Member states’ interior ministers will today (9 June) seek to sidestep a quarrel with the European Parliament on how to decide where to locate European Union agencies.
The dispute has delayed an agreement to launch a new agency to oversee EU-wide databases used by law-enforcement authorities in member states.
The member states agreed in December that this agency should have its seat in Tallinn, capital of Estonia, while most of its technical operations, in a concession to France, are to be located in Strasbourg.
Negotiators for the Parliament, led by Carlos Coelho, a Portuguese centre-right MEP, demanded that this political agreement be incorporated into the actual text of the draft regulation, which requires the backing of member states and MEPs to become law.
The EU’s established practice has been for the member states to decide the location of agencies, with MEPs having no say. Several governments saw the Parliament’s move as an attempted power-grab.
The dispute is the only major issue standing in the way of a legislative agreement between member states and the Parliament on the new agency.
Interior ministers meeting in Luxembourg today will seek to defuse the quarrel by accepting the Parliament’s demand, while saying in a statement that this has no bearing on future decisions about locating agencies.
Strasbourg already hosts the Schengen Information System, one of three existing databases that are to be managed by the new “Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice”.
The other two are the Visa Information System, also linked to the EU’s Schengen area, and Eurodac, which collects fingerprints of asylum-seekers, to prevent multiple asylum applications by the same person.
The new agency was proposed by the European Commission in June 2009, in draft legislation that was amended after the Lisbon treaty entered into force that December.
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