Select Committee on Home Affairs Third Report

Annex: Terms of Reference of the inquiry as agreed by the Committee on 31 October 2006

The Committee decided that its inquiry should focus on the following specific matters:

The current state of progress in developing practical co-operation between member states in the JHA field, and future options in this area.

—  What benefits have accrued so far from practical co-operation between law enforcement and judicial authorities? What are the lessons of practical co-operation for European policy and legislation, and how effective is Eurojust in spreading best practice?

—  In which areas does the UK government want to advance more practical co-operation measures? What benefits does the government see from practical co-operation over legislative solutions?

—  What should be the role of Europol, Interpol and Eurojust in facilitating practical co-operation?

The current state of progress in mutual recognition, including the development of minimum standards, across the EU, and whether further steps in this direction are desirable.

—  In which areas is mutual recognition currently employed (for example recognition of judicial judgements in other member states)?

—  How has the principle, including minimum standards and protocols, worked in these areas? Is it an effective approach, including in terms of cost?

—  What are the limitations of mutual recognition as a cornerstone of co-operation, for example in cases such as the European Arrest Warrant where there are controversies over dual criminality? What have been the successes, and how might these be built on?

—  What is the UK government's position on mutual recognition as opposed to practical co-operation?

The current state of progress in and appetite for harmonising criminal justice systems across the EU, and whether further steps in this direction are desirable.

—  How do proposals for harmonisation of criminal law across member states substantially differ from mutual recognition?

—  What are the implications for the UK in harmonising criminal law and systems?

—  Would particular areas benefit from harmonisation on issues such as migration, serious crime cases and terrorism, rather than practical co-operation or mutual recognition?

The process of decision-making on JHA issues at EU level: in particular, the extent to which current difficulties in reaching agreement derive from 'third pillar' voting procedure and might be remedied by implementation of the passerelle clauses in previous treaties.

—  What implications might use of the passerelle have for the UK's legal and judicial systems? What alternative action might improve decision-making? How can transparency and accountability at European level best be extended?

How significant is the recent trend towards internal agreements between groups of member states outside the framework of the EU, for instance the Schengen countries, or the Prum convention? To what extent is this due to unanimity or difficulties in decision making? What are the implications for the UK and for EU fragmentation?

What are the current developments in the area of common border controls and visa arrangements? What implications does the proposed new policy on illegal migration have for the UK and our role in the EU? Will the proposed changes to the short-stay visa arrangements in relation to the eastern neighbours of the EU open up new channels for illegal migration further westward in the EU? What are the implications of enlargement for JHA issues, including the impact of labour migration and confidence in new member states' justice systems?

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