TRANSMISSION OF PERSONAL DATA BY EUROPOL
TO THIRD STATES AND BODIES
(and COR 1)
Initiative of the Kingdom of Sweden with a view to the adoption of a Council Act amending the Council Act of 12 March 1999 adopting the rules governing the transmission of personal data by Europol to third States and third bodies.
Council Act amending the Council Act of 12 March 1999 adopting the rules governing the transmission of personal data by Europol to third States and third bodies.
|Legal base:||Article 18(2) of the Europol Convention; consultation; unanimity
|Forwarded to the Council:||(a) 21 May 2001
(b) 4 December 2001
|Deposited in Parliament:||(a) and (b) 31 January 2002
|Basis of consideration:||Minister's letter of 1 February 2002 and EM of 31 January 2002
|Previous Committee Report:||None
|To be discussed in Council:||28 February 2002
|Committee's assessment:||Politically important
|Committee's decision:||(Both) Cleared
14.1 The Council Act of 12 March 1999
adopted the rules governing the transmission of personal data
by Europol to third States and third bodies. In July 1998, our
sister Committee in the House of Lords published a report on the
four sets of rules governing the relations of Europol with third
States and bodies.
In the report, the Committee criticises the Government for not
having provided three of the sets of rules (including those governing
the transmission of personal data by Europol to third States and
third bodies) for scrutiny in advance of their agreement. (At
this time, our terms of reference did not allow us to scrutinise
third pillar proposals.)
The Minister's letter
14.2 The Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State at the
Home Office (Mr Bob Ainsworth) has sent us a letter with his Explanatory
Memorandum, apologising for the delay in depositing the documents.
"The original initiative was launched under the Swedish Presidency
in late May 2001. As a result of an internal administrative error
these papers were marked down as not subject to Parliamentary
Scrutiny. Discussion of these points during a working group meeting
on 3 September 2001 led us to believe that a further redrafting
would take place, after which scrutiny would then be addressed.
This did not happen, and the measures were sidelined by the need
to focus on responses to the events of 11 September. It was only
when detailed enquiries were made in the last few days, in order
to clear this initiative, that it was revealed that scrutiny had
not been addressed."
14.3 Document (b) is the proposed Council Act amending
the Council Act of 1999. Document (a) contains the correspondence
between the Europol Management Board and the Joint Supervisory
Body (JSB) on the draft amendments. (The JSB monitors the activities
of Europol in relation to data protection issues.)
14.4 The purpose of the amendments is to allow, in certain
circumstances, for data transmitted from Europol to a third body
to be transmitted onwards to a third State or body. At present,
the rules prohibit such onward transmission, which causes problems
for third bodies which do not or cannot undertake their own data
14.5 Amendments to three Articles in the Council Act
of 1999 are proposed. First, additional wording to Article 4 provides
for the Director of Europol to inform the Management Board and
the JSB without undue delay of any decision to allow outward transmission
of personal data, and to give the reasons for the decision.
14.6 Secondly, two additions are proposed to Article
5 (5) which currently provides that Europol shall transmit data
to a competent authority of a third State or to a third body only
if that authority or body agrees that it will not communicate
the data to other third States or bodies. The additions both provide
for outward transmission in certain circumstances. The first provides
for such transmission with the prior consent of Europol in cases
where the third State or body receiving the data has concluded
an agreement with Europol on the transmission of personal data,
including data from onward transmission. The second allows the
Director of Europol to authorise onward transmission of data in
emergency situations. Even in such situations, however, account
must be taken of the law and the administrative practice of the
third State or non EU- related body in the field of data protection.
In all cases of onward transmission, the consent of the Member
State which originally provided Europol with the data must be
obtained before transmission, and the Director must state why
the data was transmitted via a third body rather than directly.
14.7 Finally, a new Article (8a) is appended to Article
8, at the request of the JSB. This provides for the rules to be
evaluated as from 1 January 2004 under the supervision of the
Management Board, which is to obtain an Opinion from the JSB.
14.8 Document (a) comprises five pieces of correspondence
between the Europol Management Board and the JSB about document
(b). In spelling out the proposed amendments to the JSB, the Management
Board makes it clear that serious cases of counterfeiting the
euro would be considered to constitute emergencies and hence could
trigger onward transmission. Following comments from the JSB,
the Management Board amended document (b) and added the new Article
about evaluation. The JSB now finds the amendments acceptable.
The Government's view
14.9 The Minister tells us that the amendments properly
address the concerns which were originally raised by the JSB.
He considers that they strike the right balance between the need
for a strong data protection regime and the need to be able to
respond to exceptional circumstances.
14.10 We note with disappointment a further instance
of delay from the Home Office. Although we accept that administrative
oversight was to blame, there are unfortunate echoes of the earlier
failure to provide our sister Committee with the original versions
of the rules. We take the opportunity to emphasise the importance
we place on these rules and to ask that special care be taken
in future to deposit any amendments in good time.
14.11 It is encouraging to see that the Management
Board took account of the Opinion of the Joint Supervisory Body
(JSB) in its framing of the amendments, and we are pleased that
the rules are to be evaluated.
14.12 Given the JSB's favourable Opinion, we clear
C88/1, 30.3.99. Back
Third Country Rules: Twenty-ninth
Report from the Select Committee on the European Communities,
HL Paper 135(1997-98). Back
the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam in May 1999, all
justice and home affairs matters were dealt with under the "third
pillar" of the EU. Back