Where now for accountability in the EU? (1)
01 April 2001
The annual report for Europol is now published in two forms: a public "sanitised" version and a secret version which is only marked "Limite" (which is not a classified document). The latter version has been accessible to citizens since Europol's predecessor - the Europol Drugs Unit - was set up in June 1993.
An annual report on the operations of the Schengen Convention (including details on the Schengen Information System, SIS) was published since it became operational in 1995. Now there to be no more annual reports on Schengen even though its remit and practices are being expanded - the SIS is the biggest law enforcement database in the EU.
Graham Watson MEP, chair of the Citizens' Freedoms and Rights Committee in the European Parliament has issued the following press statement:
MEP DEMANDS FULL RIGHTS TO EUROPOL DOCUMENTS FOR EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
"The Chairman of the European Parliament's Justice and Home Affairs Committee, UK Liberal Democrat Graham Watson MEP, has demanded full rights of access to documents produced by Europol and other EU-funded organisations.
Mr Watson's demand follows the news that Europol is to publish one "public" version of its 1999 Annual Report and one "secret" version, which although not officially a classified document will not be released to the EU institutions.
Protesting at the new policy, Mr Watson said: "In the interests of openness it is essential for us to receive the full version of the Europol report. Refusing to release a non-classified document is not only a snub to European regulations but also a step backwards for transparency and the rights of the EU institutions and citizens to have access to documents that concern them."
As Chairman of the Committee that deals with access to documents, I suggest that EU institutions simply refuse to consider the sanitised version of any report and demand the full document."
Contact: (00 44) 1458 259176 - Constituency Office, Langport (Sue Curtis)
(00 32) 2 284 7626 - European Parliament Office, Brussels (Katherine
Every year since the Europol Drugs Unit (EDU) was set up in June 1993 the Council of the European Union produced an annual report on its activities that was adopted by the Justice and Home Affairs Council and made available to parliaments and citizens. In July 1999, with the completion of the ratification of the Europol Convention by all 15 national parliaments in the EU, Europol formally took over from the EDU and commenced its work. An unannounced change of policy then followed.
In April 2000 the Article 36 Committee received the Europol Annual Report after it had been agreed by the Europol Management Board. The report was adopted by the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 29 May 2000 as an "A Point" (without debate, doc no 7728/2/00). When Statewatch applied to the Council for a copy of the document in May we were told that this version contained "operational" details and that a "public version" would be made available later in the year when it was sent to the European Parliament evn though it is not a classified document.
The "public version" did appear on the Europol website in September last year. However, this version is clearly marked "All rights reserved" under copyright and may not be reproduced in whole or part without the permission of Europol. This version is also punctuated by glossy pictures. It is available on: www.europol.eu.int
How the "secret" version compares with the "public" version
Statewatch obtained a copy of the report it was refused by the Council and the report that follows here is taken from this version. It opens with a Foreword signed by Mr Jürgen Storbeck, the Director of Europol. This is very general but does express frustration with the Justice and Home Affairs Council over the delay in setting up the means for exchanging data with non-EU sta