Following an inquiry undertaken jointly by two of its Sub-Committees, the House of Lords EU Committee has today published its follow-up report on the UK’s 2014 Opt-out decision regarding 130 EU crime and policing measures.
The Committees have concluded that the Government should seek to rejoin the 35 measures that have already been identified, but that it should also seek to rejoin an additional set of measures:
implementing measures related to Europol’s continued operation;
the Framework Decision on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law
the European Judicial Network;
the European Probation Order; and
the Convention of Driving Disqualifications.
Lord Hannay, Chairman of the Home Affairs, Health and Education EU Sub-Committee, said:
“The Committees are in agreement with the Government and this House that it is in the UK’s national interest to seek to rejoin the 35 measures the Government has identified. However, we consider that the UK should also seek to rejoin a small number of additional measures because of possible substantive and reputational damage that definitively opting out of them could bring.
“For example, having established the UK as being at the forefront of tackling racist and xenophobic hate crimes, by not opting back into the Framework Decision, we risk significantly damaging our standing in this.
“Furthermore, we think that the Government has still not given enough consideration to the negative impact the opt-out decision may have on Anglo-Irish cooperation in policing and criminal justice matters, from which the UK currently benefits and so should act to address any concerns raised by the Irish government or Northern Ireland Executive.”
Baroness Corston, Chairman of the Justice, Institutions and Consumer Protection EU Sub-Committee, said:
“We are disappointed that the Government has still not dealt with our reports’ conclusions about the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and its jurisdiction. What is more, the Government’s general approach to the CJEU is not consistent with its decision to opt back into many other post-Lisbon police and criminal justice measures.
“We are also calling on the Government to work flexibly with the European Commission in order to avoid any gaps in the application of the measures the UK will seek to rejoin. For example, we must ensure that rejoining the European Arrest Warrant is water-tight well in advance of the opt-out taking effect, to prevent problems for our criminal justice system.
“We are asking the Government to provide Parliament with regular reports on the progress of the negotiations to rejoin the identified measures. We also recommend that the Government conduct a review of the impact of the opt-out decision three years after it has taken effect, and report its conclusions to Parliament.”
Negotiations between the Government and the European Commission are expected to begin formally next month, ahead of the opt-out taking effect on 1 December 2014.
The session will be webcast at www.parliamentlive.tv and is also open to the public. Journalists wishing to attend should go to Parliament’s Cromwell Green Entrance and should allow time for security screening.