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Government should seek further EU opt-ins: Lords

4 November 2013

The UK Government should seek to rejoin a further set of EU crime and policing measures if it goes ahead with its intention to opt out from 130 measures next year, according to the House of Lords EU Committee.

The committee, which previously reported that the case for opting out had not been made, has now today published a follow-up report in which it concludes that in addition to the 35 measures already identified, the Government 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.

Speaking for the committee, Lord Hannay said: “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 added: “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 watertight 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.

Click here to access the report.

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