Letter from Mr Bob Ainsworth MP, Parliamentary
under Secretary of State, Home Office, to Lord Brabazon, Chairman
of the European Union Committee
DRAFT NEGOTIATING MANDATE WITH USA ON JUDICIAL
COOPERATION IN CRIMINAL MATTERS
This letter is to inform the Committee that
the Council has recently agreed a negotiating mandate for EU/US
co-operation under Article 24/38 of the Treaty on the European
The Action Plan adopted at the extraordinary
European Council meeting on 21 September 2001 provides for the
co-operation of the European Union with the United States in bringing
to justice and punishing the perpetrators, sponsors and accomplices
of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. At the Justice
and Home Affairs Council on 28 February 2002, the Council agreed
to proceed with this work and aimed for the adoption of the draft
mandate at the Justice and Home Affairs Council of 25 April 2002.
The draft mandate has now been agreed by Member States.
The negotiation is to build on agreements, conventions,
treaties, arrangements and any other legal framework on co-operation
in criminal matters, with a view to facilitating extradition in
connection with terrorism and mutual legal assistance between
the competent authorities of EU Member States and the USA.
The negotiations will focus on improving and
facilitating extradition and mutual legal assistance between the
EU and the US. Discussions on mutual legal assistance will focus
on improvements to co-operation in the area of investigations
into financial elements of serious crime, including organised
crime, terrorism and financial crime, improvements to practical
co-operation and the reduction of delays, videoconferencing and
improvement of investigation procedures. Improvements to extradition
procedures will be made by reducing delays in handling requests,
speciality and re-extradition.
The Government is keen to ensure that discussions
with the US focus on areas where an Article 24/38 Agreement can
add value over and above bi-lateral treaties or arrangements.
This includes areas where the UK has not experienced difficulties,
but where the European Union can add value to resolve problems
faced by individual Member States. However, it is important that
EU/US agreement does not prevent the continued use of bi-lateral
treaties where these are more advantageous than the EU/US agreement.
Given the mandate sets out the EU's approach
to the negotiations with the US it is a confidential document
and does not fall within the normal criteria for parliamentary
scrutiny. However, the agreement to result from those negotiations
will be submitted for parliamentary scrutiny when it is presented
to the Council with a proposal to conclude the agreement.
29 May 2002