Select Committee on European Scrutiny Twelfth Report


COM(01) 157

(i) Draft Council Regulation amending Regulation 1683/95 laying down a
uniform format for visas.

(ii) Draft Council Regulation on a uniform format for forms for affixing the
visa issued by Member States to persons holding travel documents which are
not recognised by the Member State drawing up the form.

(iii) Draft Council Regulation laying down a uniform format for residence
permits for third-country nationals.

Legal base:(i) and (ii): Article 62(2)(b)(iii) EC; consultation; qualified majority of the participating States
(iii) : Article 63(3) EC; consultation; unanimity of the participating States
Document originated:23 March 2001
Forwarded to the Council: 26 March 2001
Deposited in Parliament: 10 April 2001
Department:Home Office
Basis of consideration: Minister's letter of 11 December 2001 (received 14 January 2002)
Previous Committee Report: HC 152-i (2001-02), paragraph 9 (18 July 2001)
To be discussed in Council: No date set
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:Cleared


  14.1  This document contains three proposals, all concerned with harmonising the security standards of travel documents. When we considered it in July, we asked to be kept informed of progress, especially in relation to the Government's decision about whether or not to opt in to any or all of the proposals. We also wished to know the outcome of discussions about whether or not proposal (iii) was considered to be a development of the Schengen acquis[32]. We kept the document under scrutiny.

The Minister's letter

  14.2  The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (Angela Eagle) has now responded in a letter dated 11 December but not received until 14 January 2002. She apologises for the delay in providing the information we had requested, explaining that discussions have been ongoing.

  14.3  She tells us that the Government opted in to the three proposals in July, considering that they were consistent with UK frontiers and immigration control. In her view, there is positive value in UK participation: the measures will enhance the security of documents used for third country nationals entering the UK, without affecting the Government's ability to control third country nationals.

  14.4  In relation to the outcome of discussions about document (iii), the Minister confirms that there was a lack of clarity about whether it was a Schengen development measure. The 10th Recital said that it was, but the statement relating to Denmark in the Commission's Explanatory Memorandum said that it was not. The Commission has now admitted that this was an error, and an 11th Recital has been inserted, stating that with regard to Denmark the Regulation does build on the Schengen acquis. The Regulation is, therefore, proceeding on the basis that it is a development of the Schengen acquis.


  14.5  We do not understand the delay in providing us with at least some of the information we sought (quite apart from the late arrival of the Minister's letter). It must have been possible to let us know last summer of the Government's decision to participate in the draft Regulations. We remind the Minister of her undertaking to provide the Committee with either a full response in three weeks or an explanation as to why a full reply cannot be provided within that timescale, together with an indication of when she expects to send a final response.[33]

  14.6  Nevertheless, her response is helpful and we now clear the document.

32  The Schengen acquis is the collective term for the intricate body of rules governing the Schengen free movement area.  Back

33  Letter to the Chairman of 6 September 2001. Back

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