European Movement UK

Britain's future is with Europe! Join the debate and put your opinion forward!

In a move designed to appease nationalistic right-wing Conservative MPs and respond to a perceived electoral threat from UKIP, the Government announced its intention to opt out of 130 EU Justice and Home Affairs measures.
Despite advice from academics, lawyers, the police and the wider British security establishment the Government is putting party politics above the national interest and the country’s ability to deal with cross-border crime and terrorism.
The irony is that Theresa May, by her own admission, will be seeking to re-join many of the measures Britain will be opting out of, in recognition of how important European-level co-operation in the fight against organised crime is.
She has miscalculated two factors though: the diplomatic and administrative complications involved in such a move. Firstly, a renegotiation is not guaranteed to deliver the desired result. Britain has been running out of friends, thanks to Conservative grandstanding in Brussels and at home. It is by no means certain that Britain will be able to simply opt back in, our EU partners might wish to win concessions in return of allowing us the privilege of participating to the measures we consider beneficial; concessions on areas that are important to Britain. It is self-defeating to have to give things up just to regain access to something that it was ours all along. Secondly, there are considerable costs that will need to be incurred as a result of this decision, which are not negligible and will not be covered by our European partners. The Government will have to explain why it is prepared to go through the expense of opting in to something it decided to opt out from.
The biggest cost though comes in the form of the impression given across Europe (and around the world) that the UK is on a path towards isolationism. Even our closest allies are starting to give up on our role within the EU and global investors must be looking closely, deciding on their investment decisions based on whether, and to what extent, the UK will be part of the EU and its single market in the years ahead.
The European Movement has compiled a small collection of reports and articles that explain the mechanics behind the opt-out as well as the dangers such a move is posing, both for Britain’s ability to combat crime but also with regard to its place within the EU.
The European Movement will also be organising on 22 November 2012 an event with JUSTICE and Queen Mary’s Criminal Justice Centre, bringing together politicians, academics, NGOs and representatives of the security services to debate what this opt-out decision means for Britain. Save the date and join us, an invitation will follow shortly.
Petros Fassoulas, European Movement


Think Tanks

Cameron’s European ‘own goal’: Leaving EU police and justice co-operation – Centre for European Reform 

The UK’s Right to Opt Out of EU Crime and Policing Laws in 2014 – Fair Trials International

Opting out of EU Criminal law: What is actually involved? – Centre for European Legal Studies

Press

Planned justice opt-out sets stage for EU battle – Financial Times 

Britain and Europe: posture first, think later – The Guardian

Taxpayer faces multi-million pound bill as Theresa May details plans to opt out of 130 EU measures on law and order – Independent

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