HC Deb 15 June 1999 vol 333 cc90-1W
Mr. Mitchell

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 20 May 1999,Official Report, columns 445–46, concerning the business conducted at the final meeting of the K4 Committee in Brussels on 29 to 30 April, if he will list (a) the 25 agenda items there considered, (b) the Treaty base, terms of reference for Eurodac, and documentary reference to rules for its implementation, and any parliamentary scrutiny related thereto and (c) where, and by what means, the proposals of the United Kingdom for mutual recognition of criminal court decisions have been published, what consultative or scrutiny procedures have taken, or are to take, place in respect of them, and what comparable proposals have been received from other member Governments. [86235]

Mr. Straw

As regards listing, the 25 agenda items considered at the K4 Committee meeting on 29–30 April, I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to him on 8 June 1999,Official Report, column 259.

The draft Eurodac Convention had as its legal base Article K3(2)(c) of the Treaty on European Union. Its purpose is to assist in determining the member state which is responsible, under the Dublin Convention, for examining an application for asylum lodged in a member state, and otherwise to facilitate the application of the Dublin Convention. The draft implementing rules were developed in the context of these proposals. The draft Convention cleared Parliamentary scrutiny in May 1998, but the draft Protocol had not cleared scrutiny when the Treaty of Amsterdam came into effect; the draft implementing rules were not subject to the parliamentary scrutiny arrangements. The European Commission has now adopted a draft Regulation under Article 63(1)(a) of the Treaty establishing the European Community replacing the draft Eurodac Convention and Protocol, but this has not yet been communicated to member states.

The United Kingdom's discussion paper on the mutual recognition of court decisions and judgments in criminal matters was submitted to the K4 Committee on 29 March. It follows up the initiative of the United Kingdom Presidency endorsed at the Cardiff European Council, the conclusions of which called on the Council to identify the scope for greater mutual recognition of decisions of each other's courts. The paper, together with an Explanatory Memorandum, was deposited for scrutiny on 31 March and a copy of both has been placed in the Library.

France and Belgium have produced jointly an informal document described as a study proposal, in preparation for the Tampere European Council, on the need to develop criminal judicial co-operation. The document calls for a common push to deal more effectively with the key concerns of citizens on organised crime, corruption and European Community budget fraud, and suggests that this could be done by instruments on money laundering, use of offshore centres by organised crime and use of new technology for cross-border crime.