Select Committee on European Union Fifth Report


Letter from the Home Secretary, the Right Honourable Jack Straw MP, to the Presidency of the Council (Document No: 8562/99, SCHENGEN 56)

  At the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 12 March I announced that the United Kingdom intended to exercise the provision in Article 4 of the Schengen Protocol by seeking to participate in those measures of the Schengen acquis, now integrated into the EU Treaties, that relate to law-enforcement and criminal judicial co-operation, including the SIS. I was most grateful for the positive response you gave to this announcement and I am happy to submit with this letter the United Kingdom's written application to participate in these areas.

  The application is one part of the UK's wider intention to participate in all aspects of JHA co-operation which are consistent with the UK's different policy on frontier controls, as set out in a protocol of the Amsterdam Treaty. I am clear that it is very much in our interests to co-operate at a European level in this area of activity. We also believe that the UK has a valuable contribution to make, to the benefit of EU partners, in the areas covered by this application and in future measures in the fields of police and judicial co-operation, asylum and immigration.

  The application takes the form of a list of Articles and supplementary acquis in which the United Kingdom is seeking to participate (annexed to this letter). This is accompanied by a commentary, setting out our position on a number of Articles of the Schengen Implementing Covention that will require legislative or operational change before they can take effect in the United Kingdom. We will of course discuss with the Presidency, Commission and other partners the precise nature of our participation in these areas and the extent of any transition periods we require.

  I understand that my colleague John O'Donoghue is submitting a parallel application. We are continuing to discuss the difficult and sensitive issues of cross-border surveillance and hot pursuit with our Irish colleagues.

  I am sure that the United Kingdom will continue to enjoy the full support of Germany in its continued and determined efforts to play the fullest possible part in the development of future European co-operation.

  I am copying this letter and enclosure to Justice Minister Daubler-Gmelin, to Anita Gradin and Mario Monti in the Commission and to Charles Elsen in the Council Secretariat.

20 May 1999

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