Examination of Witnesses (Questions 460-474)|
Mr Daniel Drewer
28 NOVEMBER 2006
Q460 Lord Teverson: Are different Member
States very different in what they allow? Is there a lot of variability
between Germany and Greece, or are they all pretty similar?
Mr Drewer: I am afraid we have not made a study
of that but that is an interesting question.
Q461 Lord Teverson: What is your feeling?
Mr Drewer: I do not have information on that.
Lord Teverson: Thank you.
Lord Avebury: What third countries, institutions
and agencies are currently Europol's partners in information sharing?
What are the rules and procedures applicable to these exchanges
of information? You have partially answered that in your previous
answer but in these handling codes are there any which permit
unrestricted transfer of data to particular third countries or
Q462 Chairman: Can I add to that. What
changes would you like to see, if any, to the present rules that
govern these exchanges?
Mr Drewer: To answer your first question I can
give you the list of our operational agreements. We have operational
agreements in place with Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Eurojust,
Iceland, Interpol, Norway, Romania, Switzerland and the US. Are
you also interested in the strategic agreements for the exchange
of non-personal data?
Q463Lord Avebury: Please.
Mr Drewer: We have strategic agreements with
Colombia, the European Commission, the European Central Bank,
the European Monitoring Centre of Drugs and Drug Addiction, the
European Anti-Fraud Office, with Russia, with Turkey, the United
Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the World Customs Organisation.
With the system of the handling codes the Member State can decide
and give to Europol any handling instructions, so there is also
the possibility for a Member State to use a handling code that
is self-defined and, for the empty space on the transmission slip
of that operational information, to say that this information
should not go to that particular third country in any case or
should only go to Iceland, for example. The restrictions of the
Member States can be defined. The handling codes system is a flexible
system and Europol has to obey any restrictions the Member States
give to Europol, although the reason why we have Europol is the
exchange of information but in a secure way and under the observation
of data protection rules. We have therefore developed a system
that respects the handling instructions of the owner of that information.
Q464Chairman: Would these rules be affected
by your access to SIS data?
Mr Drewer: I do not believe so because the moment
we receive the alert and the supplementary information the system
that we have in place applies to this area.
Q465Lord Avebury: Will the handling codes be
attached to the SIS II data?
Mr Drewer: Yes. The moment the Member State
provides us with supplementary information, because that information
also has to be stored at Europol in one of our systems. It is
only possible to store information on our systems when we have
a handling code on that information. The same applies if it is
information that we get out of the Schengen Information System
that is not line in with our mandate. We cannot store it on our
systems, and there will be no further dissemination of the information
Q466Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury: In limited
circumstances, as I understand it, the Director of Europol is
permitted to exchange information in the absence of an agreement.
That is correct, is it not?
Mr Drewer: Yes.
Q467Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury: How
often has he made use of this power?
Mr Drewer: There is the possibility for him
to do so as foreseen in one of the Council Acts. There are two
conditions foreseen in which he can do this. When he decides to
do this he has to inform the Management Board and the Joint Supervisory
Body without delay about his assessment. There have been cases
in the past where the Director took this right under the Council
Act and there has been an exchange of personal data with two third
states that are now, in fact, our co-operation partners and who
have an agreement. But at that time they had no agreement. Before
2005 there were two cases. Since I became Data Protection Officer
in 2005 there have been no such cases and since our new Director,
Mr Ratzel, joined Europol in 2005 there have been no cases.
Q468Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury: You
mentioned two conditions, what are they?
Mr Drewer: The two conditions are from the Council
Act: I believe one is in the essential interest of the Member
State and there is a second condition, 2 but I will have to look
in the legal text More important is paragraph 4 of the Council
Act because it is outlined there that the Director has to inform
the Management Board and JSB of his assessment.
Q469 Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury:
So before he does anything?
Mr Drewer: No. You can imagine that these are
decisions taken as a matter of urgency. He takes the decision
on the basis of the catalogue that is in the Council Act and later
on he has to inform the Management Board without undue delaythat
is written in the legal textthat he took the decision and,
in addition, he has to inform them of his assessment of the situation
when he took the decision to disseminate the data. There were
two cases with two of the third states: they are now co-operation
partners with operational agreements to exchange personal data.
Q470 Earl of Caithness: Can I ask you
a question which you have not got notice of. There have been a
lot of complaints about the quality of the data in SIS I. Have
you found difficulty with the quality of the data and has it made
your job any more difficult?
Mr Drewer: I believe I cannot answer this question
since we have no access to the Schengen Information
2 Council Act of 12 March 1999, adopting the
rules governing the transmission of personal date by Europol to
third states and third bodies (1999/C 88/01). Article 16 foresees
the condition "in the interest of preventing imminent danger
associated with crime".
System. We know about the discussion on the quality
of data, which is also a data protection question.
Q471 Earl of Caithness: Looking forward,
is there an input that Europol can make to make certain that the
quality of information is what you require to enable you to do
your job better so you can direct Member States in that direction?
Mr Drewer: Europol's Director is in the position
of having an obligation to look at the quality of the data that
we enter into our systems. If the future shows that the data quality
is not sufficient then we would have a data protection issue when
taking this data into our systems. For this we have a system at
Europol called an evaluation code for the information where the
sending Member State tells us about the reliability of the information.
If you talk about the accuracy of the information, this is something
we have to look at as soon as the information comes to us: is
the information accurate and can it be processed in our systems.
From our point of view these are not Schengen specific questions.
These are questions that we have to answer whenever we receive
Member States' information.
Q472 Chairman: One of the points of particular
interest to this Committee is the implications of British partial
opt-in or partial opt-out of Schengen. Have you got any comments,
and by all means go off the record if you prefer, on the implications
for Europol of the British partial membership of Schengen?
Mr Drewer: No, I do not. We do not have access
yet to the Schengen system. We are not that far, and SIS II will
take quite some time. It is not a question that a Data Protection
Officer can answer because it is very much connected to the operational
side of the business of law enforcement exchange.
Q473 Chairman: How about your relationship
with sire"ne or SIRENE, however we pronounce it?
Mr Drewer: We do not have a direct relationship
since we always have to exchange via a European national unit.
Our requests for more information go to the European national
unit and then they contact the national SIRENE office. That is
the way the information is channelled.
Q474 Chairman: I see. Mr Drewer, we are
very grateful to you. Again, I thank you for coming here from
The Hague to talk to us. If I may, I would like to thank and congratulate
you on the concise and very helpful way in which you have dealt
with our questions.
Mr Drewer: Thank you very much.
Chairman: I wish you a safe and happy
journey back. Thank you so much.