Opting out of EU Justice measures

 

  Yesterday we were left none the wiser about what Labour would do concerning our right to opt out of a large number of Criminal Justice measures next year. They told us in their debate on the topic that several measures we could opt out from were important, but left it unclear whether they would opt out from all and then opt back in to some, or whether they would allow a large range of Criminal Justice powers to pass under the control of the European Court by opting out of none.

      I made the point that we want to opt out of these measures, as we wish to have control of our criminal law here in the UK, not find we are powerless thanks to future ECJ decisions. The potential opt out was the one good thing in the Lisbon Treaty. It is important the Uk uses its right. It looks as if the government does plan to opt out of all, and are still considering the issue of whether any of them are the best way of co-operating in justice matters with the rest of the EU. I urged the government not to opt back in, but to make a bilateral agreement with the rest of the EU on matters where we need co-operation across borders.

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22 Comments

  1. lifelogic
    Posted June 13, 2013 at 5:15 am | Permalink

    The problem is that Labour will, almost certainly opt in, after the 2015 election. This thanks to Cameron having thrown away the last election and, it appears, the one in 2015 too. Now under two years away, how are Cameron’s negotiations coming on? Has he even decided what powers he would like back? One suspects he has not even given it a second thought. He certainly has not said much.

    • Hope
      Posted June 13, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

      He made the point earlier this week he wants to stay in the EU. That sums it up in a nutshell. The rest is sophistry in the hope to get votes. There is only one party offering a serious alternative to the current status quo and that is UKIP.

  2. Jerry
    Posted June 13, 2013 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    Totally agree John but really people are more worried about what the Coalition are going to do tomorrow, next week, next month, even next year, not what Labour might do if they win the next election, stop sounding as though the election is all but run…

    Just because it was a opposition day debate it doesn’t follow that the opposition should be showing their hand, many a time the Tories didn’t do so in their years of opposition, some such debate seem to be more about probing the government – so how is the government going to use our opt-out?

  3. Mike Stallard
    Posted June 13, 2013 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    He who pays the piper calls the tune. I wonder who is paying for the Labour Party and what views they hold on the subject of Justice? I suspect very few. Better perhaps to shut up rather than say the wrong thing.

    Our Common Law and our own parliamentary history are magnificent examples of decency and open justice. On the continent of Europe, I deeply regret, such principles do not always apply do they. And the Europeans, (French, German, Pole, Spanish, Italian) have a very different tradition.
    It is sinister, too, how their ideas are creeping in over here too. For instance our kow towing to extraordinary rendition, our misuse of terrorist laws, our secret family courts, and our subservience to the Human Rights industry…….
    (

    • uanime5
      Posted June 13, 2013 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      Our Common Law and our own parliamentary history are magnificent examples of decency and open justice.

      No they’re not. The common law was so unjust that the court of equity had to be created to remedy these judgements.

      On the continent of Europe, I deeply regret, such principles do not always apply do they.

      They don’t always apply in the UK as well. Believing that the UK has the best legal system and that any changes to this legal system always make it worse is just naive thinking.

      It is sinister, too, how their ideas are creeping in over here too. For instance our kow towing to extraordinary rendition, our misuse of terrorist laws, our secret family courts, and our subservience to the Human Rights industry

      1) The UK supported extraordinary rendition so it’s hardly fair to blame the EU for this.

      2) The UK’s misuse of terrorist laws is due to faults with the UK’s laws, not EU laws.

      3) The secret family courts are due to UK law, not EU law. They’re also not new.

      4) If the Government would stop making laws that violated people’s human rights then the courts wouldn’t need to keep criticising the Government.

      So it seems that all these problems are due to UK law, not EU law.

  4. Anthem
    Posted June 13, 2013 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    So it seems we’re a bit out of tune with the EU on immigration, on benefits for immigrants, on climate change and on “criminal justice” (to name just a few which have cropped up on these pages of late).

    Other than that, nothing a simple bit of “renegotiation” can’t solve. Good luck.

  5. Boudicca
    Posted June 13, 2013 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Reports in the papers yesterday indicated that the Government will opt out of the EU Criminal Justice measures and then decide piecemeal which elements the UK will choose to opt back in to.

    Apparently the Conservative side of the coalition want to opt in to about 30 elements, and the LibDems about 70. So they are negotiating and will eventually agree on about 45.

    Thus will the British system of justice, Common Law and Habeas Corpus – which evolved over centuries – be further damaged by the old political parties who see no need to consult the British people over their governance, the destruction of their justice system or anything else when it comes to creating their aim of a United States of Europe.

    Reply Conservative MPs like me warned them yesterday not to opt back in to measures.

    • Bob
      Posted June 13, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      “Reply Conservative MPs like me warned them yesterday not to opt back in to measures. “

      John,
      The problem is that there aren’t enough conservatives like you in the Tory Party. Sad but true.

    • uanime5
      Posted June 13, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      Thus will the British system of justice, Common Law and Habeas Corpus – which evolved over centuries – be further damaged by the old political parties who see no need to consult the British people over their governance

      Either provide evidence that this will happen, or admit that you’re just scaremongering and have no idea what effect any of these laws will have.

      All the vast majority of the common law doesn’t go back more than 50 years and wasn’t created by consulting the British people.

  6. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted June 13, 2013 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    From the Centre fro European Reform:
    “The 2014 opt-out is likely to be remembered as an act of diplomatic self-harm by the UK”.
    (Britain’s 2014 justice opt-out, cer.org.uk, jan. 2014)

    • Bob
      Posted June 13, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      @PVL

      Better dilomatic than actual.

  7. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted June 13, 2013 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    The government still cannot tell us which of these criminal justice measures they wish to opt back into, having opted out of all of them. How long before we learn that Clegg won’t allow Cameron to do any of it?

  8. Denis Cooper
    Posted June 13, 2013 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Well, according to David Lidington:

    “British business finds it helpful to have a European Court of Justice applying the rules of the single market with clarity and, one would hope, with fairness.”

    And of course whatever British business says it wants it must have.

    Even if what British business wants means that innocent Britons get carted off to foreign prisons on EU Arrest Warrants without the need for any prima facie evidence of guilt to be produced, what does that matter to British business?

    Mind you, it seems that sort of thing does matter when it’s British businessmen who are being subjected to similar fast-track extradition to the US, then leading Tories will mount campaigns against that injustice.

  9. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted June 13, 2013 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    All of this emphasizes the need to specify red lines in our negotiating stance when seeking a new relationship with the EU. And they need to go into the 2015 manifesto. The Conservative Party has two years to prepare for this, so there can be no excuses for failing to do so. Conservative Eurosceptics inside parliament must impose constraints on the Prime Minister’s negotiating mandate.

    All of this implies putting a pistol at the head of the EU when negotiating. These are our minimum demands and we will recommend an out vote if we don’t get them.

  10. alan jutson
    Posted June 13, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    What is to consider.

    Do we want to govern ourselves or not ?

    If we give up on this one John, then we may as well give up and let the EU run our Country and do away with Parliament altogether, as it will only be time before we have given up on everything.

    The very simple way to start renegotiation, is to stop accepting any more controls on anything from now on in, which otherwise may then need to be renegotiated at a later stage.
    Has the penny not yet dropped !!!!!

    Or

    Is this renegotiation ploy just a scam to buy time until the next election promise.

    • Bob
      Posted June 13, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      @AJ
      “Is this renegotiation ploy just a scam to buy time until the next election promise.”

      Gasp! – do you really think David Cameron would do such a thing?

  11. uanime5
    Posted June 13, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    I made the point that we want to opt out of these measures, as we wish to have control of our criminal law here in the UK, not find we are powerless thanks to future ECJ decisions.

    Even if the UK opts-in these issues will still mainly be dealt with in UK courts and will only go to the ECJ for the final appeal or when asking for clarification. So the UK won’t be powerless if we opt-in.

    I urged the government not to opt back in, but to make a bilateral agreement with the rest of the EU on matters where we need co-operation across borders.

    Why? If we want to work with the EU on something we may as well adopt EU law.

    I predict that the Government will opt-in to most of these laws, especially the ones that will have little effect on the UK’s laws.

  12. Joh Wrake
    Posted June 13, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Opting out and opting in! what will the Prime Minister say/do? What will the Deputy Prime Minister say/do? What will Labour say/do/? What will Conservative back-benchers say/do?

    I am reminded of Chicken Licken’s reaction to the news that the sky was falling down.

    It is time that we all stopped running about like headless (or brainless) chickens. We are not subject to European criminal legislation, because those of our leaders who signed up to the treaties purporting to impose it were treasonous and the treaties were and are unlawful.

    Unlawful acts are, by definition, not law. The Law in this country is Common Law and is protected by our historic Constitution. Anyone who voluntarily places him/herself under unlawful restrictions of any sort has only him/herself to blame for the difficulty which arises.
    Anyone who seeks to impose law contrary to the constitution should be corrected.

    It is time that those in positions of leadership began to return this country to the Rule of Law.

    John Wrake

  13. Jon
    Posted June 13, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    We loose nothing if we opt out fully and look to take good judgements made as happen anywhere else in the world. Any thing less and I fear Labour and the Lib Dems would drag us back into full governance by them.

    It is un democratic and I also feel a large proportion of the population don’t understand that its judgements are made without the elected legislator framework we have built up here. It is fundamentally core to democracy that the legislators answer to the people at the ballot box. The European courts that over rule our elected legislators are not answerable to us.

    • uanime5
      Posted June 14, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      The EU’s legislator (the European Parliament) does answer to the people at the ballot box. All MEPS were democratically elected in 2009 and the next election is in 2014.

      You’ve also ignored that the UK courts also aren’t elected by the people of the UK.

      • Vanessa
        Posted June 14, 2013 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

        The people would not know who was a good and capable QC or judge. There are some institutions which are best left to be appointed.

        But not local government – the regional Assemblies are appointed by Brussels and are our future local government. We should be very afraid.

  14. Vanessa
    Posted June 14, 2013 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    I learn from” EUReferendum” that our PM is more pro-EU than most of us believe. This is directly taken from this blo – is this true?

    “If there was ever a scintilla of doubt that the Prime Minister was dedicated to the EU cause, then surely it must be dispelled with this news – that he is, voluntarily, to sign up to nearly a third of a series of European policing and criminal justice measures, from which the UK could otherwise have withdrawn.

    The measures to which Mr Cameron is prepared to opt-in include the controversial European arrest warrant and measures to share information with countries in the Schengen zone.”

    Why would anyone believe him when he talks about a referendum?

    Reply When I proposed in the Commomns the other day that we should opt back in to none of the Criminal Justice measures to avoid these areas falling under ECJ jurisdiction Mrs May told me the government had not made up its mind and the ECJ issue was an improtant one they needed to consider. Your source is therefore premature in saying Mr Cameron wants to opt back in to one third of these measures. Incidentally it appears that Labour would not opt out of them all in the first place, as Labour refuses to say it would opt out of them all as we are entitled to do.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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