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  • Response of the European Commission to 13370/99 EUROPOL 48

    EXTRACTED TEXT FROM:

    COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION

    8 February 2000

    5845/00

    LIMITE

    EUROPOL 1

    NOTE from General Secretariat to Europol Working Party

    No. prev. doc.:  13370/99 EUROPOL 48

    Subject :  Comments by delegations to the “First reflections concerning the Tampere Conclusions as far as they relate to Europol” as contained in doc. 13370/99 EUROPOL 48

    ANNEX II

    RESPONSE BY THE COMMISSION

    The Commission first of all wishes to congratulate the Presidency to this very thoughtful analysis of the Tampere Conclusions and to underline that it fully agrees with most of its contents.

    Nevertheless, we feel that a few passages require some additional considerations of which we inform you in the following:

    1. Recommendation 45

    As far as recommendation No. 45 of the Tampere Conclusions to provide Europol with the necessary support and resources is concerned, the provisions of Article 41 paragraph 2 TEU cannot be left aside but should be positively highlighted because of their very practical implications for the resources to be made available to Europol.

    This provision foresees that the administrative expenditure which the provisions relating to the areas referred to in Title VI entail for the institutions shall be in principle charged to the budget of the European Communities.

    Paragraph 3 foresees that also the operational expenditure to which the implementation of those provisions gives rise shall be charged to the budget of the European Communities, except where the Council acting unanimously decides otherwise. In cases, in which the expenditure is not charged to the budget of the European Communities, it shall be charged to the Member States in accordance with the gross national product scale, unless the Council acting unanimously decides otherwise.

    Even if it is questionable whether Europol can be considered as a “organ” in the sense of the Treaties of the European Community, the question occurs to what extent at least the “operational” expenditure of Europol should be charged to the budget of the European Communities. In this context, likewise, the question occurs to what extent one could distinguish between “administrative” and “operational” expenditures and to what extent such a distinction would be practicable at all.

    I thus propose to add some text to that effect, best after point a) on page 3. The Commission would be glad to suggest some language, if you wish so.

    2. Recommendation 46

    Regarding recommendation 46, setting up EUROJUST, composed of national prosecutors, magistrates or police officers of equivalent competence, to facilitate the proper co-ordination of national prosecuting authorities, supporting criminal investigations in organised crime cases, notably based on Europol’s analysis, as well as co-operating closely with the EJN, I want to draw your attention to two major aspects:

    This is, firstly, the recommendation of the Committee for Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs of the European Parliament on the strengthening of the parliamentary control and the extension of the powers of Europol, which was issued on 23 February 1999.

    It should be noted that the European Parliament in the so-called “Nassauer-report” is requesting for more democratic controls on Europol if this police body will get the responsibility to initiate cross-border investigations. Furthermore, the Parliament has asked that Europol should be subordinated under the responsibility of a member of the European Commission who would himself be placed under the supervision of the Parliament. The report also insisted for the creation of a European public prosecutor’s office instructing Europol.

    In his hearing in front of the Committee on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs Mr. Vitorino had agreed that the Parliament should have a specific role to play in the monitoring of Europol.

    And this is, secondly, the general question, whether the establishment of an European public prosecutor’s office and a penal competence of the ECJ would be long-term objectives of these efforts. It is the Commission’s view that with this particular question should be dealt with in general only after having got an agreement on enlarging the competencies of Europol to further operational and executive powers that are going beyond the possibilities for which the Europol Convention and also the Amsterdam Treaty is providing for for the time being.

    But you would agree that financial crime, and money laundering in particular, needs urgent attention. Our financial institutions, our law enforcement agencies and our regulators have to combine their efforts at national and Union level. Protecting the Euro against fraud adds a new and important dimension. And the protection of the Community’s financial interests offers an interesting and appropriate first area for introducing the idea of a European Public Prosecutor. This would neither change the substance of the law nor the procedural law in each Member State; it would simply ensure that action is taken rapidly and in a consistent way where relevant in the Union. Previous initiatives have shown the advantage of concentrating on a politically urgent sector to foster progress that may, afterwards, inspire or serve as a model on a broader scale.

    The recommendation to create a European public prosecutor was made in 1997 in the corpus juris study established by independent experts. In the area of protection of specific Community interests the urgency, the necessity and the legitimacy of a public prosecutor is quite evident because of the nature and the importance of the protected interests, and the particular responsibilities, which rest upon the Union and its institutions. The setting up of a European public prosecutor must in particular be accomplished before the accession of new Member States. This approach is without prejudice to the general aim of improving the efficiency of transnational prosecution throughout the European Union in areas that are of major concern for the union and its Member States. Such target would have to be adressed with the parallel development of EUROJUST, whose scope of activities would correspond to the activities of Europol.

    3. Recommendation 44

    Regarding recommendation No. 44 of the Tampere Conclusions to establishing a European Police Chiefs operational Task Force to exchange, in co-operation with Europol, experience, best practices and information on current trends in cross-border crime and contribute to the planning of operative actions, it is the Commission’s view that the Council Working Group on Police Co-operation would be an appropriate floor for such a group. The scope and the implementation of this recommendation are not limited to issues falling into the restricted area of the Europol mandate. One could imagine that this group could also deal with operational security issues (organisation / co-ordination of

    international mass events – football games, fares, manifestations, etc.) and operational and technical aspects of prevention and urban delinquency, as with operational issues falling under the remit of police-co-operation within the Schengen framework. As far as Europol matters will be concerned, a co-ordination with Europol would be guaranteed by the Article 36 Committee, or, within the Member States via the Europol Heads of National Units or the delegates in the Europol Working Group and the members of the Europol Management Board.

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    Source of this document: SEMDOC database

    Statewatch European Monitoring and Documentation Centre

    e-mail: office@statewatch.org