Den britiske regjering varsler at den vil benytte seg av retten til å fratre flere av de overnasjonale rettighetene som er overdratt EU, blant annet felles etterlysning og utleveringsavtale. En felles riksadvokat for hele EU er heller ikke noe Storbritannia har sans for.
Storbritannia foretok et veivalg da det sa nei til euroen, og senere the fiscal compact. Nå vil man benytte av seg en opt out-klausul som Lisboa-traktaten inneholder, som gjør det mulig å ta tilbake rettigheter man har gitt fra seg.
Det gjelder i første rekke på justissektoren.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is preparing to tell MPs that the Government will exercise its opt-out from a large “block” of EU powers covering crime, justice and policing – including the controversial European arrest warrant.
The move, which could come as early as Monday, the first day of the new parliamentary session and just days before an EU summit this week, is likely to cheer Conservative Eurosceptics who have demanded a clear restatement of Britain’s sovereignty.
However, it could also open up a new rift with the Liberal Democrats, according to senior Conservative sources, who admit that some of the measures on the table are “highly sensitive” politically.
The disclosure of Mrs May’s statement comes as a Sunday Telegraph investigation reveals that the number of people who are extradited to European countries after being brought to court in Britain has risen almost fourfold in three years.
In 2010 some 1,335 people were sent for trial in other EU member states after being held on the European arrest warrant – placing a big burden on Britain’s overstretched justice system and running up a bill conservatively estimated at £27miillion. In 2008 there were 351 such cases.
I Storbritannia reagerer man med irritasjon på EUs overreguleringsiver og byråkrati. Som når en polakk blir etterlyst for å ha stjålet en trillebår til 300 kroner. Prosessen med å arresterte ham i Storbritannia, etterforske og utlevere ham koster flere hundre tusen kroner. Britene lurer på hvor dette ender. Det er heller ikke begeistret over å skulle måtte føye seg etter rettssystemet og dommer i andre land, der kvaliteten kan være tvilsom. Vil noen føle seg betrygget av rumenske eller bulgarske domstoler?
Mrs May’s statement will confirm that Britain intends to take up its right under the Lisbon Treaty to opt out from justice and home affairs powers by 2014. Under a complex process, the UK will then start negotiating with Brussels to opt back into those laws the government feels are in the national interest.
Moves which Britain is keen on ditching include plans for a European-wide public prosecutor with sweeping powers of investigation and arrest across member states and forcing courts here to take convictions in another country into account, even if they are thought to be unsafe.
The opt-out also covers the European Arrest Warrant, which senior Conservative sources last night said gave rise to serious “concerns”.
These largely involved “proportionality” – including the fact that Britain hands over many more suspects to other countries than it receives to face justice in the UK – as well as the length of time suspects could be held without trial in some other EU.
There is also concern at the apparently trivial offences British police are asked to arrest people for so they can be sent abroad. The Sunday Telegraph witnessed one case involving a man who had allegedly stolen a £30 wheelbarrow who was wanted in Poland. His arrest, detention and court proceedings would have cost an average of £30,000 to the British public purse.
“There are some good features of the arrest warrant – but there are some serious dangers as well,” one source said. “Plus, of course, a lot of these matters are highly sensitive in political terms.”
The move to an opt-out in the field of home affairs and justice is just the first part of a major focus on repatriating powers from Brussels which will last at least until the 2014 elections to the European Parliament.