Select Committee on European Scrutiny Second Report


Letter from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (Mr Bob Ainsworth) to the Chairman of the Committee


I am writing to report the outcome of the Special Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting on 13 July 2001. This Council was called to discuss the security at meetings of the European Council and other comparable events, in light of events at Gothenburg on 15 and 16 June 2001. I represented the United Kingdom.

"A" points adopted at JHA Council

There were no Justice and Home Affairs "A" points on the agenda of this Council.

Points for discussion

There was only one point for discussion, which concerned policing of summits in the light of events at Gothenburg.

Member States confirmed that citizens have a right freely to express their opinions and to assemble in a peaceful manner, rights that are reflected in the European Convention on Human Rights. Assemblies should be conducted in a manner where there was no threat to demonstrators' own security or to that of other citizens or property. Organised acts of violence initiated, planned and carried out to coincide with public demonstrations were deplored by the Council and Member States.

The Council and Member States stressed the need for dialogue with non-governmental organisations, social partners, civil society, the organisers of public demonstrations and the authorities of the host country.

A set of operational measures was agreed. These include a European network of police contacts, use of police spotters, possible extension of Europol's remit to address violent groups, better training in the Police College Network framework, rapid and more systematic exchange of intelligence, use of all available legal means to prevent travel of those suspected of planning violent disorder, and swifter judicial assistance and prosecution.

The conclusions recognise the significant contribution expected from the Police Chiefs Task Force, as proposed by the United Kingdom.

A copy of the Council Conclusions (document 10916/01 JAI 82) is enclosed.

I am writing in similar terms to Lord Brabazon of Tara, Chairman of the European Union Select Committee in the House of Lords, and I am copying this letter to Dorian Gerhold, Clerk of the European Scrutiny Committee, and Dr Christopher Johnson, Clerk of the European Union Select Committee.

31 July 2001

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