TWENTY FIRST REPORT
17 March 1998
By the Select Committee appointed
to consider Community proposals, whether in draft or otherwise,
to obtain all necessary information about them, and to make reports
on those which, in the opinion of the Committee, raise important
questions of policy or principle, and on other questions to which
the Committee considers that the special attention of the House
should be drawn.
DEFINING THE "SCHENGEN
1. The incorporation of the "Schengen
acquis" into the framework of the European Union is
one of the major features of the Treaty of Amsterdam. It will
provide, for the Member States party to Schengen (ie all
except the United Kingdom and Ireland), a substantial body of
rules under the new Title IIIa of the EC Treaty contributing to
"an area of freedom, security and justice".
2. The Schengen Agreement and
Convention create an area without internal frontiers, with compensatory
measures at the external frontier and supporting measures to fight
illegal immigration and increase co-operation between police forces.
Five States - Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands
- signed the Agreement at Schengen on 14 June 1985. Some thirteen
Member States, together with two non-Member States, Norway and
Iceland, have now become party to the Agreement and the Implementing
Convention of 19 June 1990.
3. The position of the United
Kingdom and Ireland, who are not bound by the Schengen acquis,
is set out in Article 4 of a Protocol to the Treaty of Amsterdam.
They may at any time request to take part in some or all
of the provisions of the acquis. That "opt-in"
is not, however, an absolute right. The Council shall decide
on the request by unanimity of the Member States party to Schengen
and the requesting State. A Declaration
provides that the Council should seek the opinion of the Commission
before it decides on a request under Article 4 by the United Kingdom
and/or Ireland. The Schengen States undertake to make their best
efforts to allow the United Kingdom and Ireland to avail themselves
of the provisions of Article 4.
4. The "Schengen acquis"
is defined in an Annex to the Protocol on integrating Schengen
as the Schengen Agreement of 14 June 1985, the Implementing Convention
of 19 June 1990, the Accession Protocols and Agreements and "Decisions
and declarations adopted by the Executive Committee established
by the 1990 Implementing Convention, as well as acts adopted for
the implementation of the Convention by the organs upon which
the Executive Committee has conferred decision making powers".
This last category would appear to comprise some 3000 pages.
There is as yet no definitive list or version, though it is hoped
to agree one soon. The Government has agreed to deposit copies
of the full acquis in both Houses, once the acquis
has been definitively established.
5. A Declaration
to the Final Act of the Amsterdam Treaty calls for the necessary
preparatory work on integrating the Schengen acquis to
be undertaken in due time to be completed prior to the date of
entry into force of the Treaty. That work is currently being
undertaken by two Council Working Groups, which are chaired by
the United Kingdom for the duration of its Presidency.
6. The first Working Group is
concerned with the distribution of the provisions of the Schengen
acquis between the First Pillar and the Third Pillar, and
the allocation of the appropriate legal base to each provision.
In broad terms, immigration and asylum matters go to the First
Pillar, and police co-operation goes to the Third. There may
be problems where provisions concern matters which belong in more
than one Pillar; for example, the Schengen Information System
is used predominantly for police purposes but is also used in
7. The second Council Working
Group is examining the question of the position of Norway and
Iceland, which are members of, and have rights under, Schengen,
within the new arrangements which would follow the ratification
of the Amsterdam Treaty. Article 6 of the Protocol provides for
Iceland and Norway to be associated with the implementation of
the Schengen acquis and its further development. Two agreements
on the future relationship are to be concluded, one with the Member
States party to Schengen, the other with the United Kingdom and
8. The culmination of the work
of the first Council Working Group will be a draft decision of
the Council, as described in the second paragraph of Article 2(1)
of the Protocol, determining the legal basis of each of the provisions
or decisions which constitute the Schengen acquis. That
decision will be furnished by the Government for scrutiny by this
Committee, when we would hope to have a sufficient opportunity
to consider it in detail, taking evidence where necessary. Its
importance as regards the substantive content of the new Title
IIIA and of Title VI of the EC Treaty, and as regards procedures
for change and judicial supervision, should not be underestimated.
9. In this Report, we make available
for the information of the House oral evidence given to Sub-Committee F
(Social Affairs, Education and Home Affairs) by Mr M. J. Eland,
Deputy Director General (Policy), Immigration and Nationality
Directorate, and Mrs L. Pallett, European Directorate of the Immigration
and Nationality Directorate, Home Office, on the progress being
made on the definition and integration of the Schengen acquis.
Protocol integrating the Schengen acquis into the framework
of the European Union. Back
Declaration (45) on Article 4 of the Protocol integrating the
Schengen acquis into the framework of the European Union.
It was added in response to the concerns of the United Kingdom
and Ireland that the requirement of unanimity could be used by
certain Member States to block them participating in some or all
of the Schengen acquis. Back
Declaration (44) on Article 2 of the Protocol integrating the
Schengen acquis into the framework of the European Union.
Also Declaration (47) on Article 6 of the Protocol requires all
necessary steps relating to the Agreements dealing with the ongoing
relationship with Iceland and Norway to be completed in similar