EUROPEAN NETWORK FOR THE PROTECTION OF
Initiative of the Kingdom of Spain setting up a European network for the
protection of public figures.
European network for the protection of public figures - text resulting from the
proceedings of the Working Party on Police Co-operation (5 and 6 February
|Legal base:||Articles 29, 30(1) and 34(2)(c) EU; consultation; unanimity
|Deposited in Parliament:
||(a) 11 February 2002
(b) 5 March 2002
|Basis of consideration:
||EM of 27 March 2002|
|Previous Committee Report:
||(a) HC 152-xx (2001-02), paragraph 11 (6 March 2002)
|To be discussed in Council:
|Committee's assessment:||Politically important
|Committee's decision:||(a) Cleared
(b) Not cleared; further information requested.
8.1 This is a new Presidency proposal for a Council Decision
to address the threat of assassination and attacks on dignitaries
visiting Member States by setting up a network of contact points
within national police departments. When we considered document
(a) in March, we decided not to clear it until we knew whether
the Government had succeeded in removing or clarifying Article
3 (d), which would give the network a remit in relation to approximating
rules and regulations in the Member States, and in ensuring that
visiting dignitaries would not be accompanied by armed officials
from their own country.
8.2 The Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State at the
Home Office (Mr Bob Ainsworth) has now deposited a later version
of the proposal (document (b)), together with an Explanatory Memorandum
which responds to the issues we raised, as well as addressing
the new document.
The new document and the Government's view
8.3 Two changes have been made to parts of the text about
which we had concerns. Firstly, the Network's objective as stated
in the original Article 3 (d) of "approximating the existing
rules and regulations in each Member State" has been replaced
by one of "studying the existing rules and regulations in
each Member State with the aim of developing a set of common good
practices". The Minister tells us that the Government will
confirm in negotiations that any proposals by the Network will
be agreed at the Council of Ministers before formal adoption.
8.4 Secondly, the original Article 4 (c), which gave
the Network competence to "outline the conditions for provision
of service by officials with responsibility for the protection
of a public figure of one Member State when they are in or enter
another Member State" is omitted from the new version. The
"The Government will wish to maintain the current arrangements
whereby in the UK visiting dignitaries are provided armed officials
of the host country in preference to their own whenever such measures
are deemed necessary. The primary consideration is that individuals
are provided the appropriate level of protection according to
their individual threat."
8.5 The Minister tells us that the Government will seek
to replace the word "determine" with the word "recommend"
in Article 4 (b). In the current text, this Article gives the
Network competence to "determine the minimum number
of armed officials according to the public figure involved and
the resources to be deployed". The Minister continues:
"It is not entirely clear whether 'the minimum number
of armed officials' relates to the physical needs of the individual
protected, or to the operational and security requirements of
the protecting officials; we will seek to clarify the text. The
minimum number of bodyguards necessary for an individual will
be dependent on the person in question and the circumstances in
which they are placed. The primary consideration will continue
to be for the safety of the individual."
8.6 The Minister also tells us that the Government will
seek assurances about the nature of the information to be exchanged
within the Network, and about compliance with the Council of Europe
Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic
Processing of Personal Data (28 January 1981).
8.7 Commenting generally on the draft measure, the Minister
"The Government supports the aim underpinning the proposals
to protect individuals from attack. The Network would be a mechanism
for sharing best practice and raising standards EU-wide. The UK
has an excellent record of protecting public figures which it
is willing to share."
8.8 We note that the Minister expresses more enthusiasm
for the proposal than in his previous Explanatory Memorandum.
8.9 Although we are pleased to see that the Network
is no longer given a remit in relation to approximating rules
and regulations in the Member States, we find the Minister's statement
that any proposals by the Network will be agreed at the Council
of Ministers somewhat confusing. We ask him to confirm that the
Network will have no power to initiate legislation.
8.10 Similarly, we find the Minister's comments with
regard to visiting dignitaries being accompanied by armed officials
from their own country somewhat opaque. We ask him to confirm
that there is no question of a change to our domestic legislation
in this area.
8.11 We clear document (a) as it has now been superseded,
but will keep document (b) under scrutiny until we have the Minister's
assurance on the two points above.