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European Police Co-Operation

Volume 202: debated on Thursday 23 January 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress was made at the Maastricht EC summit in the area of EC police co-operation.

The treaty agreed at the European Council at Maastricht provides for a framework for intergovernmental co-operation on justice and home affairs which includes police co-operation in the prevention and combating of terrorism, unlawful drug trafficking and other serious forms of international crime. The European Council also ensorsed proposals for the setting up of a European Police Office (Europol) for the development and exchange of intelligence concerning serious crime.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what will be the initial functions of the proposed Europol; and if Europol will embrace members of (a) the European Community, (b) TREVI and (c) the so-called "friends of TREVI".

Work on the establishment of Europol is being carried out under the auspices of TREVI, which provides a forum for co-operation on policing matters between member states of the European Community. Thus Europol will embrace all member states of the European Community, though there are at present no plans to go beyond this. It has been agreed that, as a first step, a Europol drugs unit will be set up to facilitate the co-ordination of information and intelligence on drugs misuse and trafficking in member states.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress was made in the field of European police co-operation at the last meeting of the TREVI group.

The meeting of TREVI Ministers held in The Hague on 3 December, attended on my behalf by my right hon. Friend the hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Mr. Patten), endorsed measures to strengthen practical police co-operation. These include: the establishment of national contact points for public order matters; guidelines having the aim of strengthening mutual assistance in criminal cases; recommendations on the controlled delivery of drugs; and police co-operation in common frontier zones.The Ministers agreed to submit a report to the European Council, prepared by the ad hoc working group chaired by the United Kingdom, recommending the establishment of a central European criminal investigation office—Europol—with a drugs unit as its first stage.Ministers also agreed, at the United Kingdom's suggestion, that car crime should be placed on TREVI's agenda and that the United Kingdom, at the invitation of the Portuguese presidency, should convene an informal seminar of experts on this subject during the first half of 1992.