HL Deb 22 March 1999 vol 598 c133WA
Baroness Thornton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Following the conclusion of the General Affairs Council of the European Union meeting on 7 December, whether they will list (a) the adaptations necessary to the working structures in Justice and Home Affairs, and for what purposes; (b) when the changes were discussed at the meeting of the K4 Committee and who represented Her Majesty's Government; and (c) what instructions they have given to the United Kingdom Permanent Representatives on the Coreper in respect of its remit to prepare for the necessary changes. [HL1657]

Lord Williams of Mostyn

The conclusions of the General Affairs Council (GAC) on 7 December 1998 relate to preparation of the implementation of the Amsterdam Treaty.

It has been recognised for some time that the provisions of the Treaty of Amsterdam have legal and practical implications for Council working structures in the field of justice and home affairs (JHA). Whilst the JHA Council will maintain political oversight over all JHA areas, including those transferring to the First Pillar, adjustments will need to be made to working structures below the level of the Council. The main change arises from the fact that the co-ordinating committee under Article 36 of the revised Treaty on European Union which will replace the present K4 Committee will, unlike that Committee, have no responsibility for the matters transferring to the First Pillar. In the interests of ensuring effective co-ordination of future work on immigration, asylum and border controls, and on civil judicial co-operation, it has been decided to create new groups to assure such co-ordination. The opportunity has also been taken to review lower level working structures, with a view to achieving greater coherence and efficiency and to incorporating Schengen working structures into the Council structures. A number of changes to working groups have now been agreed, for implementation when the Amsterdam Treaty enters into force.

These matters have been discussed in the K4 Committee on a number of occasions, most recently at the meeting on 23–24 February, where the United Kingdom was represented by Mr. John Warne, Director of the Organised and International Crime Directorate at the Home Office.

The Presidency's proposals were approved by the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) on 17 March. It was also agreed that Coreper would review the new working structures at the end of the year 2000.