Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from Rt Hon Hazel Blears MP, Minister of State, Home Office to the Chairman

  Thank you for your letter dated 18 November 2005,[187] regarding the above proposal, which explained that the document has not been cleared from scrutiny by Sub-Committee F (Home Affairs).

  As you know, the proposal to allow access by vehicle registration authorities (VRA) to the first generation Schengen Information System (SIS I) was in the form of a Regulation under Article 71 of the EC Treaty. This proposal has cleared scrutiny. The present proposal to allow access by VRA to the equivalent SIS II data is also in the form of a Regulation under Article 71 of the EC Treaty. As you say, the legal base for the proposed SIS I I Regulation has been questioned by the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) and the Schengen Joint Supervisory Authority (JSA).

  This appropriate legal base for the SIS I proposal was addressed when Caroline Flint, then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office, wrote to you on 13 January 2004 detailing the reasons for providing for access under the first pillar. We consider that the legal base issues are the same for both the SIS I proposal and the SIS II proposal—we do not consider that there is any justification for using a different legal base for the SIS II proposal.

  The aim of both proposals is to facilitate the checks that VRA have to carry out prior to registering vehicles presented to them for registration. The Community has already legislated in this area. Council Directive 1999/37 EC on the registration documents for vehicles, which is based on Article 71(1) of the EC Treaty, is primarily concerned with the harmonisation of the form and content of registration certificates as a means of facilitating the free movement of vehicles within the Community. The Directive also refers to the need to facilitate the exchange of information between VRA to enable them to carry out the necessary checks on the legal status of a vehicle prior to registering it (recital (9) and Article 9). The SIS I and the SIS II proposals take forward the process of facilitating such checks and we remain of the view that both proposals can properly be based on Article 71 EC Treaty.

28 February 2006

Letter from the Chairman to Rt Hon Hazel Blears MP

  Thank you for your letter of 28 February which Sub-Committee F (Home Affairs) of the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union considered at a meeting on 29 March.

  The Committee takes note of your position on the legal base of this proposal but does not agree that it should be valid simply because it is the same legal base of the Regulation giving vehicle registration authorities access to SIS I. We do not believe that Article 71 of the EC Treaty provides a strong legal base for this latter instrument either. It is regrettable that, in the context of current negotiations on the SIS II, the opportunity has not been taken to put this proposal on a more solid legal footing, following the advice of the data protection supervisory authorities. We will, however, not pursue the matter further and have decided to clear this document from scrutiny.

29 March 2006

187   Correspondence with Ministers, 45th Report of Session 2005-06, HL Paper 243, p 552. Back

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