Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from the Chairman to Rt Hon Charles Clarke MP, Home Secretary, Home Office

  Sub-Committee F (Home Affairs) of the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union considered this document at a meeting on 29 March.

  We agree that many of the objections you raise in your Explanatory Memorandum appear to be well founded. The added value is doubtful, and the resources involved potentially considerable. While we are not qualified to assess the security implications, we appreciate the concerns listed in paragraph 12 of the memorandum. We note that adoption of this Decision requires unanimity, and believe that the Government should not accept this proposal unless and until satisfied with it on security and other grounds.

  We would be glad to be kept informed of developments, and propose for the present to keep the document under scrutiny.

29 March 2006

Letter from Rt Hon Charles Clarke MP to the Chairman

  I am writing in reply to your letter of 29 March, following my Explanatory Memorandum on the proposed Council Decision. Your Committee said that the document would be kept under scrutiny, and indicated that they would like to be kept informed on developments. As the proposal for a Council Decision was formally discussed at the Article 36 Committee for the first time on 11-12 April, I am now able to provide you with an update.

  Having been adopted by the Commission on 22 December 2005, the draft Council Decision was officially submitted to the Council on 16 January 2006. Since then, we have been considering this proposal in consultation with colleagues from other Member States.

  Whilst we are in principle open to ideas for developing information exchange at EU level, we remain of the view that this particular proposal is unnecessary and potentially damaging to security within the European Union, and that the case for a new mechanism for the exchange of information, and the added value of such arrangements, has not been made. This was a view shared by other Member States. Indeed, at the Article 36 meeting on 11-12 April, no single Member State was prepared to speak in its favour.

  Since then, we have submitted written comments to this effect, reaffirming our belief that, as a matter of principle, the EU should not legislate on the activities of Member States' security and intelligence agencies or on the use of their sensitive information. This would still be the case whatever adjustments were made to the detail of the Commission's proposal.

  Given the level of opposition from other Member States with which the proposed Council Decision has been met to date we do not expect it to proceed, but will keep you informed of any further developments.

5 May 2006

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