§ Mr. Howard
I represented the United Kingdom at the Council in Luxembourg. In accordance with the policy outlined in my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister's statement to the House on 21 May,Official Report, columns 99–101, I was unable to agree to any decisions requiring unanimity in the Council other than those which were purely formal or procedural.
Eleven agenda items, listed in the table, were blocked as a result of the Government's policy of non-co-operation in the European Union. However, I participated fully in negotiations on the substantive issues covered by the agenda. The main matters dealt with at the Council were as follows.
The presidency reported progress in negotiations on the draft external frontiers convention and noted that two major political problems—a role for the European Court of Justice and territorial application of the convention—were outstanding.
The Council examined the three draft directives proposed by the Commission for abolishing frontier controls and giving third country nationals a right to travel in member states, known as the "Monti Package". In addition to the United Kingdom's reserve of substance on these proposals, a number of issues of concern to other member states remain to be settled. The presidency undertook to consider whether negotiation on these instruments should be primarily a matter for the Internal Market Council or the Justice and Home Affairs Council.
The Council agreed that officials should continue work on developing Eurodac, a project to establish a database of asylum seekers' fingerprints.
The Council considered a compromise proposal for conferring on the European Court of Justice optional jurisdiction to interpret the Europol convention. The presidency concluded that this matter would be studied again at the European Council in Florence.
The Council approved a report on the implementation of the Europol drugs unit budget in 1995, and deferred a decision on the development of a computer system for Europol.
The Council considered the question of participation by the European Union in the International Law Enforcement academy in Budapest (ILEA), which is managed jointly by Hungary and the USA. The presidency concluded that, in the light of opposition by France to European Union involvement in the academy, this matter required further thought.
The Council noted progress in the structured dialogue with the central and eastern European states, and a report outlining continuing action by the European Union against drugs in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Council discussed a number of outstanding issues arising from negotiations on the draft Convention on improved extradition procedures, and concluded that further work was required on these points by officials.382W
The Council discussed the question of jurisdiction for the European Court of Justice in the draft convention on corruption, and noted progress in drafting a second protocol to the convention on the protection of the Communities' financial interests.
The presidency invited member states' views on the main issues of principle remaining to be settled in relation to the draft convention on service of documents in civil and commercial matters, and referred the text for further work by officials.
- Measures blocked by the United Kingdom at the Justice and Home Affairs Council, 4 June 1996
- Recommendation on trafficking in works of art.
- Recommendation on fight against counterfeiting.
- Joint position on pre-frontier missions of assistance and information.
- Joint action on liaison officers.
- Decision on measures implementing Article K.1 of the Treaty on European Union.
- Work programme for the Europol Drugs Unit, July-December 1996.
- Budget of the Europol Drugs Unit for 1997.
- Recommendation on combating illegal employment of third country nationals.
- Joint action establishing the Directory of counter-terrorist competences.
- Resolution laying down the priorities for co-operation in the field of justice and home affairs for the period from 1 July 1996 to 30 June 1998.
- Joint position on the Hague Convention on the protection of minors.