Phillip Lee MP:Lessen EU control over British justice systemBy Dr Phillip Lee MP
February 08, 2012
This week in the Telegraph, I signed a letter in favour of repatriating powers on crime and policing back from Europe.
The letter was signed by 102 Conservative colleagues in Parliament and called on the Government to lessen EU control over the British justice system.
The letter spoke out against the harmonisation of national crimes and the need for a more practical co-operation in fighting terrorism, drugs, human trafficking and other cross-border crimes.
I strongly believe that the UK Supreme Court should have the last word on UK crime and policing and not the European Court of Justice (EJC).
EU judges should not have the final say over the mechanisms for extraditing British citizens to other member states.
Currently under the European Investigation Order, British police forces are subjected to mandatory demands by European police.
As a result I have deep concerns about the operation of the European Arrest Warrant for the residents of Bracknell constituency.
A recent study by Open Europe sets out how the UK can repatriate 130 EU crime and policing laws in 2014.
The think tank noted that if Britain does not exercise its “opt out” under the EU’s crime and policing plan by 2014 it would mean that we would give the EU more power over or justice system.
As a result, Open Europe recommended to remain outside the EU crime and policing laws which would allow the UK to “opt back in to selected EU laws of particular importance” or “to negotiate a new arrangement whereby the UK could cooperate with other EU member states on crime and policing, but would do so outside the EU legal framework and therefore without the jurisdiction of the ECJ”.
The government has made progress on protecting our sovereignty from the EU by introducing an Act which automatically gives people a referendum on any further powered moving between Westminster and Brussels.
Nevertheless we need to keep our independence from Europe and maintain our national standards of justice and democratic control over crime and policing.
Hence my signing of the letter to the Telegraph to a block opt-out would allow the UK to regain control over these laws in 2014.
We must have an open debate to inject greater democratic accountability into this crucial decision.
However, opting-out sooner rather than later would give the Government a greater chance of securing the best possible deal for the UK for the future.