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Lord Triesman: I am delighted to hear that. The 1965 protocol on the privileges and immunities of the European Community conferred on the European communities a range of privileges and immunities considered necessary for the performance by the communities of their tasks and functions. Those privileges and immunities are similar to those conferred on other international organisations, and include immunity from jurisdiction, exemption from taxation, exemption from customs duties, and prohibitions and restrictions on importation and exportation of articles for official use.
The provisions of the 1965 protocol apply to the communities, their institutionsthe European Parliament, the Council, the Commission, the Court of Justice and the Court of Auditors, the European Central Bank, the European Monetary Institute and the European Investment Bankand, in accordance with the protocol, to certain representatives of member states and certain officials and servants of the communities. The provisions of the protocol have also been applied to bodies created under the Community and for certain officials and staff engaged in the work of such bodies. The 1965 protocol and the privileges and immunities flowing from it are given effect in UK law by the European Communities Act 1972, as I said a few moments ago, and the International Organisations Bill will not alter that situation.
The International Organisations Bill will, however, enable the UK to confer legal capacity and privileges and immunities on bodies established under powers conferred under Title Vprovisions on a common foreign and security policyand Title VIprovisions on police and judicial co-operation in criminal mattersof the Treaty on European Union and on certain categories of individuals connected with those bodies. At present three bodies exist on which the privileges and immunities will be conferred pursuant to Clause 5 of the International Organisations Bill, if it becomes an Act. I mentioned them a moment ago: ATHENA, the EU Satellite Centre and the Institute for Security Studies.
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The 1965 protocol on the privileges and immunities of the European Communities applies only to European institutions. The main institutions include the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Investment Bank. Examples of privileges and immunities under the 1965 protocol include immunity from jurisdiction, exemption from taxation and customs duties and prohibitions and restrictions on importation and exportation of articles for official use.
The International Organisations Bill will enable the UK to confer legal capacity and privileges and communities on bodies established under Title V and Title VIwhich I mentioned a few moments agoof the Treaty on European Union and certain categories of individuals connected with those entities. These bodies are not European Union institutions. The 1965 protocol does not apply to EU bodies unless an EU regulation expressly provides that the protocol will apply to a specific body. No provision is made by any EU regulations for the protocol to apply to the EU bodies in question. They are set up by decisions of the Council of Ministers. Member states reach unanimous agreements to establish these bodies and to agree privileges and immunities in order to allow the bodies to function properly. Where such an agreement is reached, the UK and all other member states are under a clear obligation to implement the agreement by conferring legal capacity and privileges and immunities on these bodies. As I say, three bodies currently exist on which these provisions have been conferred. I shall not discuss the nature of the three bodies as I believe we have covered that well enough. However, I hope that constitutes a full answer to the questions asked by the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, and that it will satisfy him.
The noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, asked about Europol. Under an order made by the Privy Council last December, so far as the officers of Europol are participating in investigations in this country, they do not enjoy privileges and immunities as Europol officers. That should alleviate the anxieties people who are concerned about that.
The noble Lord, Lord Roper, asked whether there should be different levels of diplomatic privileges and immunities for all EU bodies and whether we should grade them according to a set of criteria that he mentioned. I believe that there could be other such criteria. Some privileges and immunities are not given to all EU bodiesa point also made by the noble Lord, Lord Wallace. The privileges and immunities conferred on EU bodies will be dependent only on their functional need; that is, those privileges and immunities will be conferred that are necessary for them to function effectively and not otherwise. We certainly do not confer diplomatic levels of privileges and immunities on EU bodies and we do not intend to do so.
The powers to confer those immunities and other responsibilities have been looked at and are detailed, as several Members of the Committee have mentioned, in the report of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee. Members of the Committee have listened to a rather long response, which I hope has
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covered properly the very serious points that have been made. The report shows that there is no reason for anxiety about the way in which this Bill deals with those matters. It does not go beyond any international obligation, but it meets proper international obligations. I hope that in that light the noble Baroness will consider it appropriate to withdraw the amendment.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Perhaps, since Amendments Nos. 5, 6 and 7 are grouped here, it may be appropriate to say a little about Amendment No. 7 and to turn to some of the general points made by the noble Lord, Lord Triesman. Our concern about Clause 5, lines 24 to 30, precisely follows phrases, such as that in Clause 5(2)(b), which reads,
It is entirely justified for us to ask for more information about what privileges and immunities are appropriate and when, rather than to leave it to the Government to put them in. That is precisely why we are asking the Government to conduct a review of where we are.
It strengthens our case that the Government should rest their argument on a protocol that was agreed and signed by the original six members of a European Community that is now a 25-member European Union in 1965, when I was still in full-time education and my noble friend Lady Falkner was still in school. I shall not speculate on what the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, was up to in that period. It was 40 years ago.
The European Economic Community was a very small organisation with very limited competencies. It has grown in terms of policies, competencies and so forth enormously over 40 years. I would suggest that this is something that deserves to be looked at again. I understand that the European Commission has now started a review of its policy towards agencies because those agencies, under Titles I to III, are now proliferating. I had a very helpful conversation with one of the officials concerned with that review yesterday.
We are suggesting that Her Majesty's Government should contribute positively to that review and should look at the overall question of the way in which the European Commission and the various agencies, including those established under Clauses 5 and 6, relate to the national laws under which they operate.
I recall when I first began to study the European Community, which I regret to say was not quite 40 years ago but is getting on for that, that there was a duty free shop underneath the Berlaymont where Commission officials could go to buy cheap whisky and everything else. I think that I am right in saying that that has now disappeared, and quite rightly so. But there are some other things that again one wants to look at.
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I am always rather doubtful of the extent to which the European Commission, for example, imposes on applicant members of the European Union criteria for employment law and so forth that the Commission itself is not entirely subject to and does not entirely observe. So there are a range of questions that, as loyal members of the European Union, we and other governments and the European institutions should now, appropriately, ask. It is not only a question about the European Union. The Council of Europe and the OECD also seem to be bodies that operate among friendly countries, all of which are democracies, which do not need the same privileges and immunities as traditionally were established to formal international organisations 50 to 100 years ago. That is the case that we are making.
I understood from my conversation with an official of the Commission that one of the historical reasons for this is that a lot of these European bodies are in Belgium and Luxembourg and that large tax revenues would flow to Belgium and Luxembourg if they were to pay national taxation. There are other ways and means of dealing with that.
The issue of use of domestic resources and obligations clearly has to deal with. My wife tells me, for example, that one of the conditions of her place of work is that she is not allowed to use Italian national health facilities because she does not pay Italian tax. Those are anomalies that need to be looked at.
To come back to my personal situation, I do my best to persuade my friends and colleagues that, since I have to make the sacrifice, as I shall next weekend, of going to Florence every other weekend, my wife needs to be paid an allowance for her dependent spouse to do so. But the idea that going to Florence every other weekend is a sacrifice is a little different from my wife being a member of an organisation based in Tbilisi, for example, or somewhere else.
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