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Monday, January 15, 2007

Slowly but surely...

... the EU is expanding its control over member states' criminal justice systems.

Two good examples from the agenda of today's meeting of EU interior ministers :

1) EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini is proposing to create an EU-wide criminal offence of selling computer games to children. Back in November Frattini publicly criticised a computer game Rule of Rose in which a girl is bullied. Originally he spoke of creating a voluntary code for computer games companies. But now it seems as though he's been emboldened by some favourable publicity in unfamiliar places (such as the Daily Mail) and is being much more ambitious. This is another obvious example of the Commission's current tendency to champion populist causes (price caps on text messages and footballers' salaries etc) - as part of its "Europe of results" agenda.

2) The German Government is keen to reach agreement on a proposal for an EU-wide criminal sanction for racism and xenophobia. In particular the Germans want to impose prison sentences for holocaust denial and ban the use of the swastika across Europe. This proposal is unlikely to be approved as it would require unanimity. Several governments -including the UK - are unsure. The British Government is unlikely to want to have to repeat the rows over the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill which was passed last year. The amendments which were secured by campaigners and the opposition to that Bill could well be overturned if the EU's proposals go through.

We hate to be boring, but what about the idea of subsidiarity? What exactly is the case for these political decisions being made at an EU level? Anyone?

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