Monday 26 July 2010

Red Lines

The Daily Mail reports that the Tory-led coalition Government are set to allow foreign police forces jurisdiction on British soil;

Ministers are ready to hand sweeping Big Brother powers to EU states so they can spy on British citizens.

Foreign police will be able to travel to the UK and take part in the arrest of Britons.

They will be able to place them under surveillance, bug telephone conversations, monitor bank accounts and demand fingerprints, DNA or blood samples.

Anyone who refuses to comply with a formal request for co-operation by a foreign-based force is likely to be arrested by UK officers.

These new powers would come under the European Investigation Order (EIO), which is intended to compliment the controversial European Arrest Warrant (EAW) and the European Evidence Warrant (EEW) to be implemented by 2011.

The EIO Directive has been proposed on the basis of Article 82(2)(a) of the Lisbon Treaty. This means that the proposal is subject to qualified majority voting so no member state has a veto.

The UK, however has an opt in as part of its infamous red lines negotiated by the previous administration, so it could decide not to take part in the process at all, and let the other member states continue on their own. But no, as the Mail reports, the coalition cannot wait to sign up quick enough:
But ministers have made a dramatic U-turn since joining the pro-EU Lib Dems in government, and the wide-ranging powers are due to be approved later this week.

Whitehall insiders say ministers have been persuaded it has many benefits. In particular, police say they will gain from the fact that the arrangements will be reciprocal, making it easier for them to track suspects overseas.
Ministers have been persuaded? I bet they have, by the Foreign Office whose loyalty is to the bureaucrats in Brussels not to us.

Even worse, not only will the EIO allow any EU police force to start investigations on UK soil, but no judicial authority is needed to verify whether there are reasonable grounds for an offence to have been committed. Even in this country the police can’t investigate on a whim, they need to have reasonable grounds.

But even if Cameron promises (and we know what these are like) that the EIO should be subjected to judicial scrutiny, if we decide to opt in it would be very difficult to amend the draft proposals anyway. There is no guarantee that the EIO would not pass in its current and highly dangerous format. And once the UK has decided to opt-in there is no right to opt-out even if the outcome of the negotiations is not acceptable.

Once again the Tories are shown to be complete Europhiles, as Richard North points out:
But now we have the Tories back again, we can look forward to another leap forward in European integration, just as we do every time we have a Tory government.
Amusingly, and not surprisingly, just before the election, the Labour was accused of wanting to sign up to the same proposal:
Minutes of a parliamentary committee show Labour is quietly backing the idea. Home office minister Meg Hillier said: 'We would in principle support a new and comprehensive instrument based on mutual recognition that covers all types of evidence'.
And the Tory response? Tory justice spokesman Dominic Grieve said at the time:
'In supporting this proposal, Labour is yet again showing its relish for surveillance and disdain for civil liberties'.
The voters outside looked from Labour to Tory, and from Tory to Labour, and from Labour to Tory again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

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