Select Committee on European Scrutiny Twenty-Seventh Report






Initiative by the Kingdom of Spain for the adoption of a Council Decision on the introduction of a standard form for exchanging information on terrorists.

Legal base:

Articles 29, 31(e) and 34(2)(b) EU; consultation; unanimity


Deposited in Parliament:

11 April 2002


Home Office

Basis of consideration:

EM of 16 April 2002

Previous Committee Report:


To be discussed in Council:

Date not set

Committee's assessment:

Politically important

Committee's decision:

Not cleared; further information requested



The document

  6.1  This draft Decision proposes the introduction of a standard form for exchanging information about terrorists. Article 1 states that it will be "a useful tool in preventing activities carried out by terrorist organisations to achieve their criminal aims at large international events". Article 4 states that the draft Decision "refers to members of actual organised groups run by terrorist organisations for the purpose of achieving their own destabilisation and propaganda aims. The information exchanged must not relate to persons who exercise their own constitutional rights set out in Article 6 TEU". Article 5 provides for the "BDL Network" to serve for the exchange of data. It states that the information will be confidential.

  6.2  An annex to the document contains the template or standard form. It appears to be intended for use in relation to a specific event, and lists such items as "passport number", "violent acts" and "scars". Space is provided for a photograph and fingerprint.

  6.3  The cover note from the Working Party on Terrorism to the Article 36 Committee[5] indicates that the Netherlands delegation, supported by some others, considers that the description of those covered by the document (which refers to the definition in the Framework Decision on terrorism[6]) is too vague.

The Government's view

  6.4  In his Explanatory Memorandum, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (Mr Bob Ainsworth) tells us:

"This has been a fluid proposal subject to numerous and frequent amendment. The latest version of the document is the first to offer any kind of stability."

He says that the proposal is consistent with the UK's commitment to sharing information on known terrorists with other EU Member States, and that there are no major policy implications. The proposal was scheduled for agreement at the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 25 and 26 April.


  6.5  We are pleased that this document was not, in the event, on the agenda of last week's Justice and Home Affairs Council, since we have not had enough information to assess it properly. It is surprising to learn that it is a "revised version of a proposal", both because it is the first version we have seen and because it does not appear to be very well thought through.

  6.6  To scrutinise it fully, we need to know more about the context. We ask whether the proposed form is a refinement of an existing procedure for exchanging information, or whether the exchange of information itself is new and the form simply a means of facilitating it. We also ask for information about the remit and membership of the "BDL Network".

  6.7  We share the concern of the Netherlands delegation about the vagueness of the definitions. We ask what is to prevent the form being used for "persons who exercise their own constitutional rights set out in Article 6 TEU"and whether the statement that the information will be "confidential" provides sufficient data protection.

  6.8  We will keep the document under scrutiny until we have further information about it.


5  The Committee of senior officials (as provided for in Article 36 EU) which co-ordinates activities under Title VI EU (i.e. provisions on police and judicial co-operation in criminal matters). Back

6  (22925) 12647/01; see HC 152-x (2001-02), paragraph 4 (12 December 2001).  Back

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