Documents considered by the Committee on 8 January 2014 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

3 Relocation of the European Police College (CEPOL)



+ ADDs 1-2

Initiative of Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany. Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Decision 2005/681/JHA establishing the European Police College (CEPOL)

Explanatory memorandum and impact assessment

Legal baseArticle 87(2)(b) TFEU; co-decision; QMV
Document originated29 November 2013
Deposited in Parliament11 December 2013
DepartmentHome Office
Basis of considerationEM of 13 December 2013
Previous Committee ReportNone
Discussion in CouncilNo date set
Committee's assessmentLegally and politically important
Committee's decisionNot cleared; further information requested; opt-in decision for debate in European Committee B


3.1 The European Police College (CEPOL) was originally established in 2000 as a network of national training institutes for senior police officers. Its remit was to support Member States in preventing and combating crime with a cross-border dimension and in maintaining law and order and public security. CEPOL was established as an EU Agency by a Decision adopted in 2005 ("the 2005 Decision") which also provided for it to be financed from the EU budget.[9] Its core objectives are to improve knowledge of Member States' national police systems and structures and to increase awareness of the instruments and structures (such as Europol and Eurojust) available at EU level to strengthen cross-border police cooperation.

3.2 CEPOL is currently based at Bramshill, in Hampshire. Its location is set out in Article 4 of the 2005 Decision. In December 2012, the Government announced that the Bramshill site, which also houses the UK's College of Policing for England and Wales, would be sold and that CEPOL would be required to relocate. Shortly afterwards, in March 2013, the Commission published a draft Regulation which would repeal the 2005 Decision and a 2009 Decision establishing Europol — the Hague-based European Police Office — as an EU Agency and merge their functions within a single EU Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation and Training.[10] As most Member States oppose the proposed merger, we understand that negotiations on the draft Regulation are continuing within the Council on the basis that CEPOL will remain a separate Agency. This means that it will be necessary to agree a new location for CEPOL. In June 2013, the Government told us that a number of Member States had expressed an interest in hosting CEPOL but that it did not yet have a settled view on which alternative location would be appropriate.[11]

3.3 The Justice and Home Affairs Council in October 2013 reached a political agreement on "provisional arrangements" to host CEPOL in Budapest, Hungary, from the date on which the Bramshill site closes, pending the outcome of negotiations on the draft Europol Regulation.[12]

The draft Regulation

3.4 The draft Regulation is a Member State initiative to amend Article 4 of the 2005 Decision (which currently provides for CEPOL to be located in Bramshill) by establishing a new base for CEPOL in Budapest on a date yet to be determined later in 2014. It is based on Article 87(2)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) which provides for EU measures in the field of police cooperation to support "the training of staff, and cooperation on the exchange of staff, on equipment and on research into crime detection". The initiative is supported by 25 of the EU's 28 Member States — the exceptions are Denmark, Ireland and the UK — and is subject to the UK's Title V (justice and home affairs) opt-in. An explanatory memorandum accompanying the initiative states that "a Regulation adopted by the European Parliament and the Council is considered to be the appropriate legal instrument to amend [the 2005] Council Decision".[13]

The Government's view

3.5 The Minister for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims (Damian Green) notes that the UK, Ireland and Denmark were not invited to co-sponsor this Member State initiative, as Denmark is excluded from all EU justice and home affairs measures and the participation of the UK and Ireland is dependent on exercising their Title V opt-in. The UK has until 8 March 2014 to notify the Council Presidency of its opt-in decision.

3.6 The Minister reiterates the Government's commitment to approaching all opt-in decisions on "a case-by-case basis, putting the national interest at the heart of our decision making". He welcomes the draft Regulation as it will remove the existing obligation on the UK to house CEPOL and offers "an obvious benefit" insofar as it facilitates the move from Bramshill, freeing the existing site for sale, but adds:

"We will also want to consider the consequences of the Member State initiative for granting co-decision rights to the European Parliament on a decision in relation to the location of an Agency; a matter usually reserved to the Council." [14]

3.7 The Minister indicates that the Presidency has been very helpful in establishing a process to enable the move from Bramshill to happen quickly. He expects the Budapest site to be available from the end of August 2014 and the Government has accordingly extended CEPOL's lease at Bramshill until September 2014. If the draft Regulation is not approved, the Minister suggests that it may "become difficult to meet our aim of selling Bramshill".[15]

3.8 Turning to the financial implications of the relocation of CEPOL, the Minister refers to the Impact Assessment accompanying the draft Regulation which:

"estimates that CEPOL will save approximately £167K per year in functioning costs by moving from the UK to Hungary. It estimates that the one-off relocation costs will be £1.6M. What, if any, relocation costs will fall to the UK is unclear at this stage. CEPOL currently pays the College of Policing facilities management costs of £266K per annum. The sale of Bramshill is expected to save the Government £5M per year in running costs."[16]

3.9 The 2005 Decision, which the draft Regulation would amend, is one of approximately 130 EU police and criminal justice measures subject to the UK's 2014 block opt-out decision. Command Paper 8671, published in July 2013, lists the 2005 Decision as one of the measures that the Government intends to seek to rejoin.


3.10 The Government told us last June that it had not yet reached a settled view on a suitable alternative location for CEPOL We ask the Minister whether he agrees with the choice of Budapest and to explain why it would be an appropriate base for CEPOL.

3.11 We note the Government's reservations concerning the proposed legal base for the draft Regulation, which would extend a power of co-decision on the location of CEPOL to the European Parliament. We ask the Minister whether he considers that a different legal base should be cited and, if so, which one.

3.12 The explanatory memorandum accompanying the Member State initiative asserts that a Regulation is "the appropriate legal instrument" to amend the 2005 Decision without explaining why. We ask the Minister if he agrees with this assessment and to explain why a draft amending Decision would not be appropriate.

3.13 We note that there is a degree of uncertainty as to the costs which the UK may be required to bear for the relocation of CEPOL. We trust that this issue will be resolved before the Government agrees to the adoption of the draft Regulation (should the UK decide to opt in) and ask the Minister to ensure that we are informed of any costs falling to the UK.

3.14 Finally, the 2005 Decision (which the draft Regulation would amend) is subject to the UK's 2014 block opt-out decision. The conditions for exercising the UK's block opt-out are set out in Article 10 of Protocol (No 36) on Transitional Provisions annexed to the EU Treaties. Article 10(2) provides that pre-Lisbon EU police and criminal justice measures which are amended before the end of the five-year transitional period established under Article 10(1) of the Protocol are subject to the full jurisdiction of the Court of Justice and the Commission's enforcement powers. We ask the Minister to confirm that a decision by the UK to opt into the draft Regulation would remove the 2005 Decision from the list of measures subject to the UK's block opt-out (and reduce by one the measures listed in Command Paper 8671 which the Government intends to seek to rejoin). Given the wider implications of the Government's opt-in decision for the UK's 2014 block opt-out decision, we consider that it should be debated in European Committee B. We expect the opt-in debate to address the consequences for the UK of accepting the full jurisdiction of the Court of Justice, should the Government decide to opt into the draft Regulation.

3.15 The draft Regulation remains under scrutiny. We are drawing it to the attention of the Home Affairs Committee because of its wider interest in the activities of Europol and EU policing matters.

9   Council Decision 2005/681/JHA, OJ No. L 256, 01.10.05. Back

10   See (34843) 8229/13 and (34842) 8230/13: HC 83-iii (2013-14), chapters 1 and 14 (21 May 2013). Back

11   Letter of 20 June 2013 from the Minister for Security (James Brokenshire) to the Chair of the European Scrutiny Committee. Back

12   See Council Conclusions at Back

13   See p.3 of ADD 1. Back

14   See para 18 of the Minister's Explanatory Memorandum. Back

15   See para 21 of the Minister's Explanatory Memorandum. Back

16   See para 24 of the Minister's Explanatory Memorandum. Back

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Prepared 17 January 2014