Friday, 25 April 2008

EU TFEU: Internal security committee

Is this the new Ministry of the Interior of the European Union, with its henchmen ready to quash the cherished liberties of citizens of the member states in order to establish the Orwellian 1984 state?

I regret to announce that, yet again, conspiracy theorists would have to clear some virgin fields for scare-mongering, if the citizens of the European Union took the trouble to read the contents of the Treaty of Lisbon as regards justice and home affairs (JHA), or the area of freedom, security and justice (FSJ) as it is called, on the topic of the new internal security committee.

Regretfully? Well, life would be so much more colourful if the conspiracy theories were true.

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Article 71 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) is presented as it stands after the intergovernmental conference (IGC 2007) in the Treaty of Lisbon (ToL), renumbered and provisionally consolidated by the Council of the European Union (document 6655/08; page 97), with the location of the provision added from the table of equivalences (page 460 to 462):

Part Three ‘Policies and internal actions of the Union’

Title V TFEU ‘Area of freedom, security and justice’

Chapter 1 ‘General provisions’

Article 71TFEU
(ex Article 36 TEU)

A standing committee shall be set up within the Council in order to ensure that operational cooperation on internal security is promoted and strengthened within the Union. Without prejudice to Article 240, it shall facilitate coordination of the action of Member States' competent authorities. Representatives of the Union bodies, offices and agencies concerned may be involved in the proceedings of this committee. The European Parliament and national Parliaments shall be kept informed of the proceedings.

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In Article 2, point 64, of the Treaty of Lisbon the intergovernmental conference presented the wording (as above) of the new Article 61d ToL, which became Article 71 TFEU after renumbering in the consolidated version (OJ 17.12.2007 C 306/57).

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Article 36 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), to be replaced, is found in the latest consolidated version of the treaties, published in the Official Journal, OJ 29.12.2006 C 321 E/28:

Article 36 TEU

1. A Coordinating Committee shall be set up consisting of senior officials. In addition to its coordinating role, it shall be the task of the Committee to:

— give opinions for the attention of the Council, either at the Council's request or on its own initiative,

— contribute, without prejudice to Article 207 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, to the preparation of the Council's discussions in the areas referred to in Article 29.

2. The Commission shall be fully associated with the work in the areas referred to in this title.

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The European Convention proposed the following Article III-162 of the draft Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (OJ 18.7.2003 C 169/58):

Article III-162 Draft Constitution

A standing committee shall be set up within the Council of Ministers in order to ensure that operational cooperation on internal security is promoted and strengthened within the Union. Without prejudice to Article III-247, it shall facilitate coordination of the action of Member States' competent authorities. Representatives of the Union bodies and agencies concerned may be involved in the proceedings of this committee. The European Parliament and Member States' national parliaments shall be kept informed of the proceedings.

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The Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe took over the draft text with only different numbering of the provision and the referrals and minor change in Article III-261 (OJ 16.12.2004 C 310/114):

Article III-261 Constitution

A standing committee shall be set up within the Council in order to ensure that operational cooperation on internal security is promoted and strengthened within the Union. Without prejudice to Article III-344, it shall facilitate coordination of the action of Member States' competent authorities. Representatives of the Union bodies, offices and agencies concerned may be involved in the proceedings of this committee. The European Parliament and national Parliaments shall be kept informed of the proceedings.

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The European Convention clarified the role of the committee by spelling out that its remit was internal security, instead of the current reference to ‘areas referred to in Article 29’, namely third pillar police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

The Constitutional Treaty and the Treaty of Lisbon brought only technical modifications.

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Étienne de Poncins commented on the work of the European Convention in his book ‘Vers une Constitution européenne’ (Éditions 10/18, 2003), page 357:

« Commentaire : l’institution de ce comité est une des nouveautés proposées par la Convention dans la domaine de l’espace de liberté, de securité et de justice. Elle fait suite du constat de l’éclatment actuel des fonctions de coordination opérationelles entre les anciens piliers « communautaire » et « Justice et affaires intérieures » (JAI).

He then added a more audacious perspective, which has been more than fully extrapolated by some:

« Ce comité pourrait donner naissance à une structure opérationnelle préfigurant un état-major de police au niveau de l’Union européenne. Sa compétence devrait couvrir l’ensemble du champ de l’espace de l’espace de liberté, de securité et de justice, c’est-à-dire également la composante de contrôle des frontières extérieures. »

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Ireland

In its April 2008 White Paper ‘The EU Reform Treaty’ (page 67, point 10), the Department of Foreign Affairs of Ireland mentions the new standing committee, but emphasises that the responsibilities of the member states for the maintenance of law and order and internal security are unaffected by the Reform Treaty.

The White Paper is an option for those who want to find out the main points of the Lisbon Treaty in some detail, but still in a readable form. The White Paper and a wealth other information in English and Gaelic is available at the web page ‘The EU Reform Treaty’ of the Department of Foreign Affairs:

http://www.reformtreaty.ie/


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United Kingdom

The House of Lords European Union Committee report ‘The Treaty of Lisbon: an impact assessment, Volume I: Report’ (HL Paper 62-I, published 13 March 2008) discusses the new provision, Article 71 TFEU, setting up a standing committee within the Council. The UK government and the House Committee seemed to share a preference for the new treaty term ‘national security’ to underline areas that are the sole responsibility of the member states, in contrast to the phrase ‘internal security’, which could cover internal security both within member states and within the European Union. Se pages 158 and 159 (points 6.238 to 6.243).

The report is accessible at:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200708/ldselect/ldeucom/62/62.pdf

Professor Steve Peers remarks that ‘This committee can be regarded as a successor to the current Article 36 Committee, which prepares the Council’s policing and criminal law work, although the new committee will have a wholly operational role’. – In Statewatch analysis, EU Reorm Treat: analysis 1: Version 3 JHA provisions (22 October 2007). Available together with the other analyses through:

http://www.statewatch.org/euconstitution.htm



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Finland

The Finnish ratification bill ‘Hallituksen esitys Eduskunnalle Euroopan unionista tehdyn sopimuksen ja Euroopan yhteisön perustamissopimuksen muuttamisesta tehdyn Lissabonin sopimuksen hyväksymisestä ja laiksi sen lainsäädännön alaan kuuluvien määräysten voimaansaattamisesta’ (HE 23/2008 vp) describes the purpose and contents Article 61d TFEU (ToL), renumbered Article 71 TFEU on page 189.

The government remarks that it is the task of the committee to facilitate the coordination of member states’ action. The new committee is not intended to limit the powers of the committee of the permanent representatives of the governments of the member states (Coreper), as pointed out in Article 207 TFEU (ToL), now renumbered Article 240 TFEU (and found on page 202 of the Council’s consolidated version).

The remit of the new committee covers all questions concerning internal security. Thus, it is wider than that of the present Article 36 TEU committee, competent to deal only with questions pertaining to Article 29 TEU. Thus, the new committee can deal with, for instance, border control, asylum or immigration, although these questions are currently dealt with at committee level (SCIFA).



The bill is available at:

http://www.finlex.fi/fi/esitykset/he/2008/20080023.pdf

The Swedish language version of the ratification bill ‘Regeringens proposition till Riksdagen med förslag om godkännande av Lissabonfördraget om ändring av fördraget om Europeiska unionen och fördraget om upprättandet av Europeiska gemenskapen och till lag om sättande i kraft av de bestämmelser i fördraget som hör till området för lagstiftningen’ (RP 23/2008 rp), contains the same remarks on pages 192 and 193.

The ratification bill in Swedish can be accessed at:

http://www.finlex.fi/sv/esitykset/he/2008/20080023.pdf


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Sweden

The consultation paper of the government of Sweden, ‘Lissabonfördraget; Statsrådsberedningen, Departementsserien (Ds), Ds 2007:48’ published 20 December 2007, mentions that the national parliaments and the European Parliament are to be kept informed about the operational committee (page 300).

Evaluating the results of the treaty negotiations, the Swedish government stresses the strategic national importance for Sweden of the continued development of the European police cooperation. The combat against for example trafficking in human beings, the illegal drugs trade and terrorism require well-working police and customs cooperation. The Treaty of Lisbon facilitates cross-border cooperation (page 326).

In a section on page 327, the Swedish government discusses the committee for operational cooperation. The government stresses the idea to focus on Union level strategic questions, and it mentions the role of the committee in the context of the solidarity clause. Additionally, the committee can serve as a forum for the exchange of experiences of work at the national level.

The consultation paper ’Lissabonfördraget’ is available at:

http://www.regeringen.se/content/1/c6/09/49/81/107aa077.pdf

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Representatives of the Union bodies, offices and agencies concerned may be involved in the proceedings of the internal security committee, and the European Parliament and national Parliaments shall be kept informed of the proceedings, but the new permanent committee on internal security is explicitly set up within the Council, namely intergovernmentally.

While ‘internal security’ can mean both the protection of national citizens and of EU citizens, the proposed structures mean no wholesale adoption of a ‘Community’ approach to justice and home affairs, only a gradual realisation of the need for enhanced cooperation.

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The committee on internal security looks like a parallel structure to the political and security committee covering the common foreign and security policy (mentioned in Articles 38 and 43 TEU and in Article 222 TFEU, following the numbering of the Council’s consolidated version).


Ralf Grahn


EU Treaty materials:

If you want to read or download the Council’s consolidated Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) as amended by the Lisbon Treaty, the original Treaty of Lisbon, the current TEU and TEC, the Draft Constitution, the Constitutional Treaty, or other consolidated language versions of the Lisbon Treaty TEU and TFEU, you find the needed information and links in the blawg post ‘Consolidated Treaty of Lisbon and other EU materials’ of 21 April 2008:

http://grahnlaw.blogspot.com/2008/04/consolidated-treaty-of-lisbon-and-other.html