Justice and Home Affairs pre-Council statement

Ministry of Justice written statement – made on 5th June 2019.

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Photo of David Gauke David Gauke The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

The EU Justice and Home Affairs Council of Ministers will meet on 6th and 7th of June in Luxembourg. I will represent the UK for Justice Day. Sir Tim Barrow, Permanent Representative of the UK to the EU and Chris Jones, Director of the Europe Directorate at the Home Office, will represent the UK for Interior day.

Justice Day on 6th June will begin with a progress report on the proposal on the third-party effects of assignment of claims, which is currently being negotiated in Council working groups. The UK has opted out of this proposal but continues to input to ensure that the legislation does not create any unintended disruption to current financial market practice.

There will then be a policy debate about the use of IT in the proposals to amend the Service and Taking of Evidence Regulations. Member States have been divided on the extent to which the processes in each should be digitised. Subject to further considerations about costs, Ministers will be asked whether a mandatory IT system should be introduced and, if so, whether it should be a centralised system or one that is decentralised and based on the existing systems in each Member State, and what preferences they have for the type of software that should be used. The UK opted in to the proposal on the Service Regulation but not the proposal on the Taking of Evidence Regulation.

The Council will then discuss non-legislative activities. First, a policy debate on the future of EU substantive criminal law, which follows a survey of Member States seeking views on the use of substantive law in future EU proposals. Given it looks to future legislative activity, after UK Exit, the UK does not seek to direct the conclusions so I will not intervene.

During the working lunch, I will discuss with other Ministers the use of judicial training to foster mutual trust and exchange views on ways to enhance the understanding, confidence and cooperation between judges and prosecutors within EU Member States.

After lunch there will be a policy debate on the way forward in the field of mutual recognition in criminal matters. The aim of this debate is to identify matters which may help or hinder more effective mutual recognition, looking in particular at lessons that may be learned from recent CJEU caselaw and views put forward by Member States. In so far as this looks to future legislative activity, the UK does not seek to direct this project since it would be realised after UK Exit. The UK is, however, supportive of this work since we aim to be a cooperative partner following UK Exit, and as a Member State, have experience to offer to the project. I will therefore indicate that the UK will provide its general support and offer assistance.

The Presidency will then put Council Conclusions which encourage Eurojust and the networks established in the area of judicial cooperation in criminal matters to further develop the coordination and synergies between them, to Ministers for adoption. The UK supports the work of Eurojust, and agrees that better coordination between networks hosted by Eurojust would be helpful for criminal justice cooperation.

The Commission will provide an update on the planned preparatory steps to make the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) operational by the end of 2020. The UK has not opted into EPPO.

The Presidency will put the Council Decisions relating to the opening of negotiations for EU-US agreement on cross-border access to e-evidence, and authorising the participation in the negotiations on a second additional protocol to the Budapest Convention, to ministers for adoption. Whilst the UK supports the overall aim of enhanced international cooperation on e-evidence and its use in preventing and tackling harms to public security, it has not opted into these Council Decisions.

Finally, Ministers will adopt the retention of data for the purpose of fighting crime. The agenda item relates to efforts to overcome the challenges of ECJ judgments relating to communications data regimes. The UK supports comprehensively exploring options for lawful regimes in Member States, although shares some concerns to an EU-wide legislative solution. The UK has not opted into the relevant measure(s) but this is of interest in the ongoing UK-US CLOUD Act negotiations.

Lithuania will then provide information on Actions Against Judges and Prosecutors. Lithuania are seeking cooperation against any possible Interpol alerts launched by Russia to locate or arrest Lithuanian officials involved in a Lithuanian court against former Soviet military officials found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in 1991. I will highlight that the UK considers very seriously any misuse of INTERPOL notices and is committed to ensuring that international norms and codes are upheld.

Interior day will take place on Friday 7 June. Sir Tim Barrow, Permanent Representative of the UK to the EU and Chris Jones, Director of the Europe Directorate at the Home Office, will represent the UK for Interior day.

The Council will hold a policy debate on the future of EU law enforcement, and in particular the need for an integrated approach to policing, interagency cooperation and further development of EU policing solutions. The UK supports the concept of an integrated approach to security, accompanied by the development of EU policing solutions which respond to changing threat landscapes and evolving technologies.

The EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator will then present on the implications of 5G for law enforcement work. The UK supports discussion at EU-level on this issue, and further thinking on the nature and extent of the challenges posed by this emerging technology.

The Council will then receive an update on co-operation between competent authorities dealing with counter-terrorism. The Presidency will update on work being undertaken to explore practical ways on how to cooperate. The UK supports such co-operation where this adds value over existing exchanges between law enforcement authorities and Europol.

Over lunch, Ministers will undertake an exchange of views with representatives of the UNHCR and the IOM on the challenges ahead on migration and asylum. Following the rise in migrant arrivals across the Central Mediterranean, the discussion will return to seeking sustainable solutions on disembarkation and strengthening the response upstream. The UK intervention will focus on our extensive support upstream which ranges from tackling organised immigration crime and the use of strategic communications to building partnerships and capability with source and transit countries to jointly address the drivers of migration.

The Presidency will seek to reach a General Approach on the draft Directive on common standards and procedures in Member States for returning illegally staying third-country nationals (recast), with the exception of Article 22 on the Border procedure and the related recitals. The UK has not opted into this measure and will not intervene.

The Presidency will also seek partial General Approaches on draft Regulations establishing the Integrated Border Management fund, establishing the Asylum and Migration Fund, and establishing the Internal Security Fund. These are subject to wider negotiations on the overall Multi-Annual Financial Framework. The UK will not participate in any of these funds, and will not intervene.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS1561