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Brussels, 24 September 1998
11282/98 (Presse 302)
2116th Council meeting JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS
Presidents: Mr Karl SCHLÖGL
S U M M A R Y
EXPLANATORY REPORT ON THE CORRUPTION CONVENTION 5
CONVENTION ON MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE IN CRIMINAL MATTERS 6
JOINT ACTION ON MONEY LAUNDERING AND CONFISCATION OF PROCEEDS FROM CRIME 8
EURODAC - COMPARISON OF FINGERPRINTS OF ASYLUM APPLICANTS 12
MIGRATION FLOWS (NOTABLY FROM IRAK, KOSOVO) 13
RATIFICATION OF ALREADY ADOPTED CONVENTIONS 14
1997 REPORT ON ORGANIZED CRIME 15
REPORT ON THE OPENING OF THE OBSERVATORY ON RACISM AND XENOPHOBIA 15
CHILD PORNOGRAPHY 16
MEETING WITH THE CEECs 17
POINTS ADOPTED WITHOUT DISCUSSION
JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS
EUROPOL / European Drugs Unit I
Enlargement /environment - conclusions I
Togo - consultations III
Relations with San Marino III
Hungary - participation in health and social policy programmes III
Poland and Lithuania - participation in SAVE II programme III
Anti-dumping - imports of monosodium glutamate IV
Anti-dumping - imports of flat pallets of wood from Poland V
Anti-dumping - imports of farmed Atlantic salmon from Norway V
Market access strategy VI
China - trade in textile products VI
Slovenia - exports of "Ajvar"VI
Committee of the Regions VII
ADOPTED BY WRITTEN PROCEDURE:
For further information: 285.84.15 - 285.74.59
The Governments of the Member States and the European Commission were represented as follows:
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Participants of the Applicant countries of Central and Eastern Europe and Cyprus :
EXPLANATORY REPORT ON THE CORRUPTION CONVENTION
The Council took note of the explanatory report on the Convention on the fight against corruption involving officials of the European Communities or officials of Member States of the EU, which was signed on 26 May 1997.
The explanatory report, drawn up as usual following the adoption of a Convention, aims at facilitating its interpretation and application. It outlines the reasons for the establishment of this Convention and contains detailed comments on the 15 articles of the Convention, ranging from the definitions of Community and Member State officials, passive and active corruption, criminal liability of heads of businesses to rules concerning jurisdiction, extradition and prosecution, role of the Court of Justice, entry into force etc.
It is recalled that the above Convention is aimed at criminalizing all corrupt conduct involving Community or Member States' officials, while the Protocol on the corruption of officials of 27 September 1996 which supplemented the Convention of 26 July 1995 on the protection of EC financial interests, is limited to combating fraud specifically directed against the financial interests of the EC.
It should be noted that the Convention was the first international legal instrument to be adopted on this type of corruption.
CONVENTION ON MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE IN CRIMINAL MATTERS
The Council discussed one of the last, but particularly difficult, questions on this draft Convention, namely the provisions on interception of telecommunications covering traditional networks, GSM and future international satellite-based networks.
In this area the draft Convention aims at establishing rules providing the necessary legal basis for appropriate cooperation regarding interception, the obligation to inform another Member State when carrying out an interception on its territory as well as the obligation to refrain from intercepting or to stop ongoing interception in certain circumstances. However, it should be noted that one delegation still maintains a general reservation on the draft provisions concerning interception of telecommunications, taking the view that this matter should not fall under the scope of this Convention, to the extent that it does not require assistance from another Member State.
With regard to the interception of traditional network and GSM telecommunications, work carried out so far by the competent Council bodies has enabled an agreement to emerge on most aspects. More work is still needed on continued interception (the target moves from one country to another) and the use of recorded interception.
Today's discussion focused on the interception of satellite telecommunications, a new technology offered by a global satellite telecommunication network called Iridium which will have its European ground station in central Italy. More such networks will be established shortly with ground stations in other Member States. These satellite telecommunication networks will dispose of the necessary technology to intercept satellite telecommunications (carried out through their network) via their service providers in place in the Member States by remote control linked to the ground station, without the technical assistance of the country where the ground station is located.
During the debate, some delegations pointed out that the legal provisions on interception of satellite telecommunications should continue to be of a general nature and should not be tied to specific technical or procedural possibilities as technological progress is very rapid in this area. It was also stressed that the technical aspects had to be analyzed thoroughly in order to be able to assess the necessary legal implications.
Subject to further examination of the details by experts, there was general agreement that the interception of satellite telecommunications via the service providers present in each Member State was, from a technical point of view, a convenient option. In fact, this option would enable the law enforcement authorities to address a request directly to the service provider located in their country (offering the advantage of having the same language), thus avoiding resorting technically to the ground station country.
In concluding the debate, the Council instructed its competent bodies to pursue work on this draft Convention in the light of interventions made by delegations and to address the other outstanding questions (data protection, role of the Court of Justice, territorial scope of the Convention) with a view to reaching global agreement on this Convention at the next session on 3/4 December.
It is recalled that the purpose of this Convention is to supplement and facilitate the application of the 1959 Council of Europe Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, as well as the Schengen Agreement and the Benelux Treaty. It would provide for more efficient and faster judicial cooperation in criminal matters, taking account of new investigation methods such as hearings by videoconference or new techniques such as "controlled deliveries". In promoting and updating mutual legal assistance between judicial authorities, but also police or customs authorities, the Convention would be of capital importance in the fight against organised crime.
JOINT ACTION ON MONEY LAUNDERING AND CONFISCATION OF PROCEEDS FROM CRIME
The Council reached political agreement on the draft joint action concerning domestic measures and arrangements for cooperation between Member States in respect of the laundering, identification, tracing, freezing or seizing and confiscation of instrumentalities and the proceeds from crime. The joint action will be adopted formally at a forthcoming session once parliamentary and linguistic reservations have been lifted and the text has been reviewed by legal and linguistic experts.
The joint action aims at fighting money laundering by strengthening the legal framework in respect of the 1990 Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime (() All Member States have either ratified or adopted legislation to implement this Convention. However, several Member States made use of the possibility of upholding reservations on the Convention. ).
While originally the incrimination of money laundering was mainly linked to drug trafficking, the implementation of this joint action will widen the scope of the money laundering offence by extending it, in all Member States, to other serious crimes. This will lead to a more efficient fight against money laundering, as asked for by the 1997 Action Plan on Organized Crime.
More specifically, the purpose of the joint action is the approximation among Member States of the definition of a money laundering offence and of the provisions on the confiscation of proceeds from crime and its instrumentalities. To this end, Member States will undertake neither to make nor to uphold any reservations with regard to Article 2, concerning confiscation measures, and Article 6, containing a definition of the laundering offence, of the 1990 Council of Europe Convention.
In this context, Member States are asked to change national legislation and procedures in order to allow for "value confiscation" related to the value of the proceeds from crime as opposed to the in certain cases less efficient "property confiscation" under which it would not be possible to confiscate, for example, the proceeds transferred abroad.
With the purpose of strengthening cooperation between Member States in this area and facilitating procedures, the joint action also establishes that the same priority must be given to requests from abroad as is given to national requests and that Member States should encourage direct contacts between investigators, investigating magistrates and prosecutors, avoiding where possible formal requests.
Furthermore, each Member State is asked to prepare, within the framework of the functioning of the European Judicial Network, a user-friendly guide on national procedures and contacts regarding the identification, tracing, freezing or seizing and confiscating proceeds from crime.
With regard to the implementation of the joint action, it is established that Member States will submit to their legislative bodies within three years appropriate proposals on the specific commitment not to make or uphold reservations on the above Articles of the 1990 Convention.
The Council approved a progress report on the preparation for the entry into force on 1st October next of the Europol Convention, following its ratification by all Member States.
However, it should be noted that Europol can only start its activities once a number of acts listed in Article 45 of the Convention have been adopted. Several acts have already been agreed by the Council and should be approved by the Europol Management Board in October in view of their final adoption by the Council (the rules on the rights and obligations of liaison officers in relation to Europol, the rules applicable to analysis files, the Europol Staff Regulations, the confidentiality regulations and the Financial Regulation).
With regard to another legal act, namely the draft rules of procedure of the Joint Supervisory Body of Europol, the Council discussed the main outstanding point related to the legal character (either administrative or judicial) of the Body. The Council expressed its willingness to reach agreement on this question in October in order not to delay the setting up of Europol. It is recalled that this Joint Supervisory Body will have the task of reviewing the activities of Europol to ensure that the rights of the individual are not violated by the storage, processing and utilization of the data held by Europol. It will also monitor the permissibility of the transmission of data originating from Europol.
The Presidency urged Member States to speed up ratification procedures of the protocol on the privileges and immunities of Europol, the members of its organs and the deputy directors and employees of Europol, which has been ratified so far by only eight Member States and needs to be ratified by all Member States in order to enable Europol to become operational.
Among the other acts which need to be agreed it should be noted that the agreements between the Netherlands and the other Member States on the privileges and immunities of liaison officers and members of their families as well as the Headquarters Agreement between the host State and Europol are to be concluded shortly.
Moreover, the Council has already agreed the four texts establishing the rules concerning the receipt of information by Europol from third parties, the transmission of personal data by Europol to third States and third bodies, the external relations between Europol and third States and bodies not linked to the EU as well as the external relations of Europol with bodies linked to the EU.
The Council also adopted today, without debate, the Europol budget for 1999, the report on the activities of the EDU for the first half of 1998, a progress report on the Europol computer system as well as two decisions concerning the exercise of the powers of the Europol Director following the entry into force of the Europol Convention and the transfer of the strategic management of the TECS project to the Management Board of Europol (see "A" points).
EURODAC CONVENTION - COMPARISON OF FINGERPRINTS OF ASYLUM APPLICANTS
The Presidency informed the Council of the latest work and state of play of the draft Convention establishing Eurodac, a central system for the comparison of fingerprints of applicants for asylum. Eurodac would be of great importance in supporting the operation of the 1990 Dublin Convention ("determining the State responsible for examining applications for asylum lodged in one of the Member States of the European Communities") which entered into force on 1st September 1997.
Since at the last session in May the Council concluded that work on the extension of the Convention to include illegal immigrants should be pursued on the basis of a Protocol, the work carried out by the competent Council bodies concentrated on the definition of the category of 'illegal immigrants'.
Some delegations pointed out that they did not share the majority's view that this category should comprise only persons who are apprehended in areas close to borders (situations mentioned in Article 6 of the Dublin Convention) but that the definition should include all persons who had crossed the borders illegally and were caught in a Member State (situations referred to in Article 10 of the said Convention).
With regard to the question of the period of storage of the fingerprints of illegal immigrants as referred to in abovementioned Article 6, the Presidency proposed to pursue work on the basis of a duration of 2 years which would be a compromise between delegations arguing for a longer period and those favouring a shorter one.
In concluding the debate, the Council instructed its competent bodies to continue work on the draft Convention in view of reaching a global agreement on the Convention at the session on 3/4 December.
It should be noted that other open questions on the Eurodac Convention relate to the funding and management arrangements for the central unit of Eurodac, the possibility of preliminary rulings by the Court of Justice as well as to the problem of the territorial scope of the Convention.
MIGRATION FLOWS (NOTABLY FROM IRAK, KOSOVO)
The Presidency reported on the implementation of the Action Plan on the influx of migrants from Irak and the neighbouring regions adopted last January. It pointed out that due to the progress made in implementing the Action Plan, in most Member States the number of migrants from that area has indeed decreased or at least stabilized.
The Council agreed that although the situation in this respect had improved, it needed to pursue the implementation of the Action Plan, in particular the dialogue with Turkey, and to keep the migration flows from that region under surveillance.
With regard to Kosovo, the Council expressed its preoccupation with the worrying situation in that region and the risk of massive migration outflows.
Some Member States reported that the number of asylum seekers and other migrants from the Kosovo region had increased considerably since the beginning of this year.
It was stressed that the causes for the possible refugee flows had to be addressed. The need to define a temporary common system on how to deal with the refugees already present in Member States was also underlined. The importance of having a common political assessment of the situation in Kosovo was also pointed out, which would make the examination in the different Member States of demands for asylum from Kosovars more coherent.
On the basis of an approach proposed by the Presidency, the Council took the view that migration experts ought to be sent to Pristina where an EU representation is already in place and that financial support by the EC, notably ECHO, and by Member States bilaterally was extremely important, especially at the onset of winter. This support should be given not only to Kosovo, but also to the neighbouring region.
The Presidency undertook to inform the President of the General Affairs Council of this approach of the Justice and Home Affairs Council.
RATIFICATION OF ALREADY ADOPTED CONVENTIONS
The Presidency urged Member States to speed up their national ratification procedures concerning those conventions which were listed in the 1997 Action Plan on organized crime as essential in the fight against this phenomenon. These conventions were concluded either within the EU, the Council of Europe or the United Nations.
The Action Plan established that if a Member State has not ratified one of the listed Conventions within a set deadline it has to explain the reasons for its delay to the Council every six months in written form.
1997 REPORT ON ORGANISED CRIME
The Presidency undertook to submit to delegations a written report on the progress made in the drafting of this year's report on organised crime. The report will be submitted to the Council at its December session.
REPORT ON THE OPENING OF THE OBSERVATORY ON RACISM AND XENOPHOBIA
The Presidency undertook to submit shortly to delegations a written report on the setting up and the activities of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia which opened last January in Vienna following the adoption by the Council of the relevant regulation in June 1997 (Regulation n. 1035/97).
It is recalled that the prime objective of the Monitoring Centre is to provide the Community and its Member States with objective, reliable and comparable data at European level on the phenomena of racism, xenophobia and anti-semitism in order to help them when they take measures or formulate courses of action within their respective spheres of competence.
Under the agenda item "Any other business", the Council briefly raised the problem of child pornography. Stressing the gravity of this phenomenon, it asked its competent bodies to speed up the work on the drafting of a joint action on the fight against child pornography on the Internet, with a view to its adoption as soon as possible.
It also invited Member States to accelerate the implementation of the joint action of 24 February 1997 concerning action to combat trafficking in human beings and sexual exploitation of children.
It reiterated its willingness to extend, as soon as possible after the entry into force of the Europol Convention, Europol's remit regarding trafficking in human beings aimed at enabling Europol to combat also the international networks of production, sale and distribution of child pornographic material.
Finally, the Council undertook to start examination of the proposal for a Community programme DAPHNE on measures relating to violence against children, young persons and women, which was recently adopted by the Commission.
MEETING WITH THE CEECs
At the meeting with the Justice and Home Affairs Ministers from the CEECs and Cyprus three areas were discussed, namely organised crime, judicial cooperation and asylum and immigration.
Before addressing these matters, Commissioner Gradin informed Ministers of the state of implementation of the pre-accession strategy and, in particular, of the forthcoming screening processes of the accession candidates in the Justice and Home Affairs area.
With regard to the discussion on organised crime, the Presidency underlined in its opening statement that the fight against this phenomenon can only be successful through international cooperation. Intervening Ministers from accession countries agreed with this view. In this context, they explained the adaptation to the EU acquis of their legislation and procedures regarding organized crime and outlined the state of signature, ratification and implementation by their countries of the most important international conventions in this area. In response to their interest in cooperating with Europol, the Presidency expressed its willingness to explore possibilities and speed up required procedures for establishing formal contacts between Europol and the CEECs.
The United Kingdom delegation listed in its opening statement of the debate on judicial cooperation a number of priorities which had to be pursued in this area, focusing mainly on the rule of law. Ministers from the accession countries who intervened stressed the importance of judicial cooperation and informed the Council of their efforts to adapt their legislation and procedures to the EU acquis in this area.
With regard to the last topic concerning asylum and immigration, the German delegation voiced the preoccupations of EU Member States and stressed the importance of developing common strategies in order to secure external borders and to tackle the organized crime linked frequently to asylum seeking and illegal immigration. Ministers from the accession countries reported on their efforts to strengthen border controls and on their measures to fight illegal immigration, as well as on their negotiation of readmission agreements.
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(Adopted without discussion. In the case of legislative acts, votes against or abstentions are indicated. Decisions containing statements which the Council has decided to release to the public are indicated by asterisks; the statements in question may be obtained from the Press Office.)
JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS
EUROPOL / European Drugs Unit (EDU)
Following political agreement at the last session in May, the Council formally adopted the 1999 Europol budget amounting to 14.999.500 euro, plus 3.904.500 euro for the Europol computer system (TECS). The budget establishes in particular that 50 new posts will be created gradually during 1999, bringing the total number of posts to 119.
The Council took note of the report on the activities of the Europol Drugs Unit covering the first half of this year.
The Council took note of a progress report on the setting up of the Europol Computer System (TECS). The report points out that an interim system will be available for analysis and index purposes when Europol will take up its activities, given the delays on the establishment of TECS which is currently moving only towards the procurement phase.
In order to guarantee the orderly continuation of the TECS project, the Council agreed to transfer the strategic management of this project to the Europol Management Board upon the entry into force of the Europol Convention.
Enlargement / Environment - Conclusions
Togo - consultations
Further to the consultations held with Togo on 30 July 1998 concerning the many irregularities observed in the final stage of the 21 June Presidential elections, the Council decided to formally request that the Togolese government submit information on the practical measures taken or planned in order to remedy the situation. That information would be the basis for any further consultations.
According to the Council the fact that the consultations were held on 30 July was in itself positive, but the explanations given by the Togolese government were not satisfactory; furthermore, events which have taken place in Togo since then have not been in the direction of the restoration of a state of law and civil peace.
It is recalled that under article 366a of the Lomé Convention, consultations are subject to a time limit; in the absence of progress the EU would be obliged to take the appropriate measures (the Convention provides for "the partial or full suspension of application of the Convention to the Party concerned").
Relations with San Marino
The Council approved on behalf of the EU a draft Decision of the EC-San Marino Cooperation Committee, adapting the procedures by which the import duties collected by the EC on behalf of San Marino are made available to the San Marino Exchequer.
Hungary - participation in health and social policy programmes
The Council approved on behalf of the Community a draft decision of the EC-Hungary Association Council concerning Hungary's participation in EC programmes in the fields of health and social policy.
Further to the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement concluded on 4 December 1995 which provides for Hungary's participation in EC programmes, this Decision stipulates that Hungary shall participate in the following programmes: Health promotion, Combating cancer, Prevention of AIDS and other communicable diseases, Drug dependence and Equal opportunities for men and women. The Decision equally defines the terms and conditions of Hungary's participation.
Poland and Lithuania - participation in SAVE II programme
The Council approved on behalf of the Community two draft decisions, respectively of the EC-Poland and the EC-Lithuania Association Councils, concerning these countries' participation in the multiannual programme for energy efficiency, SAVE II.
Further to the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement concluded with Poland on 4 December 1995 and further to article 110 of the Association Agreement with Lithuania, which provide for these countries' participation in EC programmes, the two Decisions stipulate that Poland and Lithuania shall participate in the SAVE II programme, according to certain terms and conditions.
The Council took note of the "modus operandi" for the implementation of article J.4.2 of the Maastricht Treaty (which concerns the relations between the EU and the WEU) and of a "flow chart" which describes in a diagrammatic way the procedural steps in the EU and the WEU and the linkages between them. These two documents are to serve as a guide for the decision-making processes in the EU and WEU and their interfaces in crisis situations. They might also be regarded, once the Amsterdam Treaty enters into force, as a first set of arrangements for improving the cooperation between both organisations as called for by the Protocol on the new article 17 (ex-article J.7.).
Anti-dumping - imports of monosodium glutamate from Brazil, Vietnam, Korea, Taiwan, the US and Indonesia
The Council adopted the Regulation imposing a definitive anti-dumping duty on imports of monosodium glutamate (MSG - a flavour enhancer used in ready-made foods) from Brazil and Vietnam, amending Regulation (CE) No 81/96 in respect of anti-dumping duties on MSG from Korea and Taiwan, and terminating the proceedings in respect of MSG imported from the US and Indonesia.
The rates of duty applicable to the net free-at-Community-frontier price is set as follows:
As concerns Indonesia, Korea and Taiwan, the Community had imposed definitive anti-dumping duties in 1990 (Reg. (EEC) No 1798/90), amended in 1996 (Reg. (EC) No 81/96) to cover all imports without any exception. The Commission then initiated an interim review given the significant changes in the pattern of volumes and prices of the imports concerned which had occurred since 1996. With regard to Korea and Taiwan the Commission concluded that the substantial dumping established demonstrated the likelihood of the continuation of dumping if the measures in force were repealed, whereas in the case of Indonesia the likelihood of recurrence of injurious dumping was deemed to be remote.
As concerns Brazil, the US and Vietnam, the Commission initiated an anti-dumping investigation following a complaint lodged by Orsan SA, the sole Community producer. The proceedings concerning the US were terminated because one of the two American producers had in the meantime ceased its production of MSG and the other had never exported the product to the Community, and was indeed itself an importer of MSG.
Anti-dumping - imports of flat pallets of wood from Poland
The Council adopted a Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 2334/97 imposing a definitive anti-dumping duty on certain imports of flat pallets of wood originating in Poland.
Pursuant to article 4(1) of the 1997 Regulation, 18 new Polish companies had requested the same treatment as the companies which cooperated in the original investigation and to which a 6,3% duty was imposed. As they provided evidence that they met the requirements (i.e. they did not export pallets during the investigation period; they are not related to producers subject to the duties; they have exported to the Community the goods concerned after the investigation period or have entered into an irrevocable contractual obligation to export a significant quantity to the EC), they are now included in the list of exporters to which the 6,3% rate is applied.
10 of those 18 producers have also offered undertakings with regard to EUR pallets which were accepted by the Commission, and are therefore exempted from the duty.
Anti-dumping - imports of farmed Atlantic salmon from Norway
The Council adopted two Regulations amending Regulations (EC) No 1890/97 and (EC) No 1891/97 imposing definitive anti-dumping duties and countervailing duties on imports of farmed Atlantic salmon from Norway.
The first Regulation amends the list of companies whose undertakings were accepted by the Commission and accordingly were exempted from the anti-dumping and countervailing duties imposed by the 1997 Regulations, to take account of the fact that 21 of those companies had in the meantime voluntarily withdrawn their undertakings.
The companies concerned did so because they had had no sales to the EC for a period of time and had no binding contractual obligations to do so in the near future, and therefore they did not qualify as "exporters" within the meaning of the basic anti-dumping Regulation. They were also informed that maintaining their undertakings in force under these circumstances would be administratively cumbersome for the Commission. When the relevant conditions are met, these companies may offer a new undertaking.
The second Regulation amends the list of companies exempted from the anti-dumping and countervailing duties imposed by the 1997 Regulations, to take account of the fact that 12 Norwegian companies have failed to comply with their obligation to present a report within the prescribed time limit or did not submit any report at all, and were not able to provide any evidence of force majeure to justify such non-reporting. They will therefore now be subjected to the definitive anti-dumping and countervailing duties (respectively 0,32 ECU/kg and 3,8%) and the amounts secured by way of the provisional duties (Reg. (EC) No 1126/98) shall be definitively collected.
Market access strategy *
The Council adopted a Decision on the implementation by the Commission of activities relating to the Community's market access strategy.
Considering that the common commercial policy would be incomplete without a market access policy of the Community to remove trade barriers, this Decision provides that the Commission shall undertake activities such as the identification and analysis of market access barriers in third countries, the establishment and development of databases and the dissemination of information on trade barriers, studies on the implementation by third countries of their obligations under international trade agreements, and the production of information material on legal and economic aspects on the removal of trade barriers.
In carrying out these activities the Commission shall be assisted by an advisory committee of Member State representatives.
China - trade in textile products
The Council authorised the Commission to open negotiations for the renewal of the Agreement on trade in textile products with China initialled on 9 December 1988 as last modified on 13 December 1995.
The Commission will conduct these negotiations in close consultation with the Member States.
Slovenia - exports of "Ajvar"
The Council approved the Decision to conclude the Additional Protocol to the Interim Agreement on trade with Slovenia, extending the exemption from customs duties accorded to Slovenian exports of frozen Ajvar to exports of fresh Ajvar.
Ajvar, a mixture of peppers and spice, is not produced in the Community, and most of Slovenia's exports are made up of fresh rather than frozen Ajvar.
The Council approved on behalf of the Community a draft Decision of the EC-Andorra Joint Committee whose aim is to extend to Andorra the surveillance procedure for products subject in the EC to quantitative restrictions or a quota with regard to third countries.
In 1996 the Joint Committee decided to exempt Andorra from the commercial policy provisions applicable to textile products under the 28 June 1990 Agreement and established a prior surveillance procedure for imports of such products and a framework allowing them to be re-exported to the EC. Given that this system has proved highly satisfactory without generating excess administration, it should be extended indefinitely. The new Decision therefore amends the 1996 Decision so that only those products subject to quantitative restrictions on imports into the EC have to undergo prior surveillance.
Committee of the Regions
The Council adopted a Decision appointing Mr Leonardo VERDÍN BOUZA an alternate member of the Committee of the Regions in place of Lord Peter Bownes for the remainder of the latter's term of office, which runs until 25 January 2002.
ADOPTED BY WRITTEN PROCEDURE
The Council adopted by written procedure, on 22 September 1998, a Decision requesting the Western European Union (WEU) to complete urgently its study on the feasibility of possible options for international police operations in Albania, in order to assist the Albanian authorities to restore law and order.