Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Internal Security Communication...EASO in, FRA out?

On 9th February, the Select Committee on the European Union of the UK House of Lords held an inquiry session (unrevised transcript of evidence available) to discuss the EU’s internal security strategy. The Committee questioned witnesses Sir Ian Andrews (Chairman, Serious Organised Crime Agency) and Mr. Mark Bishop, the Agency’s Head of Strategy, Coordination and Development, International Department.

Summarily, the Committee’s role is as follows:

“The European Union Committee of the House of Lords considers EU documents and other EU-related matters in advance of decisions being taken on them. It does this to influence the Government's position in negotiations in Brussels, and to hold them to account for their actions at EU level.

The Government has committed not to agree to anything in the EU Council of Ministers until the Committee has completed its scrutiny. This is called the Scrutiny Reserve Resolution.“

The 9th February session looked into the Commissions recently-published Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council (a good summary of the Communication is provided here). In the Communication - on page 13 - the Commission states its intention to improve national-level interagency cooperation through, inter alia, the development of relevant minimum standards and best practices together with Frontex, Europol and EASO.

Nothing conclusive was said re. EASO during the Committee session, since the witnesses’ responses generally centered on the favourability of interagency/national cooperation to enhance internal security.

There is no denying that asylum and security matters are closely interrelated, so questioning the positioning of EASO with the Commission Communication is not too relevant. Yet if the Commission’s intention is to enhance interagency cooperation within a broader internal security framework, the obvious question is: why has the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) been omitted?

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