View Full Version : Europe wins the power to jail British citizens

14th Sep 2005, 07:03
The Times:

BRUSSELS has been given the power to compel British courts to fine or imprison people for breaking EU laws, even if the Government and Parliament are opposed.

An unprecedented ruling yesterday by the supreme court in Europe gives Brussels the power to introduce harmonised criminal law across the EU, creating for the first time a body of European criminal law that all member states must adopt. The judgment by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg was bitterly fought by 11 EU governments, including Britain, and marks a dramatic transfer of power from national capitals to Brussels.

Diplomats said that it was political dynamite in many countries, but the European Commission welcomed the ruling, on a test case about environmental law, as a landmark that sets an important precedent. It gives the Commission the right to decide when breaches of agreed policies are so serious that they should be treated as criminal. The Commission said that it would use its new powers only in extreme circumstances, but its officials are already talking about introducing EU crimes for overfishing, deliberate polluting, money laundering and price fixing.....

Member states have fiercely guarded their sovereignty over criminal law. The Commission took them to court after they blocked it from introducing harmonised criminal law for pollution. The Court of Justice, which has a record of promoting European integration, ruled in the Commission’s favour, concluding: “The European Community has the power to require the member states to lay down criminal penalties for the purposes of protecting the environment.” The Court said that although as a general rule criminal law does not fall within EU powers, that “does not prevent the Community legislature . . . from taking measures that relate to the criminal law of member states which it considers necessary”.

The ruling means that the Commission can propose an EU crime that, if passed by the European Parliament and a qualified majority of member states, must be adopted by all member states. This means that Britain could be forced to introduce a crime into its law if enough other members support it. It also gives the Commission the power to compel members to enforce EU criminal law if governments drag their heels or if their courts refuse to sentence people......

Times Editorial

The European Court has gravely undermined the sovereignty of EU states

For the first time in its 53-year existence, the European Court of Justice has given the Commission in Brussels the power to impose criminal sanctions. In a landmark ruling that is as ominous as it is deluded, the Luxembourg-based court yesterday overruled the governments of EU member states, removing from them the sole right to impose their own penalties on people or companies breaking the law, and giving the unelected EU Commission an unprecedented role in the administration of criminal justice.

The pretext for this transparent attempt at empire-building beyond the boundaries laid down for Europe’s bureaucrats was the claim by Brussels that it had the right to insert criminal penalties into laws to protect the environment. The Commission said that unless it did so, its attempt to halt cross-border pollution would be ineffective. But in 2001, 11 of the 15 members, including Britain, insisting that only a national government had the right to fine or jail its citizens, vigorously opposed this action. Instead they proposed a “framework decision”, excluding the Commission and including only governments, to deal with transgressors. The Commission called in the lawyers and, extraordinarily, the European Court agreed that it had the right to impose criminal sanctions.

This is a dangerous step in the wrong direction. The Commission, chafing at criticism that it is too powerful and too interfering, has been itching to reassert its authority. It is not a sovereign power but a civil service executive, supposedly appointed to serve EU common interests. In recent years the Commission has worried that its right to initiate legislation, under the Treaty of Rome, was being eroded. EU ministers, when discussing urgent issues such as terrorism, sometimes came up with their own proposals for new laws. But to retaliate by trespassing on the sole right of governments to imprison their citizens is a serious expansion of and misunderstanding of the Commission’s role.

The ruling also reveals the mindset of the court, and confirms the lingering suspicion that, when faced with a choice between subsidiarity or strengthening the EU’s federal powers it will, invariably, choose the latter. The decision highlights the contradiction at the court’s very heart — of course a federal court will expand federal powers. It gives substance to all the worries in Britain and those countries that have voted against the EU constitution that any point vague enough to require legal clarification would always prompt a ruling reinforcing the EU’s central bureaucracy and federal power. This lamentable judgment strikes at the heart of national sovereignty and Britain’s ability to decide the law for itself.

The Commission is entitled to argue that draft laws should be effective. But it is up to elected national governments to define and enforce the law. Already, elated Commission officials are proposing similar criminal penalties in other areas. It is not their right. Democracy yesterday suffered a grievous defeat in a court whose contempt for sovereignty verges on the criminal.

tony draper
14th Sep 2005, 07:27
Don't those feckers in Brussels realise we have Nukes?
:suspect: :E

14th Sep 2005, 07:31
How's a fellow supposed to deliver them....UPS or FEDEX?

Drapes...your American Cousins fought a war against "Oppressive Government" back when the French were our friends and the Crown employed German mercenaries. Is that where you lot are headed today?

14th Sep 2005, 07:45
Enough is enough! I work with Brits, Italians, French, Dutch, Belgians and Germans. None of them want to see this spiderweb like spread of EU power. All of the individual countries have worked out a set of laws, taxes etc over centuries which suits their way of working and their poulations. Most agree that having trade rules that encompass the whole EU are generally a good thing (if they are adhered to). Very few agree to a centralised governing body which has precedence over the nation state and this is more and more obviously the way the Brussels / Strasbourg grey suits are going. It's about time the elected representatives of the various nations in the EU actually listened to their populations and reined in the power of Brussels before it gets completely out of hand.

14th Sep 2005, 23:25
The only people who actually want this are the Socialists, specifically in the case of the UK Bliar and his lot.

The people truly have the Government they deserve.

About maybe a year ago (maybe longer ?) there was a long debate on Europe with the many Europhiles poo pooing such suggestions as have now been shown to be fact.

Where are these same people now one wonders?

Or am I deafened by the silence ?

15th Sep 2005, 00:58
They can make anything they wish into a crime but I shall demand trial by combat. Its been our right ever since William the Bastard interfered in our affairs and as long as we have a Sovereign Queen, the feudal system remains firmly in place.

Target rifles at 600 yards and may justice be done...

I never thought I would be in favour of Royalty but we must draw the line somewhere - better a Queen than to be ruled by sprouts! The appalling thing about the EU is that the unelected EC can make law. As a free Englishman I refuse to accept that an unelected body can make statute law. Administrative law such as that which governs aircraft operations is one thing, criminal law is quite another matter. It is now time for the Council of Ministers to abolish the EC and set up a proper civil service that is accountable to the parliament. At the moment the tail's wagging the dog.

15th Sep 2005, 02:09
So, can anyone state what they would be allowed to do under "British" law yet would be restricted from doing so under "European" law?

Tick tock chaps, tick tock.

West Coast
15th Sep 2005, 02:24
Now some may understand why the US is hesitant to kowtow to the international courts. I can understand the feelings of many expressing displeasure. The EU has a place I believe (despite what Drapes may say) more as a loose confederation than dictating policy to sovergn nations. Is anyone really surprised about all the no votes? This ain't gonna help sell the bill of goods being offered.

Bahrain lad
Make fun of the French.

15th Sep 2005, 04:48

Allow elected representattives in a democratic chamber to repeal laws in accordance with their manifesto.

15th Sep 2005, 08:24

Steady on old fellow....Law makers "repeal" laws.....heavens what has come over you today? Has that ever happened.....without two new laws being enacted to replace it?:uhoh:

15th Sep 2005, 08:39

The only people who actually want this are the Socialists, specifically in the case of the UK Bliar and his lot.

The judgment by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg was bitterly fought by 11 EU governments, including Britain, and marks a dramatic transfer of power from national capitals to Brussels.

Seems there's a contradiction somewhere!