Documents considered by the Committee on 11 July 2018 Contents

6International measures on safety and security at football matches

Committee’s assessment

Legally and politically important

Committee’s decision

Not cleared from scrutiny; further information requested; drawn to the attention of the Home Affairs Committee and the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee

Document details

Proposal for a Council Decision authorising Member States to become party to the Council of Europe Convention on an Integrated Safety, Security and Service Approach at Football Matches and Other Sports Events (CETS no 218)

Legal base

Articles 87(1), 218(6)(a)(v) and 218(8) TFEU, QMV

Department

Home Office

Document Number

(39689), 8577/18, COM(18) 247

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

6.1The proposed Council Decision would authorise Member States to become parties to a new Council of Europe Convention on the safety and security of international football matches.42 The EU cannot itself become a party to the Convention but the European Commission considers that the provisions in Article 11(2) to (4) of the Convention requiring contracting parties to set up or designate a National Football Information Point (“NFIP”) within their police forces and setting out the tasks assigned to each NFIP fall within the EU’s exclusive competence, meaning that EU Member States can only sign and ratify the Convention if authorised to do so by the EU. It says that these provisions take their inspiration from, and “coincide almost fully” with, existing EU measures requiring each Member State to establish a national football information point to share information and facilitate cooperation between police forces on football matches with an international dimension.43

6.2The Commission has proposed a Council Decision which would authorise Member States to become parties to the Convention “in respect of those parts falling under the exclusive competence of the Union”.44 Although the proposal cites a Title V (justice and home affairs) legal base — Article 87(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) on cross-border police cooperation — an introductory recital to the proposal states that the UK is bound to take part in the Council Decision (and so cannot rely on its Title V opt-in Protocol to decide not to participate) as the UK participates in the existing measures on which the EU’s claim to exclusive external competence is based.45

6.3In his Explanatory Memorandum of 18 May, the Minister for Policing and the Fire Service (Mr Nick Hurd) said that the UK already complied with the Convention. He did not clearly state whether the Government accepted that the EU had exclusive competence in relation to NFIPs, but indicated that the proposed Council Decision was subject to the UK’s Title V justice and home affairs opt-in, meaning that it would only apply to the UK if the Government decided to opt in.

6.4In our Report agreed on 6 June, we asked the Minister to clarify the Government’s view on the nature and extent of the EU’s competence in relation to the Convention. We also asked him to explain:

6.5In his letter of 3 July 2018, the Minister confirms that the EU has exclusive external competence “insofar as the Convention relates to relations between EU Member States’ NFIPs” but says that this does not extend to “relations between EU Member States’ NFIPs and non-EU contracting parties’ NFIPs”. He continues:

“However, given the existence of some exclusive external competence in relation to Article 11, if the Government were to choose not to opt in, the UK would not be able to become a party to the Convention in our own right, given we are bound by the EU’s exclusive external competence in this area. This will be one of the issues the Government considers when taking its opt-in decision.”

6.6The Minister confirms that the Commission and Council consider the UK to be automatically bound by the proposed Council Decision since the UK participates in the underlying EU legislation on which the EU’s claim to exclusive external competence is based. By contrast, the Government considers that the UK’s Title V opt-in Protocol applies to “all measures that cite a Justice and Home Affairs legal base or that contain JHA obligations”. He does not expect the proposal to be amended to include a recital reflecting the Government’s view. The Government will therefore lay a minute statement on the adoption of the proposed Council Decision “clarifying that the UK’s JHA opt-in Protocol applies”. He expects the UK to ratify the Convention “during 2019”.

Our Conclusions

6.7We are not convinced by the Minister’s argument that the EU’s external competence is limited in the way he suggests. Nor do we understand why he states that the UK would not be able to become a party to the Convention “in our own right” if the Government were to decide not to opt into the proposed Council Decision. This would seem to defeat the purpose of the Government’s opt-in policy which seeks to preserve the UK’s right to assert that it is not bound by the EU’s exclusive external competence in justice and home affairs matters unless the UK chooses to opt in.

6.8We note that the Minister expects the UK to ratify the Convention during 2019. Given that he has also said that the UK would be unable to become a party to the Convention in its own right unless the Government decided to opt into the proposed Council Decision, we infer that this must be its intention. We ask the Minister to inform us of the Government’s opt-in decision and the reasons for it at the earliest opportunity. Meanwhile, the proposal remains under scrutiny. We draw this chapter to the attention of the Home Affairs Committee and the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

Full details of the documents

Proposal for a Council Decision authorising Member States to become party, in the interest of the European Union, to the Council of Europe Convention on an Integrated Safety, Security and Service Approach at Football Matches and Other Sports Events (CETS no 218): (39689), 8577/18, COM(18) 247.

Background

6.9The purpose of the Council of Europe Convention is to “ensure that football and other sports events provide a safe, secure and welcoming environment for all individuals through the implementation of an integrated approach on safety, security and service at sports events by a plurality of actors working in a partnership amid an ethos of co-operation”. It requires contracting parties to:

6.10 The Convention also includes measures to prevent and punish acts of violence and misbehaviour, such as stadium bans, sanctions procedures in the country where the offence is committed or in the offender’s country of residence or citizenship, or restrictions on travelling abroad to football events. The designation of a national football information point within the police force (NFIP) of each country participating in the Convention is intended to “step up” international police co-operation by facilitating exchanges of information and personal data in connection with international football matches.46

6.11EU law requires EU Member States have a national football information point to act as “the direct, central contact point for exchanging relevant information and for facilitating international police cooperation in connection with football matches with an international dimension”.47 The main tasks of the information points are to:

6.12In addition, the EU Football Handbook (last updated in 2016) contains detailed guidance on international police cooperation, the exchange of police information and the role and tasks of national football information points.48

Previous Committee Reports

Thirtieth Report HC 301–xxix (2017–19), chapter 15 (6 June 2018).


42 See the European Convention on an Integrated Safety, Security and Service Approach at Football Matches and Other Sports Events which was opened for signature in July 2016.

43 See Council Decision 2002/348/JHA concerning security in connection with football matches with an international dimension, as amended by Council Decision2007/412/JHA. The UK participates in both Council Decisions. See also the Commission’s competence analysis on pp 3–4 of its explanatory memorandum accompanying the proposed Council Decision.

44 Article 1 of the proposed Council Decision.

45 See recital (7) of the proposed Council Decision.

46 See the description of the Convention on the Council of Europe’s Treaty Office website.

47 See Article 1(3) of Council Decision 2002/348/JHA.

48 See Council Resolution 2016 C 444/01 concerning an updated handbook with recommendations for international police cooperation and measures to prevent and control violence and disturbances in connection with football matches with an international dimension, in which at least one Member State is involved (“EU Football Handbook”).




Published: 17 July 2018