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Justice and Home Affairs Pre-Council Statement

Volume 650: debated on Wednesday 5 December 2018

The EU Justice and Home Affairs Council of Ministers will meet on 6 and 7 December in Brussels. The Minister for Immigration, my right hon. Friend the Member for Romsey and Southampton North (Caroline Nokes), will represent the UK for Interior day. The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, my right hon. Friend the Member for South West Hertfordshire (Mr Gauke), will represent the UK for Justice day. The Scottish Government Minister for Community Safety, Ash Denham, MSP, will also attend for Justice day.

Interior day on 6 December will begin with a policy debate on the proposed regulation to amend the European border and coast guard regulation. The regulation aims to reinforce the EU’s integrated border management strategy and further protect the external EU borders by providing the European Border and Coast Guard Agency with a standing corps of 10,000 staff with executive powers, dedicated equipment and the remit to act in third countries. This is a Schengen building measure which the UK does not participate in.

The Commission will present a progress report on the proposed recast of the EU returns directive. The UK chose not to participate in the current version of this directive, and has yet to decide whether to participate in this recast.

The presidency will seek agreement to a general approach on the proposed regulation on preventing the dissemination of terrorist content online. The UK supports this proposal which seeks to address the threat posed by the high-speed dissemination of terrorist content online. The UK is content with the outcome of negotiations on the regulation and is supportive of the proposed text, and of adoption of this regulation as soon as possible.

In the main Council and over lunch, there will be further debate on the comprehensive approach on migration, and on the reform of the common European asylum system, specifically the issue of solidarity, responsibility and relocation in the context of the Dublin IV proposal. The UK does not participate in the Dublin IV proposal. The Council will also discuss measures to tackle organised immigration crime. The UK supports work to strengthen the EU’s external borders and to intensify relationships with key third countries in order to break smuggling networks and ensure that refuge is given to those who qualify for international protection.

There will also be a policy debate on Justice and Home Affairs: Priorities for the next MFF (2021-27). These programmes will commence after the UK’s exit from the EU and the end of the envisaged implementation period. The UK will not be participating in any future programmes as a member state.

During Justice day on 7 December, the presidency will seek to agree a general approach on the sale of goods directive.

The presidency will be seeking agreement to a general approach on the recast of Brussels IIa, the foundation EU regulation on family law. The proposed text of the recast improves the procedures supplementing the 1980 Hague convention regarding abducted children; the placement of a child in another member state; automatic recognition of judgments, authentic instruments and agreements; enforcement of these in other member states; and co-operation between the central authorities responsible for the administration of cases arising from the regulation. It also introduces a provision to provide an opportunity for a child to express his or her views in proceedings under the regulation.

The Council will discuss the proposal on the third-party effects of assignment of claims. The focus will be a policy debate on article 4, which determines the basic rule of the proposal. The options for the basic rule are either the law of habitual residence or the law of the assigned claim. The UK has not opted into this proposal so will not intervene. The UK is content with either rule providing there is no disruption to current financial market practice.

The Council will discuss the proposed regulation relating to improving law enforcement access to data held by communication service providers (e-evidence), with the aim of achieving a general approach. As the UK is not participating in the regulation, we do not have a vote and will not intervene.

The Commission is expected to provide an update at this Council on the preparation of draft EU negotiating mandates for the second additional protocol to the (Budapest) cyber-crime convention and to open discussions with the US on the CLOUD Act. The Government will consider the implications of these proposals for the UK when they are published by the Commission.

The Commission will provide an update on the planned preparatory steps on the legal and organisational measures to be taken to make the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) operational. The UK does not participate in the EPPO.

The presidency will be presenting a “state of play” paper on data retention. This reflects working level discussions on responding to the Court of Justice of the European Union’s judgments on the lawful retention of communications data.

Ministers will discuss, and be asked to approve, Council conclusions on ways to reinforce judicial co-operation in criminal justice through mutual recognition tools, including the European arrest warrant and European investigation order. The UK values our co-operation under these tools and will highlight our commitment to the principle of mutual recognition and the importance of close operational working between member states to ensure that they function efficiently.

There will also be a state of play item on EU accession to the ECHR.