Select Committee on European Scrutiny First Report



Initiative by the Government of the French Republic for a draft Council Decision on the protection of the euro against counterfeiting

Legal base: Articles 31 and 34(2)(c) EU; consultation; unanimity
Department: Home Office
Basis of consideration: Minister's letters of 11 May and 6 June 2001
Previous Committee Report: HC 28-viii (2000-01), paragraph 7 (14 March 2001)
Discussed in Council: 28-29 May 2001
Committee's assessment: Legally and politically important
Committee's decision: Cleared


23.1  When the previous Committee considered this proposal, in March, it reported that various aspects needed further work or clarification before it could feel confident in clearing it. It raised a number of points with the then Minister of State at the Home Office (Mrs Barbara Roche). She did not reply until 11 May — too late for the Committee to consider her response before the dissolution of Parliament.

23.2  The then Minister also wrote on 6 June reporting on the discussion of this proposal, among others, at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 28-29 May.

The Minister's letter of 11 May

23.3  In her letter, the then Minister addressed the issues raised by the previous Committee. The first of these related to the Committee's concern (shared by the Government) that negotiation of the proposal should keep in step with negotiations over the establishment of Eurojust. In response, the Minister says:

    "Article 4 (2) has been amended to provide that Member States shall, where appropriate, make use of Eurojust's facilities in accordance with the provisions laid down in the instrument establishing it. The Government considers that this provision ensures that the draft Council Decision will be subject to the mechanisms by which Eurojust operates."

23.4  Most of the Committee's concerns related to Article 5, which requires Member States to recognise final sentences handed down in other Member States. The Minister responds to the points of detail before reporting that the Presidency had agreed to delete the Article from the draft Decision and reformat it as a framework decision. This was in line with the Government's view that, as the relevant legal base for adopting Council Decisions (Article 34(2)(c) EU) specifically excludes approximation measures, Article 5 (an approximation measure) should not form part of the current proposal.

23.5  Finally, the previous Committee asked about the Government's conclusions on the implications of the European Convention on Human Rights for mutual recognition of final decisions. The Minister replies that the Government's view has not changed; it considers that the way forward lies in examining the human rights implications of individual measures as they are negotiated.

The Minister's letter of 6 June

23.6  In her letter on the outcome of the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 28-29 May, the then Minister reports:

    "The Council reached provisional agreement on the draft Decision on protection of the euro against counterfeiting. The United Kingdom retained its parliamentary scrutiny reservation. The European Parliament will be reconsulted as a result of the changes to the initial proposal. It was agreed that Article 5 of the draft Decision, on the recognition of previous convictions, should be removed from the Decision and reformatted as a separate framework decision."


23.7  We note with disappointment that it took the former Minister almost two months to respond to the previous Committee, with the result that her letter could not be considered before the dissolution of Parliament. We are, however, pleased that the Government retained the parliamentary scrutiny reserve at the Council.

23.8  With the deletion of Article 5, the most problematic elements have disappeared for the time being, although we note that they will reappear in a framework decision. We are now in a position to clear the draft Decision.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 30 July 2001