in question and to proceed to such prosecution of those in possession of the objects as may be necessary.

  I can confirm that this Declaration is consistent with the UK position on access to Article 96 data and with our Frontiers Protocol in general, since it relates access to existing UK involvement in Schengen for law enforcement purposes.

Europol and Eurojust

  You asked in your letter whether access to the SIS by Europol and Eurojust would require an amendment of the Schengen Convention. Any change to the SIS would mean by definition an amendment to the Schengen Convention. In the case of Europol and Eurojust, their participation would be achieved through the addition of two new articles (101A and 101B) to the Convention. This change would be made by means of the Council Decision which is currently under discussion.

  We understand that the Regulation and the Decision will be submitted for agreement at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 27-28 February and should therefore be grateful if the Committee were able to conclude scrutiny before then.

5 February 2003

Letter from the Chairman to Bob Ainsworth

  Thank you for your letter of 5 February, which Sub-Committee F (Social Affairs, Education and Home Affairs) considered on 12 February. The Committee also considered the Opinion of the Schengen Joint Supervisory Authority (JSA), which was not attached to your earlier letter of 12 December.

  The Committee is grateful for your clarification of the conditions of access by UK immigration authorities to Article 96 and 100 data. We also welcome your confirmation that the Schengen Convention will be amended by the proposed Decision, though it is not entirely clear whether there is an appropriate legal basis to allow SIS access to Europol and Eurojust. We would be grateful if you could confirm what the legal basis is.

  The Committee sees considerable force in the data protection concerns of the JSA. As the Committee has done in the past, the JSA highlights the need for data protection safeguards to govern access of Europol and Eurojust to the SIS.

  We note that the JSA Opinion indicates that the time limit of data retention under Article 103 has been substantially increased and finds such extension disproportionate.

  We would like to point out that, if it were not for the JSA opinion, we would not have been alerted to this development, as no amended drafts of the proposals have been submitted for scrutiny since July. In your letter of 12 December you said:

    "Revised versions of the documents which the Committee is holding under scrutiny will be submitted for agreement at the JHA Council on 19-20 December. I can confirm that the final texts will reflect the changes of which I have informed the Committee through this correspondence. I therefore do not intend to deposit these as there will be no substantive changes and I have kept the Committee fully informed of all issues arising with regard to these documents."

  However, it appears that this has not been the case regarding Article 103—which may have considerable implications for data protection. We note that a revised text of 26 November (9408/4/02 REV 4)—which contains this change—can be downloaded from the Council website, but was not submitted for scrutiny. In view of the failure to reach agreement in the November and December JHA Councils, it is probable that further revisions have been tabled for discussion.

  The Committee is conscious of the pressure to agree these measures as soon as possible, (although, contrary to what you say in your letter the documents do not appear on the draft agenda for the February JHA Council). But we would not be performing our scrutiny function properly if, prior to clearing the documents from scrutiny, we did not examine the latest version of the proposal and any significant changes it may contain. We will therefore continue to hold the documents under scrutiny.

17 February 2003

Letter from Bob Ainsworth to the Chairman

  I am grateful to the Committee for its letter of 7 February, which requested further clarification on certain issues, to which this letter provides a response.

Legal basis to allow SIS access to Europol and Eurojust

  You asked me to confirm the legal basis which would allow Europol and Eurojust access to the Schengen Information System (SIS).

  Article 5 of the Schengen Protocol provides that all development of the Schengen acquis should be "subject to the relevant provisions of the Treaties". The extension of access to the SIS by Europol and Eurojust is therefore based on Articles 30(1)(a) and (b) and 31(1)(a) and (b) which provide for the appropriate areas of police and judicial co-operation. This is based on the original purposes for the collection of SIS data provided for in Articles 95, 99 and 100 (Europol) and 95 and 98 (Eurojust) and in conformity with the performance of Europol's and Eurojust's authorised tasks. I can imagine that the Council will wish to consider expanding the Treaty references. In line with the inclusion of a specific legal base of Article 31.2 for Eurojust, incorporated into the Treaty on European Union by the Treaty of Nice.

Time limit of data retention under Article 103

  The Committee expressed concern that the JSA Opinion considers extension of the time limit for data retention under Article 103 disproportionate.

  The UK supported this change because it considered (as did the other EU Member States) that six months was too short a time period for retaining the data. Article 103 is designed to provide a means of monitoring the use of the system by authorised users. It is therefore important that such information is available for a reasonable amount of time for investigative/audit purposes. The maximum period was at the same time extended to three years so it would not conflict with some of the Member States' national legislation and practices.

  The original wording of Article 103 provided for, on average, every tenth transmission to be recorded and deleted after six months. It set no minimum period, so that some countries might choose to hold this information for a very short period and then delete it, making the process worthless. The UK holds PNC data for this purpose for one year and therefore the proposed change matches UK standards.

  The Government therefore considers that this proposal, plus the suggestion that every transmission be recorded, will considerably improve the monitoring of the use of the SIS data.

Latest version of the documents

  We note your concern about not having seen the latest amended drafts of the proposals. In the light of the latest round of official-level discussions we have now deposited the latest version of both texts (5606/1/03 SIRIS 8 Rev 1 and 5607/1/03 SIRIS 9 Rev 1, both of 20 February 2003) for scrutiny. An Explanatory Memorandum will follow shortly.

  At the time of my last letter to you, these documents were scheduled to have been discussed at the February JHA Council. Since then, however, it has been decided by the Greek Presidency to postpone discussion until the May JHA Council. The Departmental Scrutiny Co-ordinator has so informed the Clerks to the Committees. I hope that in the light of this additional information and the latest texts, the Committee will be able to conclude scrutiny of these proposals before then.

4 March 2003

Letter from the Chairman to Bob Ainsworth

  Sub-Committee F (Social Affairs, Education and Home Affairs) examined these proposals on 9 April, when it also considered your helpful letter of 4 March responding to a number of points that we had raised on the previous texts.

  We note that there is clearly a political will in the Council to extend the functions of the Schengen Information System and to facilitate the exchange of information between different EU bodies as well as between EU bodies and third countries. We have no objection of principle to such exchange of information, provided that, as our previous comments indicate, it has a sound legal base, is subject to proper data protection safeguards and there is adequate opportunity for parliamentary scrutiny.

  Against this background we remain concerned about the legal base for the current proposals. It is true that Article 5 of the Schengen Protocol, which you cite, enables amendment of the Schengen Convention as proposed. However, the broad drafting of this Article, as well as the Third Pillar provisions in the Treaty may, as the Scehngen Joint Supervisory Authority has noted, change fundamentally the scope of the Schengen Convention, which was drafted with Contracting States in mind. The current amendment will extend access to the Schengen database to bodies such as Europol and Eurojust, whose respective "founding" legal instruments (the Europol Convention and the Eurojust Decision) do not make provision for such a possibility.

  The absence of such a mandate is particularly striking in the case of Eurojust, given that Articles 26 and 27 of the Decision (adopted only last year) make detailed provision for relations and data exchange with other bodies, but make no mention of the Schengen Convention. The only provision that enables Eurojust access to SIS data appears to be an unpublished non-legally binding declaration annexed to the Eurojust Decision (which we have asked to see but have never received). An amendment to this Convention will lead to a significant change in the powers of Europol and Eurojust.

  On a specific textual point, we note that, while Article 27(1)(c) of the Eurojust Decision enables the exchange of data with authorities of third countries "competent for investigations and prosecutions", Article 101B2a of the draft Decision refers in general terms simply to "third States". This would appear to broaden the scope of the authorities which may receive Eurojust data.

  Otherwise we have little to add to the concerns that we have raised previously and we have decided to clear the documents from scrutiny. (We note that "political agreement" will be sought on the proposals in May.) However, the Committee would like to reaffirm the importance that we attach in this area to the principles of legal certainty, proper data protection standards and adequate parliamentary scrutiny referred to above; and we will continue to examine closely future proposals for the development of EU databases against them.

9 April 2003



 
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