Luxembourg, 2-3 June 2005
8849/05 (Presse 114)
2664th Council meeting
President Mr Luc FRIEDEN, Minister for Justice, Minister for the
Treasury and the Budget, Minister for Defence
RETENTION OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS DATA 6
EUROPEAN EVIDENCE WARRANT 6
EVALUATION OF THE EUROPEAN ARREST WARRANT 7
ACTION PLAN IMPLEMENTING THE HAGUE PROGRAMME 8
ACTION PLAN TO COMBAT TERRORISM 9
EUROPEAN POLICE COLLEGE (CEPOL) 9
COOPERATION WITH LIBYA ON MIGRATION ISSUES - Council conclusions 10
OTHER BUSINESS 14
– External Borders Agency 14
– Relations with the Western Balkans 14
Combating racism and xenophobia 14
Mixed Committee 14
OTHER ITEMS APPROVED
JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS
Fight against vehicle crime 15
COMMON VISA POLICY
Visa requirement - Reciprocity mechanism* 15
Schengen evaluation of the ten new Member States, and of Spain and Italy 15
Western Balkans - Participation in Community programmes 16
The Governments of the Member States and the European Commission were represented as follows:
Mr Patrick DEWAEL Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Interior
Ms Laurette ONKELINX Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Justice
Mr František BUBLAN Minister for the Interior
Mr Pavel NĚMEC Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Justice
Ms Lene ESPERSEN Minister for Justice
Ms Rikke HVILSHØJ Minister for Refugees, Immigration and Integration
Mr Otto SCHILY Federal Minister for the Interior
Ms Brigitte ZYPRIES Federal Minister for Justice
Mr Rein LANG Minister for Justice
Mr Kalle LAANET Minister for the Interior
Mr Anastasis PAPALIGOURAS Minister for Justice
Mr Antonio CAMACHO VIZCAÍNO State Secretary for Security
Ms Ana Maria DE MIGUEL LANGA Deputy State Secretary, Ministry of Justice
Mr Pierre SELLAL Permanent representative
Mr Michael McDOWELL Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform
Mr Roberto CASTELLI Minister for Justice
Mr Doros THEODOROU Minister for Justice and Public Order
Mr Ēriks JĒKABSONS Minister for the Interior
Ms Solvita ĀBOLTIŅA Minister for Justice
Mr Gintaras Jonas FURMANAVIČIUS Minister for the Interior
Mr Gintautas BUŽINSKAS Minister for Justice
Mr Luc FRIEDEN Minister for Justice, Minister for the Treasury and the Budget, Minister for Defence
Mr Nicolas SCHMIT Minister with responsibility for Foreign Affairs and Immigration
Mr Miklós HANKÓ FARAGÓ Political State Secretary, Ministry of Justice
Mr Tonio BORG Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Justice and Home Affairs
Mr Piet Hein DONNER Minister for Justice
Ms Rita VERDONK Minister for Immigration and Integration
Ms Liese PROKOP Federal Minister for the Interior
Ms Karin MIKLAUTSCH Federal Minister for Justice
Mr Pawel DAKOWSKI Deputy State Secretary, Ministry of the Interior and Administration
Mr Sylweriusz KRÓLAK Deputy State Secretary, Ministry of Justice
Mr António COSTA Minister of State at the Ministry of the Interior
Mr Alberto COSTA Minister for Justice
Mr Dragotin MATE Minister for the Interior
Mr Lovro ŠTURM Minister for Justice
Mr Vladimir PALKO Minister for the Interior
Mr Daniel LIPŠIC Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Justice
Mr Kari RAJAMÄKI Minister for the Interior
Mr Johannes KOSKINEN Minister for Justice
Mr Thomas BODSTRÖM Minister for Justice
Ms Barbro HOLMBERG Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with responsibility for Migration Policy
Mr Charles CLARKE Home Secretary
Baroness ASHTON of UPHOLLAND Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Constitutional Affairs
General Secretariat of the Council:
Mr Gijs de VRIES EU Counter-terrorism Coordinator
Mr Franco FRATTINI Vice-President
The governments of the acceding States were represented as follows:
Mr Anton STANKOV Minister for Justice
Mr Boyko KOTZEV Deputy Minister for the Interior
Mr Vasile BLAGA Minister for Administration and the Interior
Mr Florin SANDU State Secretary, Ministry of the Interior
This Framework Decision aims to facilitate judicial co-operation in criminal matters by approximating Member States' legislation on the retention of data processed and stored by providers of a publicly available electronic communications service or a public communications network, for the purpose of prevention, investigation, detection and prosecution of crime or criminal offences.
With the aim of finalising the draft Framework Decision rapidly, the Council held an exchange of views on certain key issues, in particular the list of data to be retained, the length of the retention period, and the legal basis for the act.
Following the debate, the Presidency concluded that delegations could agree on a course of action and certain key elements of the Framework Decision:
This item will be addressed again at the informal meeting of Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs to take place in September under the United Kingdom Presidency.
The European Evidence Warrant is a judicial decision issued by a competent authority of a Member State with a view to obtaining objects, documents and data from another Member State for use in proceedings.
The Council held a policy debate on two questions relating to this draft Framework Decision: the territoriality clause and the question of possible inclusion of a provision on computer data in the territory of another Member State.
The JHA Council had discussed the need for a territoriality clause at its meeting on 24 February 2005 and agreed that the text should contain such a clause but decided to discuss the scope and exact wording of the clause at a subsequent meeting.
The present wording provides that a European Evidence Warrant may be refused if it relates to criminal offences which:
Several delegations considered that the inclusion of such a territoriality clause would involve too great a limitation on mutual assistance in criminal matters.
The other question related to the possibility of obtaining computer information from another Member State for procedural purposes. The majority of delegations considered that judicial cooperation questions in this area should be dealt with more fully in a separate instrument and that it would be desirable to gain greater experience first with the application of other instruments, such as the 2000 Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and the 2001 Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime.
The Council took note of the Commission report of 23 February 2005 (6815/05) on its evaluation of the European arrest warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States and of the replies from Member States.
The Commission's report substantiates the generally held view that the implementation of this first instrument on mutual recognition has, in practical terms, been a demonstrable success. It cites, by way of example, the fact that whilst safeguarding the fundamental rights of the accused person, the average time taken for surrender has now fallen from 9 months, under the pre-existing extradition system, to a period of just 43 days at present (and a mere 13-day average in cases where consent to surrender has been forthcoming). It will be appreciated that this of itself is of great importance to the administration of justice and to the victims of crime in general. The Commission also noted that in excess of 2 600 warrants had been issued at the time of the report, making this an instrument of great practical importance.
Notwithstanding this success, several politically important questions came to light when the legislative measures taken by the Member States to transpose the framework Directive on the European arrest warrant were examined, viz.:
The Council invited the Commission to report further to it by June 2006 on the steps undertaken by Member States on the basis of the policy orientations retained by the Council, with a view to enhancing the compliance of their national legislation with the Framework Decision as well as on the application of the European arrest warrant. When drafting the report, the Commission will take into account the information provided by Member States.
The Council recommended that an early practical evaluation of the application of the European arrest warrant and corresponding surrender procedures between Member States be conducted (e.g. on the basis of statistical data).
In response to the request from the European Council, the Council approved the Action Plan translating the Hague Programme into specific measures (16054/04). The plan will be forwarded to the European Council so that it can take note.
The Action Plan becomes the frame of reference for Commission and Council work over the next five years, with the recognition that it:
On 17 June 2004 the European Council decided to examine implementation of this Action Plan twice a year.
With the assistance of the Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, Gijs de Vries, the Presidency has updated the version of the Action Plan submitted to the European Council last December.
The text approved the JHA Council today will be forwarded to the General Affairs Council and then to the European Council for adoption.
Overall, the EU Institutions, agencies and services have made progress in implementing the measures set out in the Action Plan:
However, the time lag between the general approach and formal adoption by the Council of legislation under the third pillar is too long.
The Council took note of the work which must be accomplished before the end of the year, particularly as regards civil protection and protection of critical infrastructure.
The fight against terrorism will be one of the priorities of the United Kingdom Presidency.
The Council reached political agreement on the Decision establishing the European Police College (CEPOL) (9144/1/05 REV 1).
The European Police College was established by Council Decision 2000/820/JHA of 22 December 2000. It became apparent that the functioning of CEPOL could be improved if it were financed from the general budget of the European Union and if the Staff Regulations of officials of the European Communities and the Conditions of employment of other servants of the European Communities applied to the Director and the staff of the CEPOL Secretariat.
The conclusions of the Council of 24 February 2005 therefore called for the aforementioned amendments to be implemented, which made it necessary to adopt a new Council Decision concerning CEPOL.
CEPOL will continue to function as a network, linking national training institutes whose tasks include the training of senior police officers of the Member States.
1. Recalling the conclusions of the European Council recognizing that insufficiently managed migration flows can result in humanitarian disasters and expressing its utmost concern about the human tragedies that take place in the Mediterranean as a result of attempts to enter the EU illegally;
2. Mindful of the call of the European Council upon all States to intensify their cooperation in preventing further loss of life;
3. Recalling the November 2004 European Council Conclusions which call upon the EU to take a more effective, joint approach to cross-border problems such as illegal migration and trafficking in and smuggling of human beings;
4. Recalling the provisions of the Hague Programme regarding border checks and the fight against illegal immigration, in particular the need for solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility between Member States, including its financial implications;
5. Recalling its conclusions of November 2002 where the Council considered that cooperation with Libya in the field of migration was both essential and urgent and reiterating its concern about the level of illegal traffic across the Mediterranean from or via Libya;
6. Recalling that Libya's full integration into the Barcelona Process would be welcomed and remains the overall objective of engagement with Libya; reiterating that participation in the Barcelona Process remains subject to Libya's formal application to the Process and acceptance of the whole Barcelona acquis and that the possibilities for cooperation with Libya will remain limited until such participation;
7. Recalling its conclusions of 11 October 2004 and its decision to embark upon a policy of engagement with Libya and inter alia that a technical mission to Libya should be conducted by the Commission as soon as possible to examine arrangements for combating illegal migration in accordance with the terms of reference elaborated in response to the Council's mandate of 16 June 2003;
8. Recalling that the Council of 11 October 2004 invited Libya to respond positively to the EU's proposed policy of engagement. In this regard, Libya should demonstrate its willingness to solve outstanding bilateral issues with EU Member States, and work towards stronger relations in the future, bilaterally and in multilateral frameworks.
9. Underlining, in particular, that the Council would like to see the adjournment of the decision concerning the judgement against the Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor as an encouraging sign. It hopes that the judgement, expected on 15 November 2005, will lead to the quick release of the Bulgarian and Palestinian medical personnel, which remains a priority of the European Union; it reiterates its calls in favour of a just, equitable and humanitarian solution.
10. Welcoming the report of the Commission services on the technical mission to Libya on illegal migration which was carried out between 28 November and 6 December 2004;
11. Underlining the need for EU partnership with countries and regions of origin as well as those of transit and that, in line with the Hague programme, there is also a need for intensified cooperation and capacity-building with the countries on the Southern borders of the EU and with a number of important African countries of origin and transit to enable these countries to better manage migration and provide protection for refugees;
12. Recalling the programme of measures to combat illegal immigration across the maritime borders of the Member States of the European Union adopted in November 2003 and recognizing the EU's responsibility for controlling the external border of the EU and in particular for undertaking humanitarian efforts to try and prevent loss of life in the Mediterranean;
13. Recalling Member States' obligations under International and Community law on asylum and international protection, in particular to ensure access to dignified reception conditions and to asylum determination procedures.
HAS ADOPTED THE FOLLOWING CONCLUSIONS:
Measures to intensify cooperation within the EU
Suggestions for exploratory discussions with Libya
Suggestions for dialogue and cooperation with other African countries
The Council was informed by the Commission of the latest developments at the Agency, in particular the appointment of its Director and the adoption of its Rules of Procedure.
The Council was informed by the Presidency of the latest developments in the fight against organised crime originating from or linked to the Western Balkans.
At lunch on 2 June Ministers examined the text of the Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia, of which the original proposal was presented by the Commission on 29 November 2001.
The Vice-President of the Commission, Mr Franco Frattini, presented three proposals to the Council, relating to the establishment of the second-generation Schengen Information System (SIS II), which will replace the current SIS.
SIS II will enable the new Member States to participate fully in the area without border controls between those States and the other EU Member States. It will also support the efforts of law-enforcement agencies to meet the major security challenges with which the European Union is nowadays confronted, and its legal framework will guarantee a high level of protection to those whose data is stored in the system.
OTHER ITEMS APPROVED
The Council adopted a Regulation enabling the authorities responsible for issuing registration certificates for vehicles to have access to the SIS (Schengen Information System) database, to help in the fight against vehicle-related crime (14238/04, 14238/04 ADD 1 and 8524/05).
This Regulation amends the provisions of the Schengen Convention which in 1990 set up the SIS, an electronic network between the Member States containing data on lost or stolen motor vehicles.
This Regulation is intended to supplement a Decision adopted by the Council in December 2004 on preventing vehicle crime, with the aim of establishing better cooperation within the EU.
According to the estimates quoted in the 2004 Decision, 1,2 million motor vehicles are stolen in the EU each year, of which 30 to 40% are stolen by organised crime, causing damages amounting to at least EUR 15 billion per year.
The Council approved:
The Council adopted a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 by a qualified majority, with Poland and the Czech Republic voting against. The Regulation lists the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders of the Member States, and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement as regards the reciprocity mechanism (6762/05 + 8985/1/05).
The mechanism provided for in Regulation No 539/2001 has proved unsuitable for dealing with situations of non-reciprocity in which a third country maintains or introduces a visa requirement for nationals from one or more Member States, so that the mechanism needs to be adapted to make it effective.
The list of third countries is unchanged from that in Regulation No 539/2001.
The Council adopted an indicative timetable, organisational and procedural arrangements and a list of themes to be evaluated in the ten new Member States before SIS II becomes operational in 2007.
The Council also approved conclusions on follow-up to the Schengen evaluation of Spain and Italy.
The Council adopted Decisions approving the conclusion of Framework Agreements with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia and Montenegro, as well as a Protocol with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on the general principles for the participation of these countries in Community programmes (5532/05).
 The Council accepted the three amendments passed by the European Parliament at second reading under the codecision procedure.