Select Committee on European Scrutiny Seventh Report




Explanatory Report for the agreement on co-operation in proceedings
for road traffic offences and the enforcement of financial penalties
imposed in respect thereof.

Initiative of the Federal Republic of Germany for a Council act
establishing an agreement on co-operation between the Member States
of the European Union in proceedings for road traffic offences and the
enforcement of financial penalties.

Legal base: (b) Articles 31(a) and 34(2)(d) EU; consultation; unanimity
Deposited in Parliament: (b) 19 April 2001
Department: Home Office
Basis of consideration: EM of 12 November and Minister's letter of 14 November 2001
Previous Committee Report: (a) HC 34-xxviii (1998-99), paragraph 20 (20 October 1999)
To be discussed in Council: None planned
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: (Both) Cleared, but further information requested


14.1  These documents are both concerned with enforcing financial penalties resulting from road traffic offences committed by EU citizens and residents in an EU Member State other than their own.

Document (a)

14.2  Document (a) is the Explanatory Note for the Schengen Agreement on co-operation in proceedings for road traffic offences and the enforcement of financial penalties imposed in respect thereof which was adopted at the final meeting of the Schengen Executive Committee in April 1999. Although the Agreement was not binding on the UK, since it was concluded before the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam, the Government announced its intention of applying to participate in the Agreement, and in negotiations on the Explanatory Note.

14.3  When the previous Committee considered document (a), in October 1999, it decided to retain the scrutiny reserve until there was more information about the process of negotiations.

Document (b)

14.4  Document (b), which was deposited in April, is a German proposal designed to replace the Agreement on co-operation in proceedings for road traffic offences and the enforcement of financial penalties imposed in respect thereof. In his Explanatory Memorandum, the Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State at the Home Office (Mr Bob Ainsworth) tells us that the Agreement was never implemented, since it was considered that it could not be directly incorporated into the Schengen acquis as it also applied to Iceland and Norway.

14.5  The proposal sets out the circumstances in which transfer of enforcement may be requested, and those in which requests may be refused. It also provides for the amendment of the minimum amount to be enforced. Article 24 extends the scope of the Agreement to Norway and Iceland.

The Government's views

14.6  In his Explanatory Memorandum of 12 November, the Minister tells us:

    "In principle, the Government supports the aims of the draft Agreement. It will be useful in improving road safety across the EU and ensuring that drivers who infringe road traffic laws of other EU Member States do not escape punishment by returning to their state of nationality or residence. Further, the Government considers that the instrument's aims are broadly consistent with the principle of mutual recognition; indeed, the draft Agreement corresponds to Measure 17 of the Programme of Measures to implement the principle of mutual recognition [of decisions in criminal matters][55].

    "The Government considers that the draft Agreement provides appropriate safeguards for defendants... The Government notes, however, that Article 8(1)(a) introduces the principle of dual criminality; the Government considers that dual criminality requirements are not compatible with the principle of mutual recognition."

14.7  The Minister reports that the Belgian Presidency has decided to give priority to the draft Framework Decision on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to financial penalties[56] over the German proposal.


14.8  It is unacceptable that the previous Committee's request for information, which was made over two years ago, has not been met until now — and then in an Explanatory Memorandum on another document which was deposited over six months ago. We recognise that the failure to implement the Schengen Agreement and the lack of priority accorded to the successor proposal may have made the need to respond to the Committee seem less urgent. Nevertheless, the Committee should have been kept informed of the situation. We demand that the Minister explain the delay in relation to both documents.

14.9  In relation to the proposals themselves, document (a) has been rendered redundant by the decision not to implement the Schengen Agreement. Document (b), which may, or may not, finally arrive on a Council agenda, appears to be a satisfactory replacement for the earlier text. We are therefore content to clear both documents.

55  (21783) 9737/5/00; see HC 23-xxx (1999-2000), paragraph 7 (22 November 2000). Back

56  (22622) 10710/01; the Committee is to consider this document at its meeting on 28 November 2001 Back

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