My hon Friend the Minister of State for Security (Ben Wallace) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement:
The Government has decided that the UK will opt in to the Regulation on the Mutual Recognition of Freezing and Confiscation Orders.
The proposed Regulation would replace and build upon the existing mutual recognition framework which is currently in two existing instruments – the Council Framework Decision on the execution in the European Union of orders of freezing property of evidence (2003/577/JHA) and the Council Framework Decision (2006/783/JHA) on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to confiscation orders. These Framework Decisions were transposed into UK law in 2014.
Through our Serious Organised Crime Strategy and Action Plan for anti-money laundering and counter terrorist finance, we have made it clear that being able to recover criminal monies is a priority. The proposed Regulation will bring benefits to the UK through strengthening the ability of our operational agencies to have our orders recognised and executed, particularly in countries which have traditionally been slower to assist in cross border asset recovery cases.
The UK’s experience of the existing Framework Decisions has been positive, although numbers of mutual recognition requests are limited due to the short time (since 2014) that the Decisions have been fully transposed in UK law. Asset recovery in some EU states has traditionally been difficult through mutual legal assistance routes, which are lengthy and cumbersome.
Opting into this measure is also consistent with the UK’s approach to participating in EU mutual recognition measures to improve practical cooperation between Member States. Opting in at this point shows our continued positive engagement with this measure, and demonstrates our commitment to work together with our European partners to fight crime and prevent terrorism now and after we leave the European Union.
This statement has also been made in the House of Commons: