That Dáil Éireann approves the exercise by the State of the option or discretion under Protocol No. 21 on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the area of freedom, security and justice annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, to take part in the adoption and application of the following proposed measure:
Proposal for a Council Decision on the position to be taken on behalf of the European Union in the Specialised Committee on Law Enforcement and Judicial Cooperation established by the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community, of the one part, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of the other part, regarding the extension of the period referred to in Article 540(3) of the EU UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (Prüm) during which DNA-profiles and fingerprints can be exchanged with the United Kingdom,
a copy of which was laid before Dáil Éireann on 13th September, 2021.
I am speaking on behalf of the Minister for Justice on a motion referring to a draft proposal by the Council of the European Union on the extension of the period defined in the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, to allow the continued sharing of DNA profiles, fingerprints and vehicle registration data, also known as "Prüm" data, with the United Kingdom. This is an essential tool for law enforcement across the EU and, of course, is of particular value to law enforcement co-operation between Ireland the UK. Deputies will be aware that if Ireland wishes to take part in an EU measure with a legal basis that falls under Title V of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, TFEU, Oireachtas approval under Article 29.4.7° of the Constitution is required.
The Council intends to adopt this measure on 24 September 2021. Therefore, it is necessary to secure Oireachtas approval, as a matter of urgency. In light of this, I ask Deputies to pass this motion without a vote. It is worth noting that this measure provides for the continuation of existing arrangements for a period of nine months, from 1 October 2021, until 30 June 2022, of the time period set out in the trade and co-operation agreement, TCA, to share Prüm data. I trust that Deputies understand the urgency and necessity of this motion passing today.
It is anticipated that the European Commission will have completed an evaluation of the UK by 30 June 2022 and a mechanism will be the subject of a separate decision, which will come before the Houses in advance of that date. My Department has provided a short note for the attention of the Business Committee, which Deputies will have seen and it provides some background information on this draft Council proposal. I will now give some additional information, which underpins why it is necessary for Ireland to opt into this measure. The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement stipulates that member states may continue to supply Prüm data to the United Kingdom, pending the outcome of evaluations required by the TCA, until 30 September 2021. This interim period can be extended once, until 30 June 2022, by the specialised committee on law enforcement and judicial co-operation.
An evaluation of the UK by the European Commission, to permit ongoing sharing of Prüm data will not be concluded by the end of September. Consequently, the Commission has published this proposal, in order to facilitate the extension of the period to ensure the continued exchange of Prüm-related data. Without the extension to the interim period, as set out in the TCA, Prüm data will cease to be shared between the EU and the UK from midnight, 30 September 2021. As Deputies will understand, if this were to happen, it could potentially have serious repercussions in the investigation and prosecution of criminal cases. The views of the Office of the Attorney General were sought and the legal advice received has confirmed that Oireachtas approval, under Article 29.4.7° of the Constitution, is required.
I emphasise that the effective implementation of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement is an EU priority and Ireland will play its full part in that. I have previously mentioned that this is a necessary measure to ensure there is no break in the sharing of Prüm data between Ireland and the UK, which is vital for law enforcement. Ireland's role in the EU has changed in recent times and will continue to evolve in the coming years. Full implementation of the TCA is necessary for us, not only to play our part as an EU member state but to ensure that our post-Brexit relationship with the UK continues to grow and develop. Part of this relationship is ensuring that the safety and security of our citizens is protected and this measure is necessary to do that.
I trust that the House can support the exercise of Ireland's opt-in in respect of this measure.