In mid-2014 Parliament has the right to opt-out of about 135 EU Police and Criminal Justice Measures – this includes the hated and notorious European Arrest Warrant. This would be a golden opportunity for the Coalition Government to ‘reclaim powers’ from the EU and protect our most basic freedoms under the law. But that is not what they are going to do.
The Home Secretary has instead announced that they will opt-out of 100 of those measures but opt-in to 35, which are ‘in the national interest’. Closer examination reveals something else. The 100 measures being rejected are in fact things that are either redundant, superseded by other EU legislation, covered by national legislation, or purely rhetorical in nature.
The 35 that are left are in fact the most dangerous of the lot. They include the European Arrest Warrant, the European Confiscation Order, and various other ‘mutual recognition’ legal instruments that put British citizens under the jurisdiction of the EU.
The planned European Investigation Order will allow empower foreign police forces to order British police forces to investigate British citizens on their behalf. There was not even an option to opt-out of this because it was a ‘post-Lisbon’ measure that Theresa May enthusiastically opted into in 2010 – with no option to opt-out later.
After the opt-in the European Commission has power to sue the UK Government in the European Court of Justice if it feels we have failed to comply with its legislation. Our own courts will have to interpret our own law in a way best promoting the goals of corresponding EU legislation. This will politicise our courts for the first time in our history.
In a large number of criminal cases both parties will have the right to apply to the European Court of Justice to resolve a dispute in the interpretation of EU law. There are various institutions and EU-wide police and criminal intelligence databases that help to develop Europol as the EU’s own police and intelligence service. The Government has ‘opted-out’ of the planned European Public Prosecutor but this is another sleight of hand as the Prosecutor can easily circumvented our opt-out by other means, for example my use of the European Arrest Warrant.
I could go on and on but there is not room here. I am soon to publish a detailed analysis of all these measures, and you can obtain an electronic copy by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has done an excellent job of reminding us why it is called the ‘Con’servative Party. But let me leave the final word here to the House of Commons Select Committee that concluded:
“If the Government proceeds with the opt-in as proposed, we note that it will not result in any repatriation of powers. Indeed, the increased jurisdiction of the ECJ may result in the net flow of powers in the opposite direction.”