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Amendment No. 58 is about the role of Eurojust and its ability to initiate criminal investigations. As noble Lords saidand I think the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, referred to thisthe Lisbon treaty creates a new legal base for Eurojust, building on that which is already in Article 31. It provides an extension of the mandate by envisaging that it could be provided with the power to initiate criminal investigations where at the moment it can only request such action from a member state. Paragraph 2 is clearand this is important for our discussionsthat such formal acts of judicial procedure shall none the less be carried out only by competent national officials.
Although the legal base for Eurojust provides for the possibility for extending the remit, it is clear that the UK could not be bound by such a proposal unless we specifically opted in. It would require a new legislative proposal and our extended opt-in would apply to this provision as to the rest of the chapter. So we would have the right to choose whether we participated in any measures to amend or replace the Eurojust council decision and would do so only if it was in our national interests. I should make it clear, in the spirit of being extremely positive about what works well in Europe, that working with Eurojust has been beneficial to the UK. Since 2002, it has given considerable assistance to the UK and has been central to combating drug and human trafficking, serious fraud, money-laundering and child pornography in Europe. I hope that the noble Lord will feel that I have answered his question well.
Amendment No. 59 is the next amendment in this sequence of amendments and concerns the provisions on the creation of a European Public Prosecutor. Article 86 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union includes provisions for the creation of a public prosecutor who would investigate, prosecute and bring to judgment the perpetrators of and accomplices in offences against the financial interests of the Union. We have a double lock on any move to create a public prosecutor. In lock 1, the opt-in applies and we choose whether to participate. As the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, said, it is very unlikely that we would wish to opt into a proposal to create a public prosecutor. In lock 2, unanimity is retained for any decision to establish such a prosecutor and for any decision to extend the prosecutors powers. In the unlikely event that we opted into a proposal to establish one, we would have a veto over any decision to extend those powers. In no circumstances can we be obliged to participate in the creation of such a public prosecutor but, as noble Lords have said, if nine of the member states wish to proceed under enhanced co-operation, they are free to do so. That does not affect the UK unless we decide to participate.
Amendment No. 59A relates to the provisions on the collection, storage, processing, analysis and exchange of relevant information in relation to the prevention, detection and investigation of criminal offences. The new article sets out the legal base for police co-operation measures. Such measures, as the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, said, are subject to QMV and codecision. This includes the provision for the collection, storage, analysis and exchange of relevant information. We believe that the exchange of information throughout the European Union is vital; it enables us to work together to tackle common threats such as terrorism and organised crime so that we can pursue and prosecute criminals more effectively. This co-operation has given us access to crucial data-sharing arrangements, such as introducing a mechanism that allows the police to access fingerprints, DNA and vehicle registration information held by other member states. Noble Lords will probably be aware that there was a pilot project with the German police, who accessed data from Austrian police and are now investigating new leads
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Again, these are very important issues. Europol was created under the Maastricht treaty and formally set up by an EU convention in 1998. That convention is due to be replaced this year with a Council decision.
It is in our interests to co-operate with Europol. Noble Lords will know only too well of the potential, and indeed the reality, of the work that Europol has done to break up violent and armed gangs of eastern European robbers who had already committed more than 20 attacks in the UK, to break up child pornography networks and to support the Midlands police force in breaking up a people-trafficking ring that involved Chinese and Iraqi people. Europol is very important. Perhaps its most important investigation involved the Cambridgeshire letter bomber. It gave direct support to the Cambridgeshire police, which led to the apprehension of an individual who was convicted of sending explosive devices through the post. When he was arrested, he was found to be in possession of a number of explosive devices that were ready to be posted. There are direct benefits to the UK in collaborating with Europol.
The noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, said a little about Amendment No. 94. We will come to this amendment much later on, so I do not want to go into too much detail, although I will say that it is about financial penalty. The UK cannot be fined for deciding that it does not wish to opt in or opt out of something. We will discuss that in greater detail. When we come to look at the provision, it will be important to see that this is not about a financial penalty, but about a recognition that, if as a consequence of the UKs action it becomes inoperable, then it is only reasonable that it may be required to contribute financially to make sure that the consequences of that inoperability are dealt with. I have dealt with that as much as I can. I shall write to the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, on xenophobia, rather than go back into that right now. I hope the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, will feel able to withdraw his amendment.
Lord Kingsland: I should like to thank my noble friend Lord Blackwell, the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, and, of course, the noble Baroness, for their substantial contributions to this important debate. I am not convincedeven after listening to the noble Baronessthat the changes in this treaty are necessary.
The objects that the noble Baroness has said that those changes are intended to achieve can be equally well achieved by a combination of the arrest warrant and intergovernmental co-operation. I have heard
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The noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, admitted that these changes were important but, rightly, went on to say that the United Kingdom need not be affected by them because it has the opt-out provision. There are, as I tried to indicate in my opening remarks, frailties in the opt-out provisions. However, generally speaking, I accept what he said; but that is not the point of our amendments. They were about what those measures are doing to the European Union itself. In our submission, these measures are changing the character of the European Union in a way that will prove extremely undesirable.
It is often said that the threat we are faced with is that the European Union will become some form of executive Government. Some describe it as a state. Originally, under the treaty of Rome, that conclusion would have been difficult to draw from the initial measures. One could say, perhaps, that the Community was federal in that it had a court that could override the decisions of national courts; but one could not say that it had a Government in the sense that national states have.
However, these measures are an undesirable step towards executive centralisation that will prove extremely damaging to the European Union. They will not only affect, adversely, the attitude of citizens to it, but will also undermine all those good things that it has done. I will give you an example. One of the most ingenuous instruments the Community has developed over the years is the directive. It has been fundamental to the success of establishing a single marketits ingenuity lying in the fact that all the implementation is within the power and the legal systems of the member states.
For example, as I indicated in my opening remarks, under Article 83.2 the Union will take on the power with respect to any harmonisation measures to introduce its own criminal law system and to implement it from the centre. This is the destruction of the concept of the directive. It will make member states, in future, extremely reluctant to enter into fresh areas of harmonisation knowing that the directive will be undermined by the Unions ability to impose rules from the centre. These measures will have a damaging effect on the European Union that goes far wider than what they say in themselves.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: I have been following the noble Lords argument with interest, but where does he draw the line? Are the Conservatives saying that they now accept the European arrest warrantthey certainly resisted it some time agothe existence of Eurojust and the existence of Europol, or are those over the line and should we now draw back? It is important to know just how far we are going. I have
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Lord Thomas of Gresford: Before the noble Lord answers that question, perhaps I may ask him about the criminal justice system that he is suggesting will be imposed on this country. What criminal justice system? What is the mechanism by which this imposition is to take place?
Lord Kingsland: I find that an uncharacteristically astonishing observation from the noble Lord, Lord Thomas. I have tried to make it clear in my winding-up speech that my concern was not primarily our opt-out but what these measures would do to the character of the European Union in general. We want the European Union to be a success. These measures will contribute substantially to the European Union not being a success. That is what lay behind my observations.
Lord Kingsland: The mechanisms are set out in Article 83. They are there for the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, to read in relation to evidence, the rights of victims and the individual liberties of the citizen. All these aspects will now be legislated on by the European Union under the first pillar system. That will dramatically change the justice system in the European Union member states. That is absolutely plain from the text of the treaty.
I am now trying to remember the questions put to me by the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire. As far as Europol is concerned, the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, said that he had reservations about the EPP. I cannot remember exactly whether he extended those reservations to Eurojust, but he certainly said that he had reservations about the EPP.
Lord Kingsland: It is common knowledge that we have hesitations about both organisations. If they were established by voluntary agreement or intergovernmental agreement, it would be a different matter. But we certainly have deep antipathy to the proposals that are made about them in the Lisbon treaty.
As far as the arrest warrant is concerned, we opposed many aspects of it, principally because it was not possible, under the provisions, for individuals to use the defence of the European Convention on Human Rights. We continue to have those hesitations.
Lord Kingsland: That is most interesting to hear from the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart. My understanding is that it is not possible under the European arrest warrant, once all the formal stipulations are complied with under the provisions that set it up, to raise convention rights. That is my understanding.
The issue for us is that these measures will change the character of the European Union in an undesirable way and make it less likely to be the successful organisation that it was in its earlier years. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: Before moving to resume the House, may I respectfully point out that we have two more days in Committee on this Bill. I therefore urge all noble Members present, and those who may be present on futures days of Committee, that it is best not to enter into extraneous arguments; we should focus on the amendments in question and not repeat arguments already made in Committee. With that, I beg to move that the House do now resume.
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