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Parliamentary questions
8 December 2010
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 117
Sophia in 't Veld (ALDE)

 Subject: US Visa Waiver Program

On 10 November 2010 Commissioner Malmström declared to the Members of the European Parliament that ‘following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty and the abolition of the former pillar structure, all conditions for the US Visa Waiver Program now fall under EU competence’. As a result, this also applies to cooperation with the US on serious crime, counter-terrorism initiatives and information-sharing, issues formerly covered by the bilateral track(1).

1. Could the Commission confirm that, as a result of this, it is no longer possible — as a condition of the US Visa Waiver Program — for EU Member States to sign and conclude agreements with the US bilaterally?

2. Is the Commission aware of the ruling of the European Court of Justice that states that, where common rules have been adopted, the Member States no longer have the right to undertake obligations with non-member countries which affect those rules(2)?

3. Is the Commission aware that the Netherlands signed the PCSC Agreement (cooperation on matching of fingerprints and DNA samples) with the US on 19 November 2010? What is the view of the Commission on this? Does the Commission believe that this bilateral agreement will affect the rules laid down in the European Prüm Treaty? What action will the Commission take?

4. Could the Commission clarify what the current status is of those 14 bilateral agreements — as a condition for the US Visa Waiver Program — that were signed and concluded before the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty? Are they still compatible with EC law after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty? Is so, why? If not, what action will the Commission take?

5. Could the Commission confirm that the bilateral agreements, as a condition for the Visa Waiver Program, are in compliance with EU data protection laws? Did the Commission check this before the bilateral agreements were signed?

6. Could the Commission clarify whether it is possible for data that are covered by the Prüm Treaty and collected in one EU Member State to be passed to the US by another EU Member State through a bilateral agreement with the US?

7. Could the Commission confirm that the principle of reciprocity applies in these bilateral agreements? Do EU Member States have access to equivalent data covered by the bilateral agreements in exchange for visa waiver for US citizens travelling to the EU?

(2)ERTA Case 22/70 Commission v Council (1971) ECR 263.

 OJ C 265 E, 09/09/2011
Last updated: 15 December 2010Legal notice