Examination of Witnesses (Questions 440-444)|
28 NOVEMBER 2006
Q440 Chairman: The northern dimension
is a very good example which was discussed in Helsinki last week.
Mr Faull: Exactly. There is a northern dimension,
there is a southern dimension and there is an eastern dimension.
The Mediterranean countries have problems which are not the same
all the time as those faced by the Nordic countries, and that
obviously makes sense. There I think one does see the expansion
of the Union at play. Nevertheless, most of the big issues and
challenges we face when we look at the wider world are common
to us all and that is why I believe that most of the time the
European institutions are the ones which work and should be used.
I have no dogmatic objection to the practice of groups of Member
States meeting to talk about operational matters and, indeed,
to begin talking about rules which one day can become Community
rules. There are all sorts of issues which you highlighted in
your report about accountability and transparency. We may be criticised
in the authentic institutional framework for some of our shortcomings
in transparency and accountability but at least we have rules.
They may not always be the right ones, they may not always be
fully complied with, in which case you should rap us over the
knuckles, but we have them, some of these groups do not really
have them and clearly that is an issue which may cause concern.
We are generally of the view that the institutions are well tested
and should be made to work by all concerned. If good ideas come
from elsewhere we are not proud, we will consider them, and if
they are the right ones we will seek to extend them to everybody
Q441 Lord Teverson: Forgive me, Director,
if I could come back to the Portuguese issue again. If SIS I is
extended in terms of numbers of Member States it can cope with
then is there not a temptation, if that has been achieved, that
you just bolt-on the extra information fields in terms of biometric
information on to that SIS I system? You have taken away the political
momentum in terms of SIS II so to avoid all the issues of systems
development that we have talked about is there not a temptation
just to add another bit on that gets over the problem altogether?
Dr Paul: Technically that is simply not possible.
The big advantage of SIS II is that it provides more flexibility,
it is more easily scaleable, et cetera, whereas SIS I dates back
in its architectural conception to the early 1990s which in terms
of IT is really the Stone Age. We are now moving towards a much
more flexible system and it would simply be impossible to incorporate
any biometrics in the present system. If you want the new functionalities,
there is no choice. That is also interlinking alerts, which is
very important to be more efficient in finding people and solving
crimes. There is no choice but to move to a more flexible system
and SIS II will provide exactly that.
Q442 Lord Avebury: You talk about the
Prüm system being brought into the framework of European
law together with its own data protection regime that applies
to it and at the same time in parallel you have got the DPFD being
developed to correspond with the principle of availability. Is
it not going to be extremely confusing to have more than one data
protection regime applying to similar types of data? Would not
the logical outcome of bringing the Prüm Treaty into European
law be to apply the DPFD to its provisions as well?
Mr Faull: Yes, you are absolutely right, it
would be vastly preferable to have one system that everybody can
operate and live with. It comes down to a question of timing:
will the data protection Framework Decision be in place when Prüm
comes in? I do not know. We do not know precisely when the Framework
Decision will be adopted and we do not know how the domestication
of Prüm will work in timing terms either. It is better to
have some data protection than none at all but ultimately the
whole thrust of our proposal for the Framework Decision is that
there should be one universal regime, if you like, for data protection
in third pillar issues.
Chairman: Director-General, we have imposed
on your time and generosity. I think there is one quick supplementary
question from Lord Listowel to which we invite a quick reply.
Q443 Earl of Listowel: I would be very
grateful if you did have time to answer this question. I apologise
for not giving you notice in writing beforehand. The Hague Programme
indicated that there will be a proposal from the Commission to
supplement the existing Schengen evaluations with a supervisory
mechanism ensuring the full involvement of Member States' experts
and including unannounced inspections. Could you tell us more
about this? This was a particular concern raised by the Deputy
Information Commissioner in our country about the monitoring process
rather than the evaluation before. If you prefer to write to me
after the Committee that would be very welcome.
Mr Faull: I will. What I can tell you immediately
is that we have not yet made that proposal. I will very happily
write to you and tell you exactly where we stand in the preparation.
I do not think very far because it has not crossed my desk.
Q444 Chairman: Director-General, when
you see the transcript if there are other things that you think
will be helpful for us for you to follow up in writing we would
be very grateful if you would send it to us. May I express warm
gratitude for the way in which all three of you have dealt with
our questions. It is very nice to have seen you again. I have
no doubt that this Committee will have further contact with you
and your Directorate-General. Thank you very much, and again thank
you for coming here to give your evidence. It has been very nice
to see the three of you.
Mr Faull: I should perhaps disclose that I shall
spend this afternoon in the company of colleagues of yours from
the other place.
Chairman: Indeed. Word had reached us
to that effect. Can I wish you and them good luck. Thank you very