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Friday, November 17, 2006

Boring but important

The Commons European Scrutiny Committee has published a report today on the EU Commission's proposal to move criminal justice and policing into the first pillar of the EU's treaties. This would almost certainly abolish the UK's veto over things like a new proposal on rights for suspects in custody and the creation of harmonised criminal laws across the EU. It would also make the ECJ Britain's highest criminal court, giving it the power to decide our substantive criminal law.

Reading the conclusions of the report I feel sorry for the clerks who - you sense - really want to rip into the proposal, but are required to be more balanced than they would like to be. Nonetheless, despite the necessary "on one hand and on the other", they still produce a pretty tough conclusion:

"it appears to us that the proposal to use the passerelle does not offer significant gains for the UK."

We couldn't agree more. The report goes on to argue that if the proposal went ahead:

"the present certainty about the existence of the means to protect the UK's interests would be replaced by uncertainty and risks."

This report follows on from an in-depth analysis by the House of Lords on ths issue. The Commons Home Affairs Committee is also about to begin an investigation into the proposal. I would guess that just like the Commons EU committee they will be just as opposed to attempts by the EU to reduce their role in deciding what constitutes a criminal offence and how it should be punished on behalf of their voters.

One final observation - the EU Scrutiny Committee reports that the Government told them that the proposals are a non-starter and that the debate around the proposal is "over".

Sounds like wishful thinking to us... Any bets on how long it will take before the Government has to eat its words?

1 comment:

Tomáš Ruta said...

Within the EU, the citizens roam freely. That implies that so do the criminals. The same logic which makes the rules the same across the UK should apply here.

Apart from that, Britains has got appalling record on home affairs - high reoffending rate, light sentencing etc. It will only do it good to learn a lesson from Europe.