The Home Office and the Ministry of Justice have prepared the third annual report to Parliament on the application of protocols 19 and 21 to the treaty on European Union (TEU) and the treaty on the functioning of the European Union (TFEU) (“the treaties”) in relation to EU Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) matters. The report, which is today being laid before the House, is submitted on behalf of both my own Department and that of the Secretary of State for Justice.
On 9 June 2008 the right hon. Baroness Ashton, the then Leader of the House of Lords, made a statement setting out commitments by the Government to Parliament in respect of the scrutiny of decisions to be taken by the Government in accordance with protocol (No 21) to the treaties on the position of the UK and Ireland in respect of the area of freedom, security and justice (“the Justice and Home Affairs opt-in protocol”). These commitments were designed to ensure that the views of the Scrutiny Committees should inform the Government’s decision-making process.
This included a pledge that the Government would table a report in Parliament each year and make it available for debate, both looking ahead to the Government’s approach to EU Justice and Home Affairs policy and forthcoming dossiers, including in relation to the opt-in, and providing a retrospective annual report on the UK’s application of the opt-in protocol.
On 20 January 2011, the Minister for Europe confirmed in his statement to Parliament on enhancing parliamentary scrutiny of decisions in the area of EU Justice and Home Affairs that the coalition Government have undertaken to maintain this commitment, and this is the third such report. It covers the period 1 December 2011 to 30 November 2012. For completeness, the report also covers the application of protocol 19 to the treaties on the Schengen acquis integrated into the framework of the EU (“the Schengen opt-out protocol”). The Government’s decision-making process for this protocol is the same as for the Justice and Home Affairs opt-in protocol.
It is important to note that decisions taken pursuant to the JHA opt-in and Schengen opt-out protocols are separate from the decision the UK must take, by 31 May, 2014, pursuant to article 10(4) of protocol 36 to the TEU and TFEU (the “2014 decision”).