Thursday, 26 January 2012

The EU's 'law-grab'

The Daily Mail advises us that the EU now wants power to set 'Euro-crimes' punishments in our courts, continuing that eurocrats were last night accused of making a ‘massive power grab’ which would allow Brussels to dictate laws to Britain and decide punishments in our courts. This is presented as 'news', following the debate in Parliament yesterday, although the EU Commission document to which the Mail refers - and about which the debate was held - is actually dated 23rd September last year. The delay twixt the publication of the document and the parliamentary debate is no doubt due, as Keith Vaz complained, to the fact that MPs are too busy that they simply do not have the time to cover European issues, and therefore rely heavily on the European Scrutiny Committee to alert them if anything is going wrong. This begs the question of what, exactly, our MPs could do - were they so inclined - on any matter EU whilst they continue to acquiesce to Brussels, but again I digress. Thought: Perhaps if MPs spent less time worrying about how chips are arranged on their plates, the cost of their food and drink; oh - and gave up their directorships and 'advisorships' they may have a tad more time for their primary occupation?

A number of important points were made: Kate Hoey was correct when she pointed out that the most iniquitous thing about all this continuing opting in and moving into an ever-closer European Union for this country is the fact that the British people have never given their permission for that to happen, a point Crispin Blunt, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, underlined in his summation to the debate when he stated that the Government will continue to examine the content of European Union criminal law proposals and our participation in them on a case-by-case basis - no mention of the people, it will be noted. Bill Cash was also correct when he made the point about 'tendency', whereby in almost every area, the original proposals—from Maastricht, through to Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon—have adopted a minimalist approach at the beginning, but then expanded, moving further and deeper into the areas of competence that have been acquired. Cash was also correct in his assertion that all that was being discussed is liable to be decided under Qualified Majority voting (QMV) where Articles 82-86 are concerned.

Reverting to the point about government deciding matters with no reference to the people, on this subject I was struck by that which Geoffrey Cox said. "It is to this House that citizens of this country entrust the moral judgments that underlie decisions about what should be criminalised and what should not". I note that we are now 'citizens' - thus distancing us from the political class - rather than 'people' and Cox should realise that the people have no option but to entrust the moral judgment on matters because the people are never asked for their opinion; they are only ever told what their opinion should be. That is a rather neat example of 'democratised dictatorship', something which is replicated in virtually every 'Act' that is passed by Parliament.

Crispin Blunt also made much of the 'emergency brake' whereby Member States can pull that so-called "lever" if they consider that proposed legislation touches upon fundamental aspects of their national criminal justice system: from Europa we learn that to balance the introduction of QMV in the area of judicial cooperation in criminal matters, the Lisbon Treaty introduced a procedure called the “emergency brake” to protect the interests of Member States. It allows Member States to bloc the adoption of a legislative proposal and to send it to the European Council, if they feel that the proposal has an impact on fundamental aspects of their criminal law system. In such a case, co-decision procedure is suspended. After discussion, and if there is a consensus, the European Council, within 4 months of the date procedures were suspended, then sends back the proposal to the Council, which then ends the suspension of the normal legislative procedure or co-decision. If there is no consensus, within the same timeframe, a minimum of 9 Member States can proceed with enhanced cooperation on the basis of the original proposal. Reverting to the point Cash made about the EU's method of operating whereby a minimalist approach occurs at the beginning, but then expands, moving further and deeper into the areas of competence that have been acquired, what price that in say 10 years time Protocol 21 (which covers the UK's ability to opt in/out on freedom, security and judicial matters) is changed/annulled/overriden - which, in a manner of speaking, would rather 'Blunt' Crispin's emergency brake.

To finish on a lighter note, on reading Vaz's short mention of his school days with Andy Slaughter and the fact that he (Vaz) used to try to avoid being in class with him because their names were adjacent on the register, and when they were read out in quick succession—"Slaughter", "Vaz" caused comment, my immediate thought was: 'if only'.


john in cheshire said...

I think that a look at the Jonathan Meades series (3 parts, two of which have been broadcast on bbc4) on France might give some insight into why we are different from the Europeans. Their (the Europeans) views and attitudes are, just like islam vs. Christianity, diametrically opposed to ours. There can never be a meeting of the minds because there is no common ground.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

jic: Which is just the same when comparing the view of the UK with Germany and just about most European countries (Holland and maybe one or two more) which begs the question why we belong the club in the first place!