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Time to Turn the Tide on EU Powers

  • Theresa May is right to take Britain out of the EU’s 133 police and criminal justice measures
  • Opting out and selectively rejoining individual measures is vital to reassert UK parliamentary sovereignty
  • Reclaiming these powers is low risk and high gain – but joining all could be a disaster

Britain must leave EU measures which are at best ineffective and at worst outright dangerous, a report from the independent Westminster think tank Civitas warns today.

Ahead of a much-anticipated announcement by Home Secretary Theresa May, a new paper by Civitas research fellow Jonathan Lindsell sets out the case for the government to opt out of the police and criminal justice (PCJ) measures en masse before rejoining those in Britain’s interests.

“Theresa May is right to get Britain out of all 133 police and criminal justice measures. Many of them are inconsequential, potentially damaging and even, in some cases, outright dangerous,” Mr Lindsell said.

“Opting out will avert a further loss of sovereignty and set a badly-needed precedent for powers to flow back from Brussels to member states.

“To act otherwise would have been to permanently surrender control across large swathes of what should be domestic policy.

“Opponents of the opt-out have exaggerated the risks, which will in any case be easily overcome if ministers move quickly to identify which measures they wish Britain to opt back into and take the necessary steps.”

One of the measures would endanger the British tradition of free speech, and may force the Foreign Office into an untenable position. It would be illegal to deny or trivialise genocide, which would undermine a longstanding policy designed not to offend Turkey by affirming the Armenian Genocide.

Another measure would allow foreign judges to order property confiscations of British citizens, without proper UK judicial scrutiny or adequate means of appeal.

The UK would also be forced to share sensitive DNA and fingerprint information with European governments, who use a faulty database prone to leaks and ‘false positives’. This is especially shocking given current fears over personal information privacy, and could lead to identity theft.

Moreover the UK must consider reforming the notorious European Arrest Warrant (EAW). This “fast track extradition” costs the taxpayer thousands in trivial cases, while consigning British citizens to years of terrified uncertainty in outlandish European jails.

Opting out will check the “creeping competences” of EU oversight and repatriate powers, Mr Lindsell writes. He makes the case for as few EU competences as possible to avoid “judicial activism” and maintain parliament’s sovereignty and the UK legal system’s legitimacy.

Europhiles have inflated the opt-out’s risks and mischaracterised arguments critical of the PCJ measures, he says. In fact, if Theresa May makes clear which measure she would rejoin in good time, there would be no hiatus, no fines, and the operation would be entirely legal.

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