Examination of Witnesses (Questions 475
WEDNESDAY 16 JULY 2008
Rt Hon Tony McNulty MP and Mr Peter Storr
Minister, welcome. It is good of your to come. You will be aware
that the committee has been conducting an inquiry on Europol for
the last few weeks. We are grateful to you and to Mr Storr, who
came to talk to us earlier, which was extremely helpful. You realise
that this is on the record. If, after the meeting, you would want
to add anything on reflection to what you have said to us, we
would welcome that most warmly. I wonder if at the beginning on
a somewhat sour note I could ask you when you go back to your
department if you might say to Mr Byrne that this committee is
less than happy that we received a reply from him on 7 July to
a letter which Lord Grenfell wrote him on 26 July last year. This
really has got to improve. If you could maybe in ministerial meetings
discuss this with the Secretary of State and the ministerial team,
if you do what I think most ministers certainly in my time did,
it would be most helpful if you would say that we really cannot
wait nearly a year for a reply to letters. It just will not do.
I suggest we do not pursue it now. I just wanted to make the point.
Mr McNulty: May I say in passing that
I will take that back in the strongest terms, not least because
myself and Meg Hillier have tried to make huge advances in the
relationships between both Lord Grenfell's committee and the equivalent
in the Commons in terms of all our dealings: the paperwork, what
is reserved and what is not reserved. It is to my dismay that
I recognise that Liam and his team have been so dilatory. I will
take that back to him in the strongest terms.
Thank you. Minister, talking about European Union police cooperation,
to what extent have Member States provided a coordinating framework
for the operational aspects of various bodies like Europol, Eurojust
and the European Police College, which are set up under Title
VI of the Treaty on police and judicial cooperation in criminal
Mr McNulty: You will know in the informal
sense they are all set up under the framework of the five-year
work programme for Justice and Home Affairs under the oversight
I think of an Article 36 committee, but we try formally and informally
to encourage as much coordination between Eurojust, Europol and
the Police College, because we think that is in the interests
of Member States and indeed of the institutions themselves. You
will know we are at this kind of crossroads in the wake of the
Irish referendum in terms of what may or may not prevail in terms
of new architecture post the Lisbon Treaty. It is not for me to
speculate as to what form or otherwise that may take after the
When one looks at the Europol decision, which discusses a truce,
Europol's relations with Eurojust on the level of a partnership,
could you tell us whether the Council did consider aligning the
legal frameworks of the two agencies in order to create a more
effective intelligence-led policing model?
Mr McNulty: I think, to be fair, they
are not the same legal frameworks, as you know. We think that
the current legal framework for each reflects their distinct role.
I visited both in The Hague and I do know and appreciate that
co-location helps enormously in terms of the two working together
in partnership. I think the Council conclusion's agreed last month
aimed at improving cooperation between the two organisations to
get them in the place where they can agree a cooperation agreement
before the end of 2008. So I do not think I would dwell on the
distinct nature of their respective legal frameworks. I think
there are other ways in which we can get them working together
and working together far more effectively.
Is it too late for them to be co-located in the same building?
Mr McNulty: They are already, as I understand
it. They certainly were when I went to visit them.
This is not what we were told.
Mr McNulty: They are in different buildings,
yes, but very close together.
Chairman: There was a great deal of criticism.
The buildings are close together and when we were there we were
told that it would be far better if there be one building in which
they both were. I think it was an internal decision within The
Netherlands that this did not happen. I just wonder whether you
think it is possible to go back on that because this committeeand
I am giving what I think is the view of the committeefeels
that it would be far better if they had been in one building.