Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Seventh Report


60 Co-operation between Eurojust and the United States of America

(27792)

12426/1/06

Co-operation agreement between Eurojust and the United States of America

Legal baseArticle 27 of Council Decision 2002/187/JHA; approval
Deposited in Parliament11 September 2006
DepartmentHome Office
Basis of considerationEM of 25 September 2006
Previous Committee ReportNone
To be discussed in CouncilNo date set
Committee's assessmentLegally and politically important
Committee's decisionCleared

Background

60.1 Eurojust was established by Council Decision 2002/187/JHA[159] to promote and facilitate co-operation in the investigation and prosecution of organised cross-border crime. The Council Decision authorises Eurojust to negotiate co-operation agreements with third countries, and such agreements have been negotiated with Norway, Iceland and Romania. Such agreements are subject to approval by the Council.

60.2 The previous Committee considered the draft agreement with Norway in 2004 and cleared it from scrutiny without a substantive report. Similarly, in 2005 we cleared the draft agreement with Romania without a substantive report.[160]

The draft agreement with the United States

60.3 The draft agreement closely follows the pattern of the agreements with Norway and Romania in providing for the secondment of a liaison prosecutor from the United States to Eurojust, the appointment of a contact point for Eurojust within the United States Department of Justice and the participation of US prosecuting and investigating authorities in operational and strategy meetings of Eurojust. The agreement also makes detailed provision for the exchange of information and the protection of data.

60.4 The agreement provides for co-operation between Eurojust and the United States Department of Justice within the fields of activity set out in Articles 6 and 7 of the Eurojust Decision (which include serious organised crime and terrorism). The Department of Justice may also invite participation by state or local prosecuting authorities in the activities authorised by the Eurojust/US agreement, subject to an undertaking by those authorities to observe the terms of that agreement. The United States may second a public prosecutor ("liaison prosecutor") to Eurojust. US prosecuting authorities, including investigative agents, may take part in operational and strategy meetings of Eurojust, at the invitation of the President of Eurojust and with the agreement of Eurojust national members.

60.5 Article 8 of the agreement authorises the parties to exchange information for stated purposes, and Articles 9 to 17 contain detailed rules on privacy and the protection of data. Article 9 requires both parties to act in accordance with their respective national laws governing the processing of data and provides for a commitment to processing personal data fairly, to ensuring that the personal data is adequate and relevant in relation to the specific purpose for which it was requested, to retaining data only for so long as is necessary and to ensuring that inaccurate data is brought to the attention of the receiving party so that appropriate corrections can be made.

60.6 Article 10 authorises the parties to use evidence or information obtained under the agreement for the purposes of criminal investigations or proceedings (including directly related non-criminal judicial or administrative proceedings) or for preventing an "immediate and serious threat to its public security". Such evidence or information may be used for any other purpose if it has been made public, or with the prior consent of the party which has transmitted the information. The provisions of Article 10 also allow the transmitting party to impose additional conditions in a particular case where the information could not otherwise be supplied, but does not permit the imposition of "generic restrictions with respect to the legal standards of the receiving party". Article 10 also prohibits the transfer of information or evidence obtained under the agreement to any third party without the consent of the party providing the information and without "the appropriate safeguards".

60.7 Article 11 provides that personal data which reveals "racial or ethnic origin, political opinions or religious or other beliefs, trade union membership" or which concerns health and sexual life may be transmitted if it is "particularly relevant" to combating serious forms of transnational crime, including terrorism or for preventing an immediate and serious threat to a party's public security. Article 12 requires each party to maintain a record of the transmission and receipt of data communicated under the agreement and Article 13 requires each party to take measures to protect personal data against loss, alteration or any other form of unauthorised processing. Articles 14 to 17 provide for the provision of information to data subjects, the correction, blockage and deletion of personal data, and time limits for the storage of data, in accordance with the applicable national laws.

The Government's view

60.8 In her Explanatory Memorandum of 25 September 2006 the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office (Joan Ryan) welcomes the draft co-operation agreement between Eurojust and the United States. The Minister notes that Eurojust has worked on building links between US prosecutors and the Eurojust network, with a particular focus on terrorism issues, and that the agreement "will enhance Eurojust relations with the USA by extending the sphere of cooperation to include other areas of organised crime, including drug trafficking, counterfeiting and fraud and money laundering".

60.9 Turning to the substance of the agreement, the Minister states that the Government considers this to be "an effectively drafted document". The Minister welcomes the provisions for the secondment of a US liaison prosecutor and the appointment of a contact point for Eurojust within the Department of Justice.

60.10 On the issue of data protection, the Minister comments as follows:

"The Government considers that this Agreement sets out clear and wide-ranging rules for the exchange of data and information and for the processing and protection of data. It is important to note that the Eurojust Joint Supervisory Board on Data Protection gave a unanimous positive opinion on this draft agreement."

Conclusion

60.11 We agree with the Minister's assessment of this agreement, which closely follows the pattern of previous agreements with Norway and Romania which we cleared from scrutiny without a substantive report.

60.12 Having regard to the importance of the United States as a partner in co-operation to deal with transnational crime, we think it right briefly to report on this document, which we now clear from scrutiny.




159   OJ No. L 63, 6.03.02, p.1. Back

160   (26646), (26647): See HC 34-iv (2005-06), para 24 (20 July 2005). Back


 
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