Wednesday, 17 February 2010

We remain in the dark about the European Public Prosecutor

Some time ago Marta Andreasen, UKIP MEP and a woman who knows a great deal about the shadier workings of the European Union, wrote an Open Letter to David Cameron.

Explaining that when she asked Commissioner-Designate Algirdas Šemeta about plans to create a European Public Prosecutor as agreed in the Lisbon Treaty, she was told that this was being discussed, Ms Andreasen makes matters clear:
His response was that "we should move forward". He further confirmed that it is also being discussed by other members of the European Commission. This means that such a plan is already Commission policy and that it will be implemented regardless of who is confirmed in due course as Taxation and Anti-Fraud Commissioner. This reply, and the implications thereof, and the absence of any firm denial leave no doubt that European Commission and the Budgetary Control Commissioner intend to bring forward such a plan in the very near future and that planning is already well advanced.

As you know, Article 86 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), provides for the possible establishment of the Office of European Public Prosecutor from EUROJUST. For such a proposal to become law, however, there must be unanimity in the Council: in other words, the United Kingdom retains a veto on the creation of an EPP. This requirement puts the United Kingdom in a very strong position to prevent the creation of such a post when it is presented to the Council.
So the plan is there, the intention is there but Britain does have the right of veto. Will Britain use it? Marta Andreasen addresses the possible (nay, probable) next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom:
I write, therefore, to ask you if you will undertake now that the Conservative Party will include in its forthcoming manifesto for the 2010 General Election an unambiguous pledge to veto any proposal to establish a European Public Prosecutor's Office if you become Prime Minister at the forthcoming general election, whether as the head of a government with a majority in Parliament or as head of a minority coalition government?
So far we have heard nothing from the Conservative Party on the subject, possibly because Ms Andreasen wisely stopped all the holes; one never knows about cast-iron guarantees, after all.

Philip Johnston wrote on the subject in the Daily Telegraph on February 1. He reported Algirdas Šemeta’s comment but not Marta Andreasen’s role in eliciting it. Well, she is a UKIP MEP, after all.

However, Mr Johnston has sounded the alarm and has repeated Ms Andreasen’s suggestion that the Tories should give an unequivocal guarantee that they will veto all suggestions of such an office being created.
The [Lisbon] treaty gives the power for the creation of a European Public Prosecutor along the lines outlined in Corpus Juris. The EPP's office, backed up by Eurojust, a body that is supposed to help co-ordinate cross-border crime investigations, would be responsible for "investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgment, in liaison with Europol, the perpetrators of, and accomplices in, offences against the Union's financial interests". The Treaty provides for its remit to be extended to cover "serious crime having a cross-border dimension".

In the European Parliament earlier this month, Algirdas Semeta, the new EU tax commissioner, said that since the Treaty provided for the role then they might as well go ahead with it. His problem, and it is a big one, is this: it is one of the dwindling number of areas that requires a unanimous decision by the EU before it can proceed. In other words, we have a veto.

Here, then, is a great opportunity for an incoming Conservative government to take a stand on Europe that does not require a referendum, does not put at risk Britain's membership, does not re-open old Tory Euro-wounds and cannot be denounced as anti-European because the rules of the club allow for it to be taken.

My understanding is that the Tories do intend to veto the EPP – though why they have not made a bigger song and dance about it beats me. It is inconceivable, surely, that presented with an opportunity to block such an extension of EU powers the party would not take it. But since the polls suggest the Tories are by no means certain to win the election outright, there has to be a pledge from Labour and the Lib Dems that they will veto the EPP idea as well.
Meanwhile, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, formerly Labour, now Independent peer asked HMG “whether they will support any proposal for the establishment of a European Public Prosecutor”.
HMG’s response was not entirely unequivocal:
No. The Government have consistently opposed the creation of a European Public Prosecutor (EPP).
Yes, but will they veto the proposal when it comes up? And will the Conservatives?


  1. I wrote to my MP asking him to support the early-day motion on this issue. He replied saying that, as a ShadowCabinet member, he rarely voted on EDMs but expressed concern about the way things were going. Seems like fence-sitting to me, and as a result it reinforces my decision to vote UKIP at the GE.

  2. The truth is that nobody can actually recall when an EDM was last debated in the House. Possibly some time in the seventies.

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  4. Dear Lord,

    The continental inquisitorial legal system, whilst in few jurisdictions guarantees a very high independence to the investigative team, does not provide the accused with Britain's constitutional protections (Bill of Rights, Habeas Corpus et cetera...) and does not permit trials by jury, but only by career judges.

    Citizens in the Continent are pretty much helpless before the State, let it alone before the EU!

    Is it fair for the UK (+ Gibraltar), Ireland and Malta to give away their adversarial legal systems for an inquisitorial one?
    I believe not.


  5. From Torquil Dick-Erikson

    Dear Lord Pearson,
    This is an excellent post.
    The EPP is a terrible danger to our liberties. Once the principle of EU criminal jurisdiction is accepted, the Prosecutor will be followed by the Napoleonic-inquisitorial criminal code for all Europe, Corpus Juris, and then the European Gendarmerie Force - (for those who do not know what it is, this is their official website).

    We must therefore put as much pressure as possible on Cameron to answer the question "WILL YOU VETO THE EPP?"

    It is a pity that it is very hard to find this post of yours now, unless one knows where to look for it.

    Have you sent it to David Cameron, asking him directly to respond?

    Why not give it more visibility by posting it on your website? And indeed on the WWW.UKIP.ORG website, where it will be seen by all party members and visitors?

    Keep up the good work!
    Best wishes,
    Torquil Dick-Erikson, Rome, Italy