HC Deb 17 June 2002 vol 387 cc114-5W
Mr. Bercow

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the mandate of the Committee on the system for comparison of fingerprints for the effective application of the Dublin Convention (Eurodac) is; how many times it has met over the last 12 months; what the UK representation on it is; what the annual cost of its work is to public funds; if he will list the items currently under its consideration; if he will take steps to increase its accountability and transparency to Parliament; and if he will make a statement. [58453]

Beverley Hughes

The Committee established by Article 23 of the EURODAC Regulation assists the Commission in accordance with Articles 5 and 7 of the Council Decision laying down the procedures for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission (199/468/EC).

Article 22 of the EURODAC Regulation specifies that the EURODAC Central Unit may be charged with carrying out statistical tasks on the basis of data processed at the Central Unit, other than those already specified in Article 3(3) of the Regulation. In these circumstances the additional statistical measures are to be adopted in accordance with the procedure of the Committee. All the important implementing powers were reserved to the Council, such as agreement on the EURODAC Implementing Rules, which were adopted by Council on 28 February 2002.

The EURODAC system is not yet operational. There are no immediate plans for the Committee to meet, but if it does the United Kingdom will be represented by a Home Office official and an official from the United Kingdom Permanent Representation in Brussels. The work of the Committee is funded by the European Community budget and travel costs to attend Committee meetings are met by the European Commission. The Home Office pays a subsistence allowance to cover attendance at a Committee meeting.

The Commission is required to prepare annual reports on the implementation work of the Committee, which are submitted to the Council and European Parliament. The reports are also published on the EUROPA internet website. I do not see a need for further measures to increase the Committee's accountability and transparency.