Select Committee on European Scrutiny Seventh Report



Draft agreement between Europol and the United States of America.
Legal base:Articles 42, 10 and 18 of the Europol Convention and the Council Decision of 27 March 2000 authorising the Director of Europol to enter into negotiations on agreements with certain third states and non-EU related bodies; consultation ; unanimity
Deposited in Parliament: 1 November 2001
Department: Home Office
Basis of consideration: EM of 13 November 2001
Previous Committee Report: None
To be discussed in Council: December 2001
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: Cleared


26.1  In its Conclusions, the special Justice and Home Affairs Council on 20 September (which was called to discuss the EU response to the terrorist attacks on the USA of 11 September) invited the Director of Europol to "finalise the formal agreement with the United States as quickly as possible so that the Council may authorise its conclusion at its meeting on 16 November 2001".[73] In the event, the draft Agreement was not on the agenda for that Council, but it is still being accorded a high priority.

The draft Agreement

26.2  The purpose of the draft Agreement is to enhance the co-operation between the USA and Europol in combating serious forms of international crime which are within Europol's mandate, in particular through the exchange of strategic and technical information. Unlike any of the previous agreements we have considered,[74] this one specifically excludes the transmission of personal data. (The last sentence of Article 1 states: "This agreement does not authorise the transmission of data related to an identified individual or identifiable individuals.")

26.3  The agreement contains provisions for the identification of a national contact point, for the exchange of information and expertise, for regular consultation between the parties, and for the assignment of liaison officers, if required.

The Government's view

26.4  The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (Mr Bob Ainsworth) comments:

    "The Government considers that the agreement allowing exchanges of information between Europol and the United States of America is important in the fight against serious forms of international crime both within the EU and in countries outside the EU whose organised crime activity impacts upon the EU. The present agreement specifically excludes the exchange of personal data. The improvement of strategic links, and the potential for the exchange of liaison officers is considered important enough to conclude an agreement which does not include personal data. The next steps will include a study of the legal and data protection provisions of both parties, prior to the conclusion of an agreement in this area. However, that should not delay the exchange of information in the area of strategic and tactical information, as set out in the present agreement."

26.5  The Minister also tells us that the Belgian Presidency intends the Agreement to be concluded before the end of the year.


26.6  In our recent report on the draft Agreement between Europol and Interpol,[75] we said that we required sight of the relevant Joint Supervisory Board[76] Opinions before we could consider clearing any future draft agreements. We will make an exception in this case, since the Agreement specifically excludes the transmission of personal data. In our view, both the practicality and the value of omitting personal data transmission from the draft Agreement seem open to question. However, we note the Minister's comments about the importance of improved strategic links and the possibility of exchanging liaison officers.

26.7  We also note that an Agreement about the transmission of personal data is planned. We remind the Minister that we will require sight of the Joint Supervisory Board Opinion on that Agreement, together with a detailed Explanatory Memorandum. We ask to receive both in good time.

26.8  Meanwhile, we clear this document.

73  Section III, paragraph 5. Back

74  For example, (22217) - ; see HC 152-iv (2001-02), paragraph 6 (7 November 2001).  Back

75  (22214) - ; see HC 152-iv (2001-02), paragraph 6 (7 November 2001).  Back

76  The JSB monitors Europol's activities in relation to data protection issues. Back

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Prepared 3 December 2001