The Committee looks at the significance of EU proposals and decides whether to clear the document from scrutiny or withhold clearance and ask questions of the Government. The Committee also has the power to recommend documents for debate.
The Commission has proposed changes to the Visa Information System (VIS) to make it interoperable with other EU migration and security information systems, ensure that more thorough background checks can be carried out on visa applicants, close information gaps and support law enforcement in tackling terrorism and other serious crime. As VIS builds on part of the Schengen rule book in which the UK does not participate and the changes envisaged will not apply to the UK, the Government considers that the proposal will have no direct legal, policy or financial implications for the UK. It does not address the possibility that the biometric information of UK nationals could be collected and stored in VIS if the EU were to introduce visa requirements post-exit/transition. This, in turn, is likely to depend on decisions the Government takes on the future immigration status of EU citizens in the UK. Given these uncertainties, the European Scrutiny Committee is holding the proposed Regulation under scrutiny and requesting further information on the wider Brexit implications, both for UK citizens (including the adequacy of safeguards) and for UK law enforcement access to data held in VIS.
Not cleared from scrutiny; further information requested; drawn to the attention of the Home Affairs Committee
These proposals would authorise the Commission to negotiate agreements enabling Europol to exchange personal data with the law enforcement authorities of eight countries — Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt and Algeria. As the Government indicated that the Presidency intended to reach a swift agreement, the European Scrutiny Committee cleared the proposals from scrutiny in March, noting that it would be beneficial for the UK to be involved in the negotiations (not least because they might serve as a model for a future agreement on the exchange of personal data between the UK and Europol). The Government now confirms that the proposals have been adopted by the Council. The Committee urges the Government to make the case for “country by country impact assessments” to inform discussions on the necessary human rights and data protection safeguards to be included in each agreement and says it will wish to consider the adequacy of these safeguards when the negotiations have been completed and the Council is invited to sign and conclude the agreements.
Previously cleared from scrutiny; drawn to the attention of the Home Affairs Committee and the Joint Committee on Human Rights
The proposed Regulation would replace and improve existing EU mechanisms which provide for freezing and confiscation orders issued in one Member State to be recognised and enforced in another. The Government has opted in to signal its commitment to continued cooperation in this area post-exit. The Council has concluded negotiations with the European Parliament and is expected formally to adopt the proposed Regulation after summer, meaning that it would apply to the UK during the post-exit transition/implementation period envisaged in the draft EU/UK Withdrawal Agreement. The Government reiterates its aim of securing “a comprehensive new treaty on internal security cooperation” to take effect immediately after the end of the transition/implementation period. The European Scrutiny Committee clears the proposed Regulation from scrutiny but highlights the uncertainty from 2021 onwards and ask the Government to report back to the Committee on the progress being made in discussions with the EU on a new internal security treaty.
Cleared from scrutiny; further information requested; drawn to the attention of the Home Affairs Committee, the Justice Committee and the Committee on Exiting the European Union
These two proposed Regulations contain the technical detail to meet the objective of making EU security, border and migration information systems fully interoperable so that information on cross-border security threats and irregular migration can be shared more rapidly. The main features are the creation of a European search portal (a “one-stop shop” enabling multiple EU information systems to be searched simultaneously), a shared biometric matching service, a common identity repository and a multiple identity detector. All four features are intended to be mutually reinforcing, making it quicker and easier to spot individuals using multiple identities to evade detection. The UK is only entitled to participate in one of the proposed Regulations — the other covers Schengen-related information systems from which the UK is excluded. In its latest update, the Government responds to questions raised by the European Scrutiny Committee in February concerning the impact of interoperability on the rights of individuals whose data may be held in EU information systems (post-exit this will include the data of British citizens); the factors informing the Government’s decision on participation in the first of the two proposals; and the wider Brexit implications. The Committee continues to press the Government on the costs of UK participation, the timing (given that the Commission does not expect full interoperability to be in place until around 2023) and the mechanics for continued cooperation in this area post-exit.
Not cleared from scrutiny; further information requested; drawn to the attention of the Home Affairs Committee and the Justice Committee
These new proposals would amend existing Regulations on the taking of evidence and service of documents in civil and commercial proceedings in the EU to keep pace with technological developments and to make other improvements. The Government considers that it is “highly unlikely” that the proposals will be adopted before 29 March 2019. Even if adopted before that date, it says that the date of application is likely to be towards the end of, or after the proposed transition/implementation period (31 December 2020).
The UK’s JHA opt-in applies to both proposals. The Government must notify its opt-in decisions to the EU by 29 August. The UK already participates in both existing Regulations which these new proposals will amend. Under the UK’s opt-in Protocol, there is a risk that if the UK does not opt-in, it could be excluded from the existing Regulations and face financial consequences caused by non-participation.
We ask the Government for an early indication before the Summer recess of the likely opt-in decisions. We also probe for more details of the kind of future partnership sought, using the EU-Denmark international agreements on service of documents and on recognition and enforcement of judgments and the Lugano Convention as a benchmark. As CJEU jurisdiction is a feature of the Denmark agreements and so would breach a UK “red line”, we question what sort of model of cooperation the UK seeks.
We also ask about the substance of the proposals, including questions about whether compulsion to give direct evidence to another Member State court could breach the fundamental right to a fair trial (Article 47 Charter, Article 6 ECHR), restrictions on courts’ discretion about how to take and assess evidence, about differences between the EU proposals on service of documents electronically and existing domestic rules, the impact on the Scottish system for service of documents and costs implications for Member States arising from centralised and national databases for transmission of documentation.
(‘NC’ indicates document is ‘not cleared’ from scrutiny; ‘C’ indicates document is ‘cleared’)
Defence Committee: Operation Atalanta: relocation of Operational HQ away from the UK [Council Decision (C)]; European Defence Industrial Development Programme [Proposed Regulation (C)]
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee: International measures of safety and security at football matches [Proposed Council Decision (NC)]
Environmental Audit Committee: Agriculture and Sustainable Water Management [(a) Staff Working Document, (b) Report (C)]
Exiting the European Union Committee: Proceeds of crime: mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders [Proposed Regulation (C)]
Foreign Affairs Committee: Operation Atalanta: relocation of Operational HQ away from the UK [Council Decision (C)]; EU sanctions against the Maldives [(a) Council Decision, (b) Council Regulation (C)]
Home Affairs Committee: Europol: exchanging personal data with third countries [(a)-(h) Recommended Council Decisions (C)]; Upgrading the EU Visa Information System [Proposed Regulation (NC)]; Interoperable EU information systems for security, border control and migration management [Proposed Regulations (NC)]; Proceeds of crime: mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders [Proposed Regulation (C)]; International measures of safety and security at football matches [Proposed Council Decision (NC)]
International Development Committee: EU sanctions against the Maldives [(a) Council Decision, (b) Council Regulation (C)]
Joint Committee on Human Rights Committee: Europol: exchanging personal data with third countries [(a) – (h) Recommended Council Decisions (C)]; Taking of evidence and service of documents in civil or commercial proceedings [Proposed Regulations (NC)]
Justice Committee: Interoperable EU information systems for security, border control and migration management [Proposed Regulations (NC)]; Proceeds of crime: mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders [Proposed Regulation (C)]; Taking of evidence and service of documents in civil or commercial proceedings [Proposed Regulations (NC)]
Treasury Committee: Pan-European Personal Pension Product (PEPP) [Proposed Regulation (NC)]; Asset management: cross-border distribution of funds within the Single Market [(a) Proposed Directive, (b) Proposed Regulation (NC)]
Work and Pensions Committee: Pan-European Personal Pension Product (PEPP) [Proposed Regulation (NC)]
Published: 17 July 2018