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EU negotiating secret agreement with US on judicial cooperation in criminal matters
01 March 2002
The Council of the European Union is set to negotiate, in secret, an agreement with the US on cooperation in criminal matters. The Informal meeting of Justice and Affairs Ministers in Santiago de Compostela on 14-15 February" gave their political endorsement to the process of negotiating an agreement with the US on judicial cooperation in criminal matters" - it should be noted that the proposed agreement would cover "criminal matters" in general (not terrorism). Such an agreement would cover extradition and the collection and exchange of evidence.
This move is in point 55 in the EU's "Action Plan on Terrorism" (15.2.02). Apparently "exploratory discussions began in Brussels" on 24 September followed by meeting in Washington on 18 October and another in Brussels on 11 February. It is intended that "one or several agreements" with the US will be agreed under Article 38 of the Treaty on European Union - this allows EU governments to conclude international agreements without any consultation with the European or national parliaments, let alone civil society.
What is under discussion in the EU at the moment is not the final agreement itself but the issues to be put on the table and to be "informally" discussed with the US before formal agreement - during this process the EU governments work out their negotiating position vis a vis the US.
It is intended that the mandate for formal negotiations be agreed by the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 25 April.
The relevant document which contains details of the discussions so far is classified as secret (Restricted) and not to be released to the public. Indeed it is unlikely that any documents will be made until the formal agreement with the US is agreed.
"Draft negotiation mandate with the USA on judicial cooperation in criminal matters": 6648/02