PN230305EF

IMMEDIATE

WEDNESDAY 23 MARCH 2005

LORDS COMMENT ON EU FIVE YEAR PLAN ON CRIME AND IMMIGRATION

The Government should have consulted Parliament on the Hague Programme, a five year programme for EU justice and home affairs (JHA), before it was adopted, according to a report by the House of Lords EU Committee published today.

The report examines the Hague Programme, which contains detailed proposals for action across the whole range of JHA policies and makes recommendations to be taken into account in drawing up the Action Plan to implement the Programme. It stresses that the Action Plan must give full weight to the need to protect fundamental rights.

The Committee welcomes the Programme's focus on the need for action in the JHA field:

  • to respect the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality and the legal traditions of Member States, and

  • to be firmly based on independent evaluation of existing policies, the results of which must be made public.

Among specific policy areas examined the Committee concludes that:

  • The case for a centrally managed, multinational European Border Guard has not been made.

  • The concept of a Common European Asylum System remains valid to ensure consistent standards across the EU and prevent "asylum shopping", but any new EU standards on asylum must ensure a high level of protection in accordance with international human rights and refugee law.

  • Effective EU action to counter irregular migration is hard to achieve without a common EU policy on legal migration

  • There is a need for much improved co-ordination between national law enforcement authorities and better use of Europol by Member States.

  • Specific EU data protection standards should be developed for the Third (JHA) Pillar

  • Before any further harmonisation of the criminal laws of Member States there needs to be a full examination of its implications.

  • EU action in civil law is acceptable only if it adds value and is absolutely necessary to improve the daily life of EU residents in situations having a cross-border dimension.

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

1. The inquiry was undertaken jointly by Sub-Committees E (Law and Institutions) and F (Home Affairs) of the European Union Committee. The current Members of the Sub-Committees are:

Sub-Committee E

Lord Borrie

Lord Lester of Herne Hill

Lord Clinton-Davis

Lord Mayhew of Twysden

Lord Denham

Lord Neill of Bladen

Lord Grabiner

Lord Scott of Foscote (Chairman)

Lord Henley

Lord Thompson of Monifieth

Sub-Committee F

Lord Avebury

Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen

Baroness Bonham-Carter

Earl of Listowel

Earl of Caithness

Viscount Ullswater

Lord Corbett of Castle Vale

Lord Wright of Richmond (Chairman)

Lord Dubs

 

2. The report is published by The Stationery Office: The Hague Programme: a five year agenda for justice and home affairs, 10th Report, Session 2004-05, HL Paper 84, ISBN 0 10 400647 1, price £15.50. The full text of the report will be available on the internet via www.parliament.uk shortly after publication.

Further information from:

Tony Rawsthorne

Clerk to Sub-Committee F, on 020 7219 6612 ( [email protected])

Requests for reports from:

Jillian Bailey

Press and Publicity Officer (Committees), on 020 7219 8659

[ENDS]