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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Will a future Conservative government renegotiate ECJ control over criminal justice?

Theresa May MP may have committed a future Conservative
government to renenegotiate ECJ power over crime and policing
Yesterday the House of Commons voted to opt out of c.130 EU crime and policing measures and then seek to opt back into ones the Government judges to be in the national interest (c.35 at present). These 35 will for the first time become subject to the juristiction of the European Court (ECJ). Given the past history of the ECJ's rulings and the difficulty of amending EU law once (mis)interpreted by EU judges this is no small thing.

Many Conservative MPs were rightly concerned and presured the Coalition to first give more time for the Committees to examine these measures and then amend the motion to remove the specific list so as not to prejudge the outcome.

We have argued before that the Conservative part of the Coalition faces a difficult decision and given this, it should hold open the probability that ECJ jurisdiction would form a part of a wider Conservative renegotiation of the UK's EU membership terms. So did the Home Secretary do that?

Theresa May set out her position on ECJ juristiction claiming "we have pursued a policy of seeking co-operation not control” (incidentally the title of an Open Europe paper written by Dom Raab MP on this issue). She then went on to explain that a Conservative Government would revisit ECJ juristiction.
As part of that renegotiation, it would be odd indeed, and colleagues would question it, if the Conservative party, as part of its commitment, said, “We will renegotiate, but not these bits.” We will renegotiate the United Kingdom’s relationship with the European Union.
The issues involving justice and home affairs to which I referred earlier are being considered in the Government’s “balance of competences” review. Undoubtedly the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice will need to be considered when, after the election, a future Conservative Government renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the European Union; but the choice that is before us now is binary. We are a coalition Government with no mandate to seek a renegotiation of our relationship with Europe..
...Before I took a number of interventions, I mentioned the European Court of Justice. I also want to refer to the European Court of Human Rights, which contradicts laws passed by our Parliament, overrules judgments made by our courts, and interprets the articles of the original convention on human rights in an expansionist way. That is totally unacceptable. I therefore believe that we also have to consider very carefully this country’s relationship with Strasbourg as well as our relationship with Brussels.
Justice Minister Chris Grayling MP added later in the debate that:
I am clear about the fact that the Lisbon treaty paves the way for the creation of a European justice system. That system is now taking shape. A raft of new measures is emerging from Brussels, and the recent addition of a new justice scorecard creates a platform that will enable more to follow soon. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr Redwood) and many others were right to say that the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice was a key element... We have decided we do not want to follow a path that leads to a European justice system... 
To my Conservative colleagues, I say simply this: everyone knows my position on matters European—I believe that Britain’s position in the European Union needs, at the very least, to change pretty radically
So we seem to be reaching a clear commitment to renegotiate the ECJ's juristiction over EU crime and policing measures. We have long argued that this is right, necesary and achievable but, like the referendum commitment, will it survive any future coalition talks?


Rik said...

On ECJ jurisdiction.
Imho it is completely unavoidable in trade issues. Otherwise one country can block another one's export with "Japanese snow" measures. Aka complete BS but it cannot be attacked in an independent court. The importer probably has a clear advantage because of that. In other words no central jurisdiction would be an incentive to trade barriers. And with French in the trade block you will be more or less assured that it would happen.
You need one top court. However the ECJ with its 'pro-Europeanisation' views is probably not the best option for a semi-member (what likley the UK will become after a reneg one way or another).

The situation with crime and justice is different. No country has basically problems to help getting seriously bad guys (always guys who do it) and extradict them to another country to face trial.
It has some marginal advantages to have a top court, but also as the UK case shows a lot of disadvantages. And clearly for the UK much more of the latter.

Anyway of of the main political targets of a reneg will be for any UK government: 'simply avoid the fuzz around lifesentences and voting criminals'.
This might not be a top economic priority, but it is clearly one in the eyes of the average voter. The one that started the referendum thingy in the first place.
In that respect any UK government would be well advised to take that into consideration.

It looks to go more easy than expected to hold the IP offensive and even reverse it. However that war is not won yet. Farage looks to suffer from some fatigue and has problems coming up with common sense remarks (as Cameron's EU policies largely is one step ahead of him with that), but he clearly cannot be written off. And Cameron better remember that this was probably Cameron's last chance (as some European examples are an indication for that) to tackle the IP issue. And Dave does that well, until now at least, has to be said. However he still has the credibility issue to carry with him, which means there is little room for mistakes.

Also the issue is necessary to dump things with Mr Ed and his party where they mostly belong anyway. It clearly shows that if Ed and his party is put under stress they have problems. If Cameron would succeed in that(and keep the pressure on) the way to a Conservative majority in next election looks open.
But both with Mr Ed and the EU reneg he should not take his feet from the gaspedal.

Rik said...

Also on this issue it seems worth a try to start with a reneg and go for a Danish style (with raisins and sugar on top) solution first.
You succeed you need hardly a further reneg on this issue.

Anonymous said...

We should stay out of all of the laws and not opt back in to any, this body after all was denying us the right to decide who can reside in our country.

Denis Cooper said...

By far the most probable answer to the headline question is "no".

Firstly it would need a Conservative government, a not very probable outcome for the next general election; secondly it would need that Conservative government to have the will to demand an end to ECJ jurisdiction, also not very probable; and thirdly it would need all the other EU member states to agree, once again not very probable.

Multiply those three low probabilities together and the chance that a future Conservative government would renegotiate ECJ control over criminal justice is very low.

So the obvious answer is: don't take the huge risk of opting back into any of the EU measures and almost certainly then being left with the ECJ making the final decisions.

Rollo said...

No, of course not. Every lying politician in the last 30 years has promised renegotiation and achieved nothing. The Acquis Communautaire is exactly there to prevent renegotiation. There is no forum for renegotiation. There is no chance of a unanimous vote in the Council of ministers to allow renegotiation. Any politician promising to renegotiate is lying.

Anonymous said...

You can not negotiate sovereignty, for, as soon as you start negotiating it, you've lost it.

And the Eurofascists at Open Europe should be ashamed of themselves that they are trying to deceive their audience that any such "negotiation" is either possible or likely.

The simple fact here is that Open Europe -- a Eurofascist bankster lobbying group -- is designed for the sole purpose of moving the UK out of sovereign status and into vassal status.

Everything else is just noise.

Edward Spalton said...

"Renegotiation" requires an Intergovernmental Conference which takes a long time to convene. It then requires that the Conference should be unanimous in its agreements - if anything at all is to be changed.

I am afraid that Mrs. May is deluding herself with the desire to be "In Europe but not run by Europe" - a total impossibility if by "Europe" the EU is meant.

And shouldn't those 35 areas of surrender be subject to that famous "referendum lock"?

As they say in Glasgow "Dream on".

Anonymous said...

No mechanism exists to instigate or execute these "negotiations."

Why doesn't Open Europe, which is supposed to be an authority on the EUSSR, know that?

clinihyp said...

Given that Theresa May is a dedicated and ardent Europhile, I'm inclined to regard her somewhat obscure tactics on this issue with the same credibility, as some of Mr. Cameron's pledges, many of which have been broken!

Perhaps the closest in type was his pledge to not sign up for an EU army IE. "We will never sign up for a European Army" (1)

Regrettably all was not as clear as it seemed.

"David Cameron signs up for more joint military operations with Europe"!

"Britain will be expected to plan national defence with the the rest of the EU after David Cameron agreed to accelerate joint military operations" (2)

I have no doubt Mr. Cameron has or had, perfectly valid reasons for this seeming contradiction, it seems to have slipped his mind to share with parliament what they were!

1 Rowena Mason, Daily Telegraph.17.12 2012

2.Tim Ross and Bruno Waterfield. Daily Telegraph. 16.12. 2012