Saturday, June 19, 2004

Eurojust

This is a seriously nasty one, which permits the creation of a European Union criminal justice organisation – an FBI equivalent. Amazingly, the bulk of the provisions in the draft constitution (Articles III-171 to 174) were agreed before the summit, including the so-called "emergency brake".

This is dealt with in an earlier Blog, click here, the procedure allowing any member of the Council which considers that a "draft European law" would infringe "the fundamental principles of its legal system" to refer the proposal to the European Council.

However, on the basis of "consensus" rather than unanimity, the European Council can send the proposal straight back to the Council, whence it can be approved by QMV. Yet this is supposed to be one of the vetoes that Blair has preserved.

But the only matter before the summit was one addition to Article III-174 (2). This Article permits the making of European laws to "determine Eurojust's structure, operation, field of action and tasks".

The tasks set out in the original version of the constitution were:

the initiation of criminal investigations, as well as proposing the initiation of prosecutions, conducted by competent national authorities, particularly those relating to offences against the financial interests of the Union; and

the strengthening of judicial cooperation, including by resolution of conflicts of jurisdiction and by close cooperation with the European Judicial Network.
To that was added, the "coordination of investigations and prosecutions" which Eurojust is permitted to initiate. This effectively gives Eurojust operational control of both.

But never fear – there is another safeguard, in the form of a "Declaration for incorporation in the Final Act". This reads:

The Conference considers that the European laws referred to in Article III-174(2) should take into account national rules and practices relating to the initiation of criminal investigations.
There you are, when Eurocops are trampling all over the crime scene, you will be comforted to know that the law under which they operate will "take into account national rules and practices".

Take into account? Red line? Pah!

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