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
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.
The position in relation to Ireland has not
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