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JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS:
THE NEW BATTLE OF BRITAIN
Despite earlier assurances to the contrary, New Labour is now prepared to surrender control of justice and home affairs by the EU. This is on the agenda of an under-publicised 'Justice Ministers' meeting' on 22 September - because British and other EU ministers requested the European Commission to draw up proposals in June. The intention is to conclude a formal deal by the end of the year.
It potentially means that the EU will determine our criminal justice system, policing, security, border controls and 'sensitive' hot topics like compulsion towards ID cards.
Don't forget that, in spite of these being essentially domestic concerns, where the EU controls a policy area, foreign policy positions ('external action') must also fall into line. And under the draconian EU legal order, nation states are banned from doing anything that conflicts with 'EU obligations'.
No matter who succeeds Tony Blair as PM, holding about 8-9% of 'influence' within the EU voting system means that they may simply be unable to respond to public opinion. In reality, the government of the day will be both unaccountable and unsackable - either the EU Council of Ministers or the European Court of Justice, whose rulings have been biased towards concentrating power at EU level. Even where an 'opt-out' is perceived, it may make an innovative judgement, as it did in September 2005 over imposing penalties.
The Rome-based criminologist-cum-jurist, Torquil Dick-Erikson observed:
"This issue is dead important, because once the EU gets its hands on Justice and Home Affairs, it acquires the power to put people in prison, i.e. it at last becomes a STATE. It won't really need a constitution at that point any more."
THE STEALTHY EU POWER GRAB
Daniel Hannan MEP raised the alarm in a Daily Telegraph article, (29.8.06). He pointed out why EU control was unjustified - as the UK had been long been co-operating with other countries over issues such as international crime and terrorism. (Think of intelligence sharing, Interpol, etc).
He raised some real points of concern - that our justice system would be decided by a corrupt EU regime that cannot produce honest accounts. What's more, the power grab has been planned in stages and pre-dates the convenient excuse supplied by '9/11'.
The think-tank, Open Europe, has produced comprehensive research on the issue, including fairly recent statements by Ministers on why EU control was unnecessary.
DEFENDING OUR RIGHTS
Many years ago, in the September skies, brave pilots sacrificed their lives so that future generations could live in a free country. While New Labour has given a blanket pardon to those convicted of cowardice in World War 1 (under any circumstances, not just where there were reasonable doubts), it is preparing to insult the memory of heroes.
It upholds the 'rights' of armed hijackers, but threatens to discard the majority's historic rights to a fair trial (eg Trial By Jury, Habeas Corpus - see next article).
Ironically, today's Battle of Britain might be won by one of the countries we helped to liberate in WW2 (e.g. Poland) if they refuse to give way.
Otherwise, the surrender will go before Parliament for approval - a New Labour-dominated body that has so far reneged on its promised referendum on the EU Constitution. Will it be Tony Blair's destiny to be remembered by the phrase 'New Labour, No Britain'?
On being elected as PM, Blair twittered how the government were the servants, and the people were the masters "and we must never forget it". The same people, whom the government refuses to trust, must hold him to that promise.
The Freedom Association's Mark Wallace blogspot on 'Conservative Home'
Former MP, Christopher Gill writes (PDF)
Simon Heffer, 20.9.06
'Euro gendarmerie' website
EU 'Corpus Juris' proposals
POST-SCRIPT: TAMPERING WITH NATIONAL CONTROLS?
What are we to make of the Tampere meetings to 22 Sept? The UK government websites have been rather quiet, with 'No. 10' claiming "discussions are at an early stage, not at the point of decisions."
Not quite the impression from the Finnish Presidency website, where some decisions practically seem to have been made (e.g. harmonisation of Civil Law) even if the cracks over any disagreements have been papered over, at least for now.
One report notes: "the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council and the European Council to be held in December will strive to set a target date for the abolition of internal border controls...".
The immediate context seems to be the existing Schengen area plus the EU newcomers, but don't forget the Treaty of Nice 'UK Protocol' is trumped by measures on the free movement of 'EU Citizens' (Art. 14). Once you factor in the EU's desired 'common approach to legal migration' (i.e. people from outside the EEA), the UK would only have what border controls the EU permitted?
A warning is given: "The way one Member State implements common rules in the area of free movement affects the rest of the Union.". It is clear that the EU is looking at a wider area than Schengen.
Put JHA under the 'first pillar' without a UK veto, and you could find that the European Court does not see any 'opt-out' to use?.
'WAR ON TERROR' - THE LATEST EXCUSE
FOR EUROPEAN INTEGRATION..
The Daily Telegraph reported (17.8.06) that Home Secretary John Reid was calling for 'European co-operation': "It's very important that the measures that are taken in one country are reflected in other countries because we want equal security for all our countries. We must not have a position where terrorists feel if it is difficult to get through security checks in London, they might be able to go to Paris or Frankfurt or Berlin".
At his meeting in London, EU home affairs ministers agreed that airport checks had to be harmonised across Europe. Participants included Nicholas Sarkozy (France) and Wolfgang Schauble (Germany).
Interestingly, Reid contrasted what he called the 'common EU values' of "human rights, democratic freedoms and justice for all" with an "intolerant, violent totalitarianism that seeks to destroy those values...".
Maybe he should ask Sarkozy why he supported the EU Constitution that sought to centralise more power away from the electorate, and why he seeks to introduce parts of the rejected Constitution without consulting his people?
Maybe he should ask Schauble why, in 1994, he wrote a pamphlet "Reflections on European politics" with Karl Lamers calling national sovereignty 'an empty shell' and threatening that Germany might deal with countries outside the EU structure 'by the traditional method' - which was not defined, but was universally taken to mean military action.
Even more to the point, national policies and conditions vary, so a common level of security may not always (or ever?) be appropriate to all.
REMOVING DEMOCRATIC FREEDOMS
Reid warns that the British public will have to forego many of the freedoms and liberties they have grown used to in order to ensure 'the maximum level of security'; presumably, the latter will be decided at EU level.
However, airport checks will be useless against EU criminals and those of a dodgy background who are already in the UK, as the Citizenship Directive would make it difficult to deport them.
The move also comes at a time when the EU is seeking to harmonise criminal justice and home affairs (which was one of the aims of the rejected Constitution - supported by New Labour). That could mean doing away with traditional safeguards such as Trial By Jury and Habeas Corpus, which are not typical features on the continent.
A key feature of the English legal system (before New Labour) has been 'due process' - that individuals have the right not to be fined without conviction in a court of law, and the assumption of innocence without proof of guilt.
Home Office proposals 'Rebalancing the Criminal Justice System...' issued just before the Parliamentary recess sought to take more and more offences away from the court process (the example was routine fines for not having a TV licence).
This was followed by calls to let police officers (and civil servants) dispense 'instant justice', which obtained some knee-jerk sympathy from a public fed up with the government's failures over law and order.
Another a proposal is for for automatic deduction of fines from a personal account (and not just in the present case of chasing non-payment. This would become a real possibility once the desired 'National Identity Register' - a comprehensive data-bank of personal details - was operational).
This whole direction is also worrying as the authorities don't always get it right. The example of the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes comes to mind, as do several legal clangers such as the administration of speed limits and parking regimes.
It also brings to mind the Cabinet Office Press Release of 18.10.99, that the government was putting 'a European dimension' into policy-making at all levels of government.
Whatever the links with EU policy that an audit would reveal, the government hardly measures up to its slogan of "democratic freedoms and justice for all". It has also been under fire over the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill which set out to let government ministers rule by diktat without consulting elected MPs; Ironically, one of the 'benefits' claimed has been the faster implementation of European legislation!
Who will protect us from creeping totalitarianism at government and EU level?
HOW FIRM WILL JOHN REID STAND? µ µ µ µ µ
IMPLEMENTING EURO LAW...
David Rennie's blog of 6.10.06 perceives that Home Secretary John Reid might just want to keep the UK veto. However, his track record on 'Europe' is far from impressive:
Maybe the furore in the press has made Reid wary of public opinion? You judge a tree by the fruit it bears... time will tell.
The Daily Telegraph (10.9.06),reports that New Labour plans to fine cyclists riding without a bell through on-the-spot fines, with maximum penalties of up to £2,500 or two years in jail.
A look at the local papers will see that this is well out of proportion to violent and other anti-social crimes - even 'assaulting a police officer' was only rated at 'six months' when we checked in 2000.
Maybe a clue is in closing a loophole when harmonised EU cycle standards are enforced this autumn.... perhaps the real 'crime' is seen as disobeying EU rules?
World record-holding cyclist, Graeme Obree pointed out the impracticality - vandals often remove bells - and commented: "If a cyclist is about to hit a pedestrian, they're not going to hit a bell - they are going to shout."
µA check on Reid's voting record has shown him to be a slavish line-toer of party policy.
µDon't forget that Blair long ago decided "We reject permanent opt-outs".
µAlthough Reid has admitted reservations on the EU Constitution, as Defence Minister, he urged EU member states to "transform" their forces to provide a "heavy, military deployment" in the interest of "EU credibility".
µHe has already favoured harmonisation of security measures across Europe.
µA month after Reid took over as Home Secretary, the Government indicated readiness to give way. It is difficult to believe that Reid was totally detatched from a major decision concerning his department.
IMPLEMENTING EURO LAW...