21 July 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.
EUROPOL: THIRD COUNTRY
||Rules concerning the receipt of information by Europol from third States and third bodies
PART 1 INTRODUCTION
1. Crime and criminals
do not respect national boundaries. Effective crime prevention
and detection, particularly in relation to terrorism, illicit
drug trafficking and money laundering, requires international
co-operation. The European Union has responded in a number of
ways, not least by the creation of the European Police Office
(Europol). The Maastricht Treaty expressly defined Member States'
common interest in police co-operation as including "a Union-wide
system for exchanging information" within Europol (Treaty
on European Union, Article K.1.9).
2. The principal tasks
of Europol include facilitating exchange of information, collection,
analysis and provision of information and intelligence, support
for national investigations and maintenance of computerised information.
The ability of Europol to work together with third parties in
a global environment will be an important factor in the success
of its work in the fight against serious international crime.
The Convention of 26 July 1995 establishing Europol expressly
provides for Europol to establish and maintain relations with
third States and third bodies and to exchange information with
3. The Europol Convention
enters into force on 1 October 1998.
During the four years since signature, much work has been undertaken
on the detailed rules and regulations
enabling Europol to take up its activities. These rules and regulations
cannot be formally adopted until the Convention takes effect but
drafts have been agreed at the political level. Though not strictly
necessary for Europol to commence its operations, four sets of
rules have been agreed governing the relations of Europol with
third States and bodies:
Europol 26Rules concerning
the external relations of Europol with bodies linked to the European
Europol 27Rules concerning
the transmission of personal data by Europol to third States and
Europol 29Draft rules
concerning the external relations between Europol and third States
and bodies not linked to the European Union.
Europol 38Rules concerning
the receipt of information by Europol from third Parties.
4. These rules (the
"Third Country Rules") seek to clarify the extent of
Europol's external competence by establishing a regulatory framework
for operational co-operation with third States and EU or non-EU
bodies. The aim is to facilitate the exchange of personnel and
of information, including personal data. The rules allow some
flexibility to tailor the terms of a secondment or data protection
requirements to the particular State or body with whom Europol
wishes to communicate.
5. In February the Home
Office provided the Committee with four sets of rules governing
the relations of Europol with third States and third bodies. Of
these, three, we were told, had already been agreed. The fourth
(then Doc. 8033/5/97Rules concerning the receipt of information
by Europol from third States and third bodiesEuropol 28)
was sifted to Sub-Committee E (Law and Institutions). The Chairman
of the Select Committee took up with Home Office Ministers the
question of the Government's failure to give the Committee the
opportunity to scrutinise all four sets of Rules (p 2). The Minister
said: "We took the view that these documents fell outside
the criteria for deposit for scrutiny, as it seemed to us that
they were not of major significance". We return to this question
in Part 3 of this Report.
6. In order to assist
the work of the Sub-Committee, the views of the Data Protection
Registrar and of Justice were sought, initially only on Europol
28 (later to become Europol 38). Their evidence disclosed substantial
points of concern relating to protection of personal data and
the handling of information gained in violation of human rights.
Reactions were sought from the Government and again from Justice.
In view of the nature and importance of the issues raised in this
correspondence the Committee decided at the end of April that
notwithstanding the fact that by then all four sets of rules had
already been "agreed" it would conduct a brief enquiry
into the Third Country Rules.
7. The membership of
Sub-Committee E is listed in Appendix 1. The witnesses are listed
in Appendix 2. Appendix 3 sets out the text of the Third Country
Rules (Europol 26, 27, 29 and 38). Appendix 4 contains the text
of the Articles of the Europol Convention to which reference is
made in this Report. Appendix 5 contains the Confidentiality Regulations
and the Rules applicable to analysis files. The evidence, both
written and oral, is printed with the Report. The Committee would
like to thank all those who assisted in this enquiry.
1 Article 3 of the Convention, based on Article K.3
of the Treaty on European Union, on the establishment of a European
Police Office (Europol). The Convention envisages the extension
of Europol's remit to include terrorism within two years from
the entry into force of the Convention. At the Justice and Home
Affairs Council on 19 March 1998 the Council commissioned a study
to assess the implications of an earlier extension of Europol's
The Convention enters into force on the first day following the
expiry of a three-month period after notification by the last
Member State to complete its ratification (Article 45). Back
The Committee has previously considered two sets of rules and
submitted short Reports to the House for information. Europol:
Confidentiality Regulations: 1st Report, Session 1997-98,
HL Paper 9; Europol: Joint Supervisory Body: 13th Report,
Session 1997-98, HL Paper 71. Back