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Written Statements

Volume 611: debated on Wednesday 8 June 2016

Written Statement

Wednesday 8 June 2016

Home Department

Justice and Home Affairs Pre-council Statement

The final Justice and Home Affairs Council of the Dutch presidency will take place on 9 and 10 June in Luxembourg. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Immigration (James Brokenshire) will attend the justice day and I will attend the interior day.

Justice day (9 June) will begin with a discussion on the draft directive on the supply of digital content. The presidency will present a paper outlining progress in negotiations. The Immigration Minister will welcome progress on this dossier.

The presidency will next seek a general approach on the draft regulations relating to matrimonial property regimes and registered partnerships. These proposals are being considered under the enhanced co-operation procedure, and the UK does not participate.

The presidency will seek member states’ support for the way forward on a range of issues relating to the internal functioning of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO). The UK is clear that it will not participate in an EPPO.

Next on the agenda will be a progress report on negotiations on the draft directive on the protection of the Union’s financial interests. The UK has not opted into this directive.

The presidency will seek support for the proposal to extend the European criminal record information system (ECRIS) to include third country (non-EU) nationals. The Immigration Minister will intervene to support the principles behind the ECRIS proposal and to emphasise the importance of finding a suitable technical solution.

Over lunch, the presidency intends to hold a discussion on compensation for victims of crime. It will focus on improving co-operation between member states’ competent authorities to enhance access to compensation for victims of crime in the EU.

After lunch, the presidency will seek agreement of Council conclusions on improving criminal justice in cyberspace and a steer from Ministers on the direction of further work by an expert group, notably around jurisdictional issues. The Immigration Minister will intervene to agree the importance of tackling cybercrime and to stress that best use should be made of existing tools.

The presidency will present a report setting out a mid-term review of the e-Justice Action Plan 2014-18.

Under any other business, the presidency will update on discussions with service providers on tackling online hate speech.

The presidency will also update Ministers on the recent EU-US JHA ministerial meeting in Amsterdam on 1-2 June, and the Slovakian presidency will present its JHA priorities.

Interior day (10 June) will begin with a discussion on the draft weapons directive, which relates to the control of the acquisition and possession of weapons. The presidency will seek a general approach on this directive. I will welcome the presidency’s efforts to reach this position but will continue to press for more restrictive controls on some types of weapons.

The Council will then turn to the presidency’s data-sharing road map. The road map contains a number of practical proposals aimed at enhancing data sharing between EU member states for JHA purposes, which reflects proposals from the UK and France. I welcome the presidency’s prioritisation of this work to enhance internal security across Europe.

The next discussion, on the fight against terrorism, will focus on a paper from the European Counter Terrorism Co-ordinator which makes a number of recommendations, including promoting the role of the Europol Counter Terrorism Centre (EUCTC) in tackling the terrorist threat. I will support the work of the EUCTC in tackling terrorist finance, online radicalisation and firearms, while re-asserting the importance of respecting Member State competence in relation to national security.

Next, the presidency will seek an exchange of views on a report on the implementation the renewed internal security strategy, which is a Council-led initiative. I support the implementation of the strategy.

Over lunch, the presidency will lead a discussion on migration, before a formal agenda item on the implementation of the EU-Turkey statement of 18 March and on migration through the central Mediterranean. I will seek to ensure a continued focus in the Council on the effective implementation of the statement, and that the Council continues to retain oversight of both the levels of migration through the central Mediterranean and activities to manage this migration.

The Council will then discuss proposals on the relationship between the Schengen states and Georgia, Ukraine, Kosovo, and Turkey. The presidency will seek a general approach in relation to Georgia and an exchange of views on the other proposals. There are no direct policy implications for the UK as we do not participate in the immigration and border aspects of the Schengen area.

Next on the agenda is the European border and coast guard, where the presidency will provide a progress update on negotiations with the European Parliament. The UK supports action by Schengen states to improve management of the external border. The UK will, of course, not participate in this Schengen-building measure.

The Council will then turn to a discussion on the situation within the Schengen area as far as internal controls are concerned, based on a report from the Commission covering developments up to March 2016. The UK does not participate in the border elements of Schengen.

Under any other business, the Commission will formally present their proposals to the Council on reform of the common European asylum system. No discussion is expected on this item. The presidency will also update Ministers on the outcomes from the high-level meeting on cyber-security, which took place in Amsterdam on 12-13 May.