French government demands that the Schengen police cooperation handbook is updated

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EU: French government demands the Schengen police cooperation "timetable" is updated
- and calls on Schengen states to "disassociate" themselves from draft prepared by the Council General Secretariat

The French government had called on the Schengen member states to disassociate themselves from a draft "Schengen timetable" on cross-border police cooperation which has been drawn up by DG H (Justice and Home Affairs) of the Council of the European Union's General Secretariat - which it drew up "on its own initiative" and which cannot be a substitute for the "Schengen timetable" because the document:

"-  does not have a legal basis;
 -  is outside of the framework for Schengen police cooperation;
 - is not intended for the same audience and cannot be used by operational services;
 - cannot be integrated into national instructions by member states;
-  does not fulfill the format that is required by the Schengen acquis"

The French delegation say, in a Note to the Council's Police Cooperation Working Party, that: "the format of the timetable cannot be modified other than through a decision by member states", that is to say this power is not within the remit of DG H of the General Secretariat.

The "Schengen timetable" on police cooperation is based on two files:

"a general file that presented an overall view of the concerned measure; eventually other forms would be annexed to it, such as the form to request judicial cooperation from cross-border observation"

and national files interpreting the coordinates (relevant contact details) of the competent authorities to be contacted.

Until the Schengen acquis was incorporated under the Amsterdam Treaty (which came into effect in May 1999) the "Schengen timetable" was updated and member states consulted with the results prepared and circulated by the Schengen General Secretariat. However, "after the entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty, the updating of the Schengen timetable in the way required by the Ministers never took place, in spite of reiterated requests (for this to happen) by the Presidencies."

The French delegation is calling for the Schengen timetable be re-established (based on the SCH/I (98) 90) and the national files be updated as soon as possible especially in the light of enlargement.

Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:

"It would appear this is example of the General Secretariat of the Council trying to take centralised control of a function which properly belongs to the member states. It is also another instance of the deficit in accountability which followed the incorporation of the Schengen acquis - there used to be a public annual report on Schengen activities, since the Amsterdam Treaty came into force this has disappeared"

Note from French delegation to the Police Cooperation Working Party, 28.5.03: 9861/03 (pdf in French)

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