Select Committee on European Scrutiny Ninth Report








Initiative of the Kingdom of Belgium and the Kingdom of Sweden with a view to adopting a Council Decision extending Europol's mandate to deal with the serious forms of crime listed in the Annex to the Europol Convention.

List of possible amendments to the Europol Convention.

Proposal for amendments to the Europol Convention.

Explanatory note to the proposal for amendments to the Europol Convention.

Procedure for amendment of the Europol Convention.

"I/A" item note on the Draft Council Decision extending Europol's mandate to deal with the serious forms of crime listed in the Annex to the Europol Convention.

Legal base: (a) Article 34(2)(c) EU and Articles 2 and 43 of the Europol Convention; consultation; unanimity

(b) to (f) —

Department: Home Office
Basis of consideration: EMs of 22 November and 4 December 2001
Previous Committee Report: None; but see (22598) 11282/01 (22724) 9093/4/01: HC 152-iii (2001-02), paragraph 13 (31 October 2001)
To be discussed in Council: 6-7 December 2001
Committee's assessment: Legally and politically important
Committee's decision: (All) cleared


  10.1  These documents deal with two main issues — the extension of Europol's mandate, and the amendment of the Europol Convention itself. In October, we cleared earlier versions of these documents,[32] but asked the Minister for his assurance that any formal proposal to amend the Europol Convention would be submitted for parliamentary scrutiny.

  10.2  At its meeting on 27-28 September, the Justice and Home Affairs Council agreed that discussions on amending the Europol Convention should continue. It also approved the extension of Europol's mandate, subject to the lifting of outstanding parliamentary reserves (the UK's among them) and the opinion of the European Parliament, which has now been received.

Extending the mandate: Documents (a) and (f)

  10.3  Documents (a) and (f) are concerned with the extension of Europol's mandate. Document (a) is the version of the draft Council Decision which was provisionally agreed at the 27-28 September Council. It extends Europol's mandate to deal with the serious forms of international crime listed in the annex to the Europol Convention. It also provides for the Council, acting unanimously, to decide priorities so that resources are not spread too thinly.

  10.4  Document (f) contains three declarations for adoption by the Council. The first states that the instruction for Europol to deal with "fraud", as one of the forms of crime which is referred to in the Annex to the Europol Convention, gives Europol competence merely in the field of improving the effectiveness and co-operation of the criminal law enforcement agencies of the Member States. It does not give Europol competence in relation to the authorities responsible for the levying of taxes and customs duties.

  10.5  The second declaration records the Council's agreement that the inclusion of fraud must also take account of OLAF's competence for fraud, and should therefore lead to the negotiation of an agreement between Europol and the Commission. The final declaration makes it clear that the term "organised theft" should also include "organised robbery". This resolves a difficulty encountered in some other language versions of the Annex to the Europol Convention.

Amending the Europol Convention — Documents (b) to (e)

  10.6  Document (b) proposes a list of amendments to be made to the Europol Convention. The list is prioritised under three headings: Tampere requirements; other priority items necessary to improve Europol's operation; and technical amendments.

  10.7  Document (c) contains a draft Article in respect of the first three priority items: Europol's competence; Europol's right to request Member States to start investigations; and the participation of Europol in joint investigation teams. The document explains that the Presidency did not have enough time to address more than these three items. In addition, it was considered that the others could be dealt with under a simplified procedure. Document (d) is simply an Explanatory Note prepared to accompany document (c).

  10.8  Document (e) proposes a simplified procedure for amending the Convention, as flagged up in documents (b) and (c). Currently, amendments need to be ratified in all Member States before they enter in to force. The Presidency suggests changing Article 43 (1) of the Convention to establish a legal basis for adoption of amendments by simplified procedure. The following wording for a new Article 43 (1) is proposed:

"The Europol Convention can be amended by a Council Decision as mentioned in Article 34(2)(c) of the Treaty on European Union and in accordance with the procedure laid down in Title VI of the Treaty of European Union after obtaining the opinion of the Management Board and, as far as it relates to its competencies, the Joint Supervisory Body."

  10.9  The document explicitly states that the simplified procedure would not preclude national parliaments from exercising scrutiny of any decisions on proposed amendments to be taken by the Council.

The Government's view

  10.10  The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (Mr Bob Ainsworth) comments on the proposals as follows:

"The Government supports the widening of Europol's mandate so that it can focus on the full range of criminal activities of organised crime groups. The document also attaches importance to ensuring that Europol appropriately prioritises its activities.

"The Government also supports further consideration being given to improving the operation of the Europol Convention and to making it a more flexible instrument, more easily amendable in the future, in line with the forthcoming Council Decision establishing Eurojust."

  10.11  The Minister tells us that the Presidency hopes that agreement will be concluded at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 6 and 7 December.


  10.12  We have no problems with most of these documents, which do not make significant changes to those we have cleared already. However, the proposal in document (e) for a simplified procedure for amending the Europol Convention would, if agreed, constitute a significant change. We are content to clear the present document, since it is merely a Presidency note, but we shall certainly wish to submit any proposal for legislation arising from it to careful scrutiny.

  10.13  Meanwhile, we clear all the documents.

32  (22598) 11282/01 (22724) 9093/4/01; see headnote to this paragraph. Back

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 18 December 2001