LEGALLY AND POLITICALLY IMPORTANT: NOT CLEARED
MEMBER STATES' OBLIGATION TO TRANSMIT
INFORMATION ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION AND FACILITATOR NETWORKS
Proposal by the Federal Republic of Germany for the adoption of a Council Resolution on Member States' obligation to transmit information on illegal immigration and facilitator networks in connection with participation in the CIREFI early warning system.
||Articles 63(3)(b) and 66 EC; consultation; unanimity
|Deposited in Parliament:
||19 December 2000|
|Basis of consideration:
||EM of 9 January 2001
|Previous Committee Report:
||None; but see (21516) 10017/00: HC 23-xxix (1999-2000), paragraph 24 (15 November 2000)
|To be discussed in Council:
||No date set|
||Legally and politically important
||Not cleared; further information requested
4.1 This proposal builds on the French Presidency's
Action Plan to improve the control of immigration,
which we cleared in November. That document found that insufficient
use was being made of the voluntary early warning system (EWS)
which had been set up, under the German Presidency, as part of
CIREFI (the Centre for Information, Discussion and Exchange on
the crossing of frontiers and immigration). EWS was intended to
provide for the immediate transmission of information on illegal
immigration and facilitator networks.
4.2 The current proposal aims to make the
exchange of information compulsory. It lists the information that
is to be exchanged, and requires Member States to take any necessary
measures, and inform other States about these. It states that
the information will relate to non-personal data.
4.3 Candidate states for EU accession, together
with Iceland and Norway, may take part in the EWS under certain
conditions, "on an informal basis"(paragraph 7).
4.4 Paragraph 10 provides for the transmitted
information "to be centralised and annotated by the General
Secretariat of the Council in close collaboration with the Presidency".
The Government's view
4.5 The Minister of State at the Home Office
(Mrs Barbara Roche) tells us that the Government supports initiatives
to improve the early warning system, to which it is committed.
However, it would wish to see a more fundamental review of the
system before it could agree to making it compulsory.
4.6 In that context, the Minister points
out that, although the proposal has a formal legal base and purports
to impose obligations on Member States, it is described as a Resolution.
If, as seems more logical, it were to be recast as a Decision,
the Government would have to decide whether or not to exercise
its opt-in (under the Protocol on the position of the United
Kingdom and Ireland).
4.7 The Minister also tells us that her
officials are considering whether Ministerial authorisation under
the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 is needed to enable the
UK to participate fully in the EWS, whether under the current
voluntary scheme or the proposed compulsory version.
4.8 In its present form, this is a confusing
proposal. As the Minister points out, although it is framed as
a non-binding Resolution it appears to impose obligations and
requirements on Member States. Moreover, although the subject
matter of the Resolution falls within Community competence, there
is no mention of the Commission and no role apparently envisaged
for it. Nor is it clear how the non-European Union States can
be involved "on an informal basis". In relation to the
United Kingdom, the Minister does not explain why authorisation
under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 may be necessary.
4.9 We therefore ask the Minister:
1 why no role for the Commission is identified
in the proposal, and whether she is content with the omission;
2 what she considers is meant by the possibility
of participation by the candidate countries and Iceland and Norway
"on an informal basis"; and
3 why Ministerial authorisation under the
Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 may be necessary.
4.10 We will hold the document under
scrutiny until we have the Minister's response, and until we know
more about the final form of the proposal and any consequential
United Kingdom decision about participation.
11 (21516) 10017/00; see headnote to this paragraph. Back