Statewatch article: RefNo# 2906
EU: Justice and Home Affairs Council28 September 2000
Statewatch bulletin, vol 10 no 5 (September-October 2000) (September-October 2000)
The main Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA) was held in Brussels on 28 September. Around this meeting there had been an Informal Justice and Home Affairs Council in Marseille in July and another JHA Council (held jointly with the ECOFIN Council on financial crime) in Luxembourg on 17 October. The French Presidency of the EU, member states and the Commission have a mass of new measures on the table. It is argued that the measures are part of the commitments flowing from the Tampere Summit in October 1999 (see Statewatch, vol 9 no 5). Another reason is that many of the long-term developments in justice and home affairs are finally online. For example, a whole series of measures would extend the role of Europol (which became operational in July 1999), others seek to extend the role of the Schengen Information System, while a raft of proposals deal with asylum-seekers ("harmonising" procedures for accepting, reception, granting and withdrawal of permission to stay) - and the French Presidency has introduced four highly controversial proposals on expulsion, carrier sanctions and criminalising those who help refugees (see Statewatch, vol 10 no 3/4).

Graham Watson MEP, the chair of the European Parliament's Committee on Citizens Freedoms and Rights, said:

"There are now something like 35 to 40 individual member state initiatives on the table. This is creating a real log-jam in the policies and is a mess."

The European Parliament is not alone, many of the initiatives came out at the beginning of the summer and over the summer period. Most national parliaments only started work again in September or even in October and the deadlines for them to carry out any scrutiny is unacceptably short (many measures are just "nodded" through). On top of this the media have left most of these initiatives unreported and voluntary groups and NGOs are finding it very hard to monitor the measures. It is expected that the JHA Council on 30 November - 1 December, which will mark the end of the French Presidency's term, will see a stream of new measures going through.

Issues agreed/discussed

Visa requirements and exemptions for third country nationals: the Council discussed the draft Regulation which would create two lists: a "positive list" for third countries whose nationals would not need a visa when entering the EU and a "negative list" of those countries whose nationals would need a visa (that already exists unofficially). Discussion centred on a) Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia: the Commission wanted Romania and Slovakia on the "positive list" and Denmark wanted Slovakia; b) Hong Kong and Macao which the Commission wanted on the "positive list"; c) Colombia which Spain wanted taken off the "negative list". It was decided that Romania and Bulgaria should be on the "positive list" but only subject to their conforming with EU demands on passports, border controls and police cooperation. It was not agreed to move Slovakia off the "negative list". Nor was there any agreement on Hong Kong and Macao with France, Germany and the Netherlands opposed.

Europol authorised to deal with all forms of money-laundering: the meeting agreed on the text of a proposal to extend the role of Europol to deal with all forms of money-laundering "regardless of the type of offence from which the laundered proceeds originate". Currently Europol can only deal with money-laundering where it relates to the "forms of crime" listed in the Annex to the Convention. The Council is allowed to do this under Article 43.3 of the Convention. It will be adopted at the 30 November meeting.

Conditions for the reception of asylum-seekers: a "policy debate" was held on: financial assistance, conditions of movement and access to employment for asylum-seekers. This new measure is intended to "harmonise" conditions in all EU member states to stop so-called "asylum-shopping".

EUROJUST: The purpose of EUROJUST, which will be based in the Hague al

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