Select Committee on European Union Forty-Ninth Report

DRUG TRAFFICKING (5382/02 & 5563/02)

Letter from the Chairman to Ms Dawn Primarolo MP, Paymaster General, HM Treasury, Treasury Chambers

  Sub-Committee E (Law and Institutions) considered the proposal at its meeting on 15 May. We agree with the Government in questioning the need for a new EU Convention, in view of the relatively recent international—and EU—initiatives in this area. The Spanish Government justifies the proposal by the need for speedy action (which is delayed by the requirement to obtain authorisation). But no specific examples are given of cases where co-operation has been—or could be—hampered by the existing legal framework and we would welcome any information on problems that have arisen in this context.

  We note that a number of its provisions (in particular those on intervention without authorisation and on jurisdiction) may seriously impinge on national sovereignty. You note in your EM that the proposal raises some difficult legal and constitutional issues. We would be grateful if you could identify these issues and describe the Government's position in any further EM dealing with the proposal.

  The Committee decided to retain the documents under scrutiny.

16 May 2002

Letter from Ms Dawn Primarolo MP, Paymaster General, HM Treasury, Treasury Chambers, to the Chairman

  Thank you for your letter of 16 May following Sub-Committee E's consideration of the proposal referred to in EM 5382/02 and 5563/02. The Committee asked for further information on the legal and constitutional problems and how it is proposed to overcome them.

  As stated in the Explanatory Memorandum, the adoption of the Spanish proposal would create a number of legal and constitutional problems for the UK. These concerns include the relinquishment of sovereignty over vessels flying the British flag, albeit on a temporary basis, particular issues for the relationship between Spain and Gibraltar over vessels destined for that UK territory, questions about the position of UK military vessels and other Government owned assets.

  However, no detailed or comprehensive analysis of these issues has been undertaken as it has become increasingly clear that other Member States also have reservations about the proposals and the issue is unlikely to be picked up strenuously by the new Presidency.

  The Government proposes to encourage the better use of existing procedures such as improved administration and co-operation including the enhancement of authorisation processes where necessary, once the present proposal is dispensed with.

16 July 2002

Letter from the Chairman to Ms Dawn Primarolo MP, Paymaster General, HM Treasury, Treasury Chambers

  Thank you for your letter of 16 July. The Committee is grateful for the further information you have supplied.

  We note that a number of Member States have reservations about the Spanish proposals. The Committee agrees with the Government that it might be more profitable to look for an alternative way of addressing the practical problems which have given rise to the Spanish initiative.

  The Committee decided to retain the document under scrutiny for the time being. We would be grateful if you could keep us informed of developments, in particular what steps are being taken to obtain the withdrawal of the Spanish proposals.

29 July 2002

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