Select Committee on European Communities Second Report


Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee to Kate Hoey MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Home Office

  Sub-Committee F (Social Affairs, Education and Home Affairs) has considered the Presidency's draft Guidelines for an EU Migration Strategy and has decided to clear the document from scrutiny, subject to clarification of two points.

  The first concerns the allocation of responsibilities within the new Commission. Will there be a single Commissioner responsible for migration policy?

  The second concerns the possible replacement of the Dublin Convention by a Community instrument (paragraph 19). How would this affect the UK if the Government decided not to exercise its right of opt-in under the Protocol on the Position of the United Kingdom and Ireland? Similarly, can you explain the position as regards the Convention if Denmark does not opt in to Title IV of the EC Treaty?

  The Sub-Committee notes that the draft Guidelines raise important questions as to the scope and direction of an EU migration policy and would wish to encourage the Government to consult widely.

22 July 1999

Letter from Barbara Roche MP, Minister of State, Home Office to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  Thank you for confirming that Sub-Committee F is prepared to clear the European Migration Strategy document from scrutiny, subject to clarification of two points.

  Whereas previously, various parts of the Justice and Home Affairs remit were split between different Commissioners, I understand that the intention is that all JHA issues (including migration) will now be dealt with primarily by Commissioner Antonio Vitorino. There may still be some overlap, however, with the Enlargement and Employment and Social Affairs portfolios, and with the new External Relations Commissioner's area of responsibility.

  It is unlikely that a Community instrument to replace the Dublin Convention will be brought forward for some time, as the Commission wish first to see a parallel agreement to the Dublin Convention negotiated with Norway and Iceland. In the event that a measure were to be adopted which the UK decided not to opt into, much would depend on the position at the time. As regards the UK and (together) the other Member States (subject to the position of Ireland and Denmark), Dublin could continue as an international instrument. Or it could be ended. There could be a new international agreement between the UK and the Member States party to the new measure paralleling that measure. Much will depend on the content of any Community instrument.

  As we understand the operation of Denmark's Protocol, Denmark may decide to opt in to any new measure under the new Title IV only where the measure proposed is a development of the Schengen acquis. Denmark may then give effect to any such Title IV measure only by means of international law, not as a Community instrument. Where a Title IV measure is not a development of the Schengen acquis, Denmark could negotiate a parallel agreement to any EC instrument replacing Dublin. The Dublin Convention continues to apply to Denmark in the absence of any alternative international agreement, unless it agrees to give up such rights and obligations.

  Asim 23 has now been revised as Asim 28. I enclose a copy for your information.

3 August 1999

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