Wednesday, 6 June 2007

The “1984” European Police

Recently, the European Commission has been proposing radical revisions into the future direction and governance of the European Law Enforcement Organisation (EUROPOL), including the governance of cross-border serious crime and coordinating data on individuals. The House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee (ESC) has been carefully analysing the European Commission proposal for a Council Decision to replace the previous Europol Convention with all the amendments already incorporated in the three Protocols, as well as some new provisions. The Commission hopes to establish the EUROPOL as a separate EU agency. The Commission has also proposed that EUROPOL’s competence should not be limited to cross-border organised crime and that it should extend EUROPOL’s mandate to any serious cross border crime.

The Minister of State at the Home Office, Mr Tony McNulty, has explained his concerns about EUROPOL being funded from the Community budget – which would lead to the UK losing its influence over EUROPOL’s budget. Moreover, the Minister of State believes that the proposal for the Community Staff Regulations to apply to EUROPOL’s staff might increase the EUROPOL’s budget.

The House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee (ESC) also believes that the Commission has not provided enough justification regarding EUROPOL’s mandate being extended to serious cross-border crimes. The Committee is very concerned that "serious crime" is defined as the offences listed in Annex I of the Draft Decision. The ESC believes as there is no EU broad definition of the offences it would be difficult to individuals to know whether – under the Decision proposal – EUROPOL would be entitled to hold information about them. Furthermore, it would be also difficult for Member States to know if they are or not obliged to provide EUROPOL with an individual’s personal data.

Therefore, this extension of power needs to be not only limited but accurately defined. According to the Government, the introduction of EC Staff Regulations and community financing would not bring operational benefits to EUROPOL, but it would actually increase costs. A decision on Europol’s future financing and staff regulations is expected to be taken by the Council this June.

More information? We have also reported on both EUROPOL and the European Arrest Warrant in the most recent issue [May-June] of The European Journal.

No comments: