Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Ninth Report





Initiative of the Federal Republic of Germany for a Council Directive on assistance in cases of transit for the purposes of expulsion by air.

Legal base:

Article 63(3)(b) EC; consultation; unanimity


Document originated:

27 June 2002

Deposited in Parliament:

12 September 2002


Home Office

Basis of consideration:

EM of 24 September 2002

Previous Committee Report:

None; but see (20081) 7264/99: HC 34-xxii (1998-99), paragraph 18 (16 June 1999)

To be discussed in Council:

Date not yet set

Committee's assessment:

Politically important

Committee's decision:

Not cleared; further information requested



    1. The proposal is concerned with transit arrangements for third country aliens being expelled by air from a Member State. It was originally submitted as a draft Joint Action by the German Presidency in late April 1999. At that time, the aim was to stimulate debate on the issues, since there was no possibility of its being agreed before the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam when it would require a new legal base. The previous Committee cleared the document.[51]
    2. The German Government has brought the initiative forward again. As its legal base now falls within Title IV of the EC Treaty (Visas, asylum, immigration and other policies related to the free movement of persons), the UK has three months from the formal publication of the proposal in which to decide whether to opt in to the measure (in accordance with the provisions in the Protocol on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland now annexed to the EC Treaty and the Treaty of European Union).
    3. The document

    4. The document sets out the procedural rules to be followed when expulsions by air necessitate transit across other Member States. It covers such areas of assistance as meeting aliens, escorting them in the transit airport, preventing any attempt to resist transit, and providing emergency medical care and sustenance as required to aliens and their escorts. The rules are essentially unchanged from those in the original proposal.
    5. The Government's view

    6. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Race Equality, Community Policy and European and International Policy (Lord Filkin) comments:
    7. "The UK supports enhanced operational co-operation between Member States where this will assist in delivering higher numbers of sustainable returns. This initiative, as currently drafted, would have significant resource implications for the UK as a major airport hub. This concern was observed in the UK's response to the Commission's Green Paper on a Community Return Policy for Illegal Residents[52]. The UK's view was that direct non-stop flights should be used wherever possible and the need to transit another Member State should be justified. This transit process should be secure and not lead to further asylum claims or absconding en route. Furthermore, proposals to develop co-operation on transit should ensure that Member States (such as the UK) which host major airport hubs do not suffer detriment as a result. Assistance with transit is likely to be a resource intensive process, and any proposal should take this into account in order to add maximum value to Member States' efforts to carry out safe, dignified removals."


    8. Although we are aware that the UK generally opts into measures designed to combat illegal immigration, it appears critical of several aspects of this proposal, as currently drafted. We note that the Minister has not told us whether the Government intends to opt into this measure, and we ask to know the position.
    9. We will keep the document under scrutiny until we have his response, and further information about the progress of negotiations.


51  (20081) 7264/99: see headnote to this paragraph. Back

52  (23400) 8000/02; see HC 152-xxxviii (2001-02), paragraph 31 (16 October 2002).  Back

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