05 Oct, 2012

The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, has called on the Government to issue a full public consultation on its proposals to opt out of more than 130 EU criminal justice measures, including the European Arrest Warrant.


The Government has until May 2014 to notify the European Commission of any decision to opt out of all of the police and criminal justice measures adopted under the Treaty of Maastricht. Speaking during a trade visit to Brazil last week, it was reported by the BBC that the Prime Minister, David Cameron, indicated that the Government intended to exercise its opt out powers before the end of the year.


Michael Todd QC, Chairman of the Bar, said: “Those who advocate an opt out of EU criminal justice measures assume that it will remove the UK from the scope of EU criminal justice, and that it may save money. But the UK’s opt out can only relate to measures established before the Treaty of Lisbon came into force in 2009. This is a recipe for confusion and greater costs.


“The loss of these measures, including the European Arrest Warrant, would directly threaten law and order in the UK. Many important practical considerations involved in the fight against cross-border crime would mean that the UK would almost certainly need to seek to opt back into them.


“The implications of the UK’s opt out from EU criminal justice need to be considered very carefully, and should be subject to a full public consultation, so that the impact of any policy changes can be assessed properly. There is more than enough time to do this.


“We share the concerns which have been raised by the Law Society and others about the Government’s plans, and we will be exploring this issue at the Annual Bar Conference next month.”

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