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Volume 662: debated on Tuesday 25 June 2019

The Government have not opted into the adoption and application of the Council Decision on the position to be taken, on behalf of the EU, on the EU’s participation as an observer at the meetings of the Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO).

GRECO is a body set up by the Council of Europe (CoE) to monitor compliance with CoE criminal law convention on corruption and the civil law convention on corruption. The EU’s participation in GRECO has been a priority for co-operation between the European Union and the Council of Europe. We are supportive of the EU gaining observer status and attending the June meeting.

The UK and Ireland have a special position under Protocol 21 to the treaty on the functioning of the European Union in relation to JHA measures and have three months from the date of the publication of a legislative proposal to decide whether we want to participate in the measure. The JHA opt-in applies in this case because one of the legal bases of the proposed decision is article 83 TFEU, relating to criminal justice co-operation in relation to serious crimes (including corruption).

The Commission proposal was published on 6 June and adopted at Council on 18 June, to enable the EU to attend the GRECO plenary on 17-21 June 2019 as an observer.

The Government did not therefore have the three month period allowed for in Protocol (No. 21) to the EU treaties to decide whether to opt in to the proposal. The UK is not therefore bound by this Council Decision. The Government judge that in this particular case there is no practical effect of not being bound as the Decision pertains to the EU’s participation as an observer in GRECO. The UK tabled a statement at Council expressing regret at not having the three month period allowed for under the EU treaties to reach this decision. Additionally, the UK underlined that the Council Decision had not gone through Parliamentary scrutiny processes and that the procedure should not constitute a precedent for similar decisions.