Select Committee on European Scrutiny First Report




Presidency note on possible amendments to the Europol Convention and possible extensions of Europol's competence.

Presidency note on possible amendments to the Europol Convention and possible extensions of Europol's competence.

Legal base:
Department: Home Office
Basis of consideration: Minister's letter of 3 May 2001
Previous Committee Report: HC 28-vii (2000-01), paragraph 9 (28 February 2001)
To be discussed in Council: No date set
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: (Both) Cleared


33.1  Document (a) is a note from the Swedish Presidency to the Article 36 Committee,[54] inviting discussion on whether the Europol Convention should be amended, and putting forward proposals for its amendment. It also asks for the question of extending Europol's competence to be discussed, and suggests some options. Document (b), another Presidency note, reports the outcomes of the Article 36 meeting.

33.2  When the previous Committee considered these documents (in February) it raised a number of questions on them. The then Minister of State at the Home Office (Mrs Barbara Roche) responded on 3 May — just too late for the previous Committee to consider her letter before the dissolution of Parliament.

The Minister's letter

33.3  The previous Committee hoped that the proposed amendment to the Europol Convention would offer the opportunity to develop appropriate rules and conditions for the operation of joint teams. It asked, in particular, if the Government would press for questions about the role and liability of Europol officers to be addressed in any new Article on joint teams. In reply, the then Minister says:

    "The Government will continue to negotiate on the basis that there must be certainty and clarity in the legal provisions and the rules for operating them. It will not be helpful if, because of doubts about roles and liabilities of Europol officers, joint teams with Europol support are not established to meet serious organised crime threats...The Government will also take the opportunity which amendment of the Europol Convention would provide to recommend that consideration be given to confirming that Europol may support joint investigation teams involving countries with which Europol has a third country agreement."

33.4  The previous Committee also asked about the implications of the Government's view that Europol's competence should complement parallel discussions on Eurojust's competence. The then Minister explains:

    "The Government is negotiating on the basis that Europol's intelligence would inform Eurojust, but not be its sole source of information. In particular, Eurojust's competence would not, on present expectations, be confined to organised crime matters. The Government is also negotiating on the basis that, as far as organised crime is concerned, both Europol and Eurojust must be in a position to respond to threats from organised criminal groups which are engaged in a range of organised crimes, not all of which are necessarily covered by Europol's existing mandate. Accordingly, while we do not see the need for Europol and Eurojust to be developed along precisely matching lines, we are negotiating in relation to both bodies in the context of a co-ordinated strategy."

33.5  Finally, the previous Committee drew attention to the Government's earlier view that Europol should demonstrate that it could meet Member States' expectations in relation to its existing mandate before the mandate was further widened. It asked whether that view had changed. The then Minister responds:

    "The Government has concluded...that it is not necessarily helpful to have a mandate which is subject to incremental extensions and which may in fact be an undesirable constraining factor in certain circumstances....Europol has also found out that intelligence might not always be supplied to Europol because of concerns that the crime to which the intelligence relates might not fall squarely within the mandate. There is also concern that Europol might not be able to provide adequate support in protecting the euro because assistance would be limited to counterfeiting and money laundering offences. In all the circumstances, the Government has concluded that there would be merit in considering with our EU partners a widening of the mandate to all the organised crimes in the Annex to the Convention and indeed further, to cover all organised crimes."

33.6  The Minister reiterates, however, the Goverment's concern that Europol's activities should be appropriately prioritised.


33.7  It is disappointing that the then Minister took two months to respond to the previous Committee, with the result that it was not able to consider her letter before the dissolution of Parliament. Nevertheless, her reply is full and helpful, particularly in respect of the Government's view of the widening of Europol's mandate.

33.8  We are pleased to learn that the Government will press for clear provisions about the role and liability of Europol officers operating in joint teams.

33.9  We clear both the documents.

54  The Committee of senior officials (as provided for in Article 36 EU) which co-ordinates activities under Title VI EU (i.e. provisions on police and judicial co-operation in criminal matters). Back

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