Convention divided over proposal to create an EU public prosecutor

The Convention on the future of Europe debated the draft articles on the area of freedom, security and justice at its plenary session on 3 April. Whilst there was wide divergence of positions on the proposed creation of the European public prosecutor, most speakers supported the idea of setting up a European border guard.

Convention members presented over 700 amendments to articles dealing Justice and Home Affairs, which underlines the difficulty of finding a consensus on these issues. While many speakers opposed the intergovernmental nature of certain articles, others argued that the proposals were too “communitarian”.

Over 70 members of the Convention proposed amendments calling for a general application of co-decision and qualified majority voting in this area.

Several speakers underlined that the Justice and Home Affairs issues are very important for the European public opinion which expects more effectiveness from the EU in the fight against cross-border crime and illegal immigration.

 

MEP Elmar Brok(EPP, Germany) said that several members of his political group were in favour of a community method approach to Justice and Home Affairs. The right to legislative initiative should remain with the Member States as the only exception to the community method, according to Mr Brok. He also rejected the possibility that decisions would be taken by unanimity in this area in the enlarged Union of 25 members.

Justice Commissioner Antonio Vitorinosaid that unanimity in the area of Justice and Home Affairs would lead to a paralysis of the Union.

Irish MP John Bruton, who chaired the Convention Working Group on this issue, argued that the EU needs a public prosecutor because only a very small percentage of cross-border crimes are effectively prosecuted today.

 

The Convention Praesidium proposal on the Area of freedom, security and justice (draft Article 31, which is part of Title V of the draft Constitutional Treaty dealing with legal instruments and EU competencies) makes the following recommendations:

  • this area is to be made up of four policies: asylum and immigration, judicial co-operation in civil cases, criminal judicial co-operation and police co-operation;
  • the Commission is to have a right of initiative in this area;
  • the European Court of Justice is to exercise complete judicial control;
  • a post of European public prosecutor is to be created within Eurojust (the judicial component of Europol) to tackle cross-border crime and fraud;
  • decisions are to be taken by qualified majority and in co-decision with the European Parliament in the areas of asylum and immigration and judicial co-operation in civil cases;
  • co-operation on border controls is to be improved;
  • a standing committee on internal security is to be set up within the Council to co-ordinate police, customs and civil protection co-operation.

 

The Convention Praesidium will present the draft articles on institutions and external action at the next Convention plenary session on 24 and 25 April. These articles will be discussed at the plenary session on 15 May.

 

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