POSSIBLE AMENDMENTS TO THE EUROPOL CONVENTION
AND POSSIBLE EXTENSIONS OF EUROPOL'S MANDATE
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.
||(a) Article 34(2)(c) EU and Articles 2 and 43 of the Europol Convention; consultation; unanimity
(b) to (f)
|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
||Legally and politically important
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,
but asked the Minister for his assurance that any formal proposal
to amend the Europol Convention would be submitted for parliamentary
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
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