Select Committee on Home Affairs Written Evidence

13.  Memorandum submitted by the Mayor of London


  EU legislation in the area of Justice and Home Affairs impact on London and the Mayor's responsibilities for policing, refugee integration as well as social and economical development more generally. The Mayor is concerned about lack of progress at EU level on key issues towards the development of the EU as an area of justice, freedom and security and sees a clear interest in strong cooperation at EU level to effectively combat the threat of terrorism. The Mayor therefore fully supports the European Commission's suggestion to move towards more effective decision-making procedures in the Council and to give a stronger role to the European Parliament and the Court of Justice.


  1.  The Mayor of London welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Home Affairs Committee's inquiry into European Union issues, notably the Commission's proposals for implementation of the "passerelle" clause allowing co-decision and qualified majority voting on certain Justice and Home Affairs issues and the mid-term review of the Hague programme.

  2.  The Mayor follows EU developments in this area closely due to the direct impact EU policies have on London and on the Mayor's responsibilities in areas such as policing and refugee integration. Also, more generally immigration and asylum legislation determined at EU level influence the Mayor's statutory responsibilities for London's social and economic development as well as the Mayor's obligation to promote equal opportunities for all and to address health inequalities.

  3.  Via his European Office, the Mayor engages directly in EU policy developments in the area of Justice and Home Affairs. Recent contributions include a submission to the Commission's evaluation of Council Directive laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers (2003/9/EC) and a submission to the Commission's Green Paper on an EU approach to managing economic migration. The Mayor's European Office will also play an active role in the forthcoming consultation on the Green Paper on a second phase of a Common Asylum System.


  4.  The Mayor appreciates the need for stronger and more effective decision-making procedures at EU level in those areas within Justice and Home Affairs that are still subject to so-called third pillar cooperation, notably police and criminal justice matters.

  5.  There are obvious reasons for concern about the lack of progress in negotiations between Member States on key issues such as the criminalisation of offences of racism and xenophobia on a uniform basis across the EU. The current need for obtaining unanimity means that it is the most reluctant Member States that determine the pace of progress and there is little scope for more progressive Member States to move forward at EU level and to push for legislation that goes beyond minimum standards.

  6.  Also, terrorism will clearly continue to pose a threat to the EU in the future, not least in London. The Mayor believes that effective cooperation at EU level, and legislation that facilitates the smooth collaboration between law enforcement agencies, are essential in terms of ensuring safety of all EU citizens and preventing further attacks.

  7.  He therefore fully supports the Commission's suggestion to move towards the "Community Method", including the use of qualified majority voting in the Council and co-decision with the European Parliament, together with an increased role for the European Court of Justice. This would increase the legitimacy of EU legislation in the area and push Member States into more dynamic negotiations in the search for compromises.

  8.  A strengthened decision-making procedure should develop in parallel with measures to improve operational cooperation between Member States. For example on counter-terrorism other EU Member States have a lot to learn from the UK, and notably London, in terms of developing community engagement programmes to fight radicalism and counter terrorism in general. Mechanisms at EU level which facilitate exchange of good practice between Member States and sub-national levels are crucial to achieving good results in the long-term.

  9.  Finally, the Mayor regrets that the UK does not fully participate in all parts of the Hague Programme and systematically chooses not to participate in EU measures related to immigration. It is well known that London is a city built on immigration and that the immigrant population has contributed enormously over time to the economic, social and cultural development and made it into the vibrant city it is today. Not participating in EU-wide rules regulating the rights and responsibilities of third country nationals puts London's large immigrant population at a disadvantage compared to third country nationals in the rest of the EU, notably when it comes to the right to free movement within the EU. The Mayor hopes that the Government is willing to reconsider its position on this matter in near future.

Dorthe Nielsen

Senior Policy Coordinator, London's European Office

Richard Wiltshire

Government and Parliamentary Liaison

25 September 2006

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