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Unprecedented complaint by the Europol Management Board about informal requests for action by Council working parties by-passing legislative processes
01 October 2003
The Chair of the Management Board of Europol has sent a letter of complaint to the Chair of the Article 36 Committee of the Council of the European Union about unconstitutional requests being sent to Europol for action from Council Working Parties. The Management Board of Europol (Article 28 of the Europol Convention) is comprised of senior official drawn from Home/Interior/Justice Ministries (and "experts") from each EU Member State and is chaired by the representative from the Council Presidency (currently Italy). The Article 36 Committee, similarly comprised of high-ranking officials from the same national Ministries, oversees work on police and judicial cooperation under Title VI of the Treaty on European Union.
The Management Board of Europol oversees all Europol's work including its annual work programme and budget. Each year the Council of the European Union (the 15 EU governments) agrees on the work programme and budget for the forthcoming year and the Management Board is charged with ensuring that Europol's staff implement it. Europol is an agency set up by the Council and financed by the Member States.
The letter from the Chair of the Management Board, Rudolfo Ronconi, says that there is "growing concern" that the "legislative framework applied to Europol and its work was not always applied". In particular:
"on several occasions Council working groups have asked Europol to carry out task originally not foreseen by its yearly work programmes and budgets"
The letter goes on to say that any initiatives outside the agreed work programmes cannot entail "any obligation on Europol" until confirmed by an express decision by the Council. Indeed where new initiatives are called for by a Council Working Party the Management Board should be given the chance to comment before the Council takes a decision on the matter.
The Chair calls on the Article 36 Committee to "bring this letter to the attention of the General Secretariat" in order to ensure that "appropriate procedures" are followed.
Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, comments:
"We have a situation where Council Working Parties have by-passed the Council of Ministers and the Europol Management Board and sent requests for action direct to Europol itself, not once but on "several occasions". Clearly these irregular requests have been sent by the officials in the General Secretariat of the Council who service all working parties. This is unconstitutional and illegal. How long has this been going on? What were these irregular requests? Have Europol acted on these requests"
Letter from Chair of the Management Board of Europol to the Council: Letter