A. GENERAL POLICY QUESTIONS
27. UNITED KINGDOM PRESIDENCY PROPOSAL FOR AN ACTION PLAN
ON MEASURES TO BE TAKEN BY MEMBER STATES OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
ON THE INFLUX OF MIGRANTS FROM IRAQ
Letter from the Rt Hon Jack Straw MP, Home Secretary,
to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee
I am writing to you personally about this proposal with a
request that the Committee gives it their urgent attention. The
draft Action Plan is to be submitted to the General Affairs Council
on 26-27 January for adoption.
The document and the covering Explanatory Note are enclosed
I do not propose to expand on them in this letter but I would
like to explain the urgency of this issue and therefore my request
for the Committee's early comments.
The general issue of migrants from Iraq has developed very
quickly into an issue of major political importance for a number
of Member States of the European Union. It was discussed at the
Justice and Home Affairs Council on 4-5 December 1997 where Ministers
agreed that K4 Committee should examine a proposal for an EU Action
Plan. At its meeting on 18 December, K4 Committee decided that
an Action Plan should be drawn up. As incoming Presidency the
UK drew up a draft Action Plan which was issued as a Council document
on 6 January. It has since been discussed in the various, relevant
working groups and the first revision, which is the document I
am sending to you, was discussed by the K4 Committee on 16 January.
This Action Plan, which consists of Justice and Home Affairs elements
only, will then, with separate Second Pillar elements, be submitted
to the General Affairs Council on 26-27 January for adopton.
I am sorry so early in our Presidency to have to ask you
to arrange Scrutiny of a Third Pillar document in such haste.
But this is an unusually urgent matter which I am sure you will
appreciate. I would welcome the Committee's early response.
Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee,
to the Rt Hon Jack Straw MP, Home Secretary
Thank you for your letter, received on 19 January, about
the above proposal. This is obviously a significant matter, and
in normal circumstances I would have referred the proposal to
Sub-Committee F (Social Affairs, Education and Home affairs) for
scrutiny. However, in view of the need to act quickly, I took
advantage of the fact that there was a meeting of the European
Communities Committee yesterday afternoon, and circulated your
letter and Explanatory Note to the Committee for its consideration.
The Committee agreed with the Government on the urgency of
the matter. But the Committee also noted that the Kurdish crisis
has raised a number of questions concerning the effectiveness
of existing controls and co-operation under the Schengen Agreement
and the Dublin Convention, and the implications for the proposed
Eurodac Convention. These are matters about which we may wish
to ask Doug Henderson when he gives evidence to the Committee
on 17 February, and which Sub-Committee F may, in due course,
wish to look at.
These are clearly not reasons for holding up the present
proposal. Consequently, the Committee was content to clear the
21 January 1998