Bishops of Derby and Wakefield seek clarification on UK’s position on EU Justice and Home Affairs measures

On 14th October 2013, the Bishop of Derby, the Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, and the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, both received answers to written questions on the European Union’s Justice and Home Affairs Measures.

Bishop of DerbyThe Lord Bishop of Derby: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord McNally on 29 August (WA 318), what guarantees they sought from other member states, prior to their decision of 9 July to opt out of 130 European Union Justice and Home Affairs measures, that the United Kingdom would be able to opt back in to various police and justice measures.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): Protocol 36 does not provide for guarantees to be obtained from Member States and no Member State would have been able to have given such a guarantee. We therefore did not seek any such guarantees from Member States. However, the issue has been discussed in meetings with our EU counterparts at both Ministerial and official level.

However, Protocol 36 to the Treaties places an obligation on the UK and the Union institutions to, “…seek to re-establish the widest possible measure of participation of the United Kingdom in the acquis of the Union in the area of freedom, security and justice without seriously affecting practical operability of the various parts thereof, while respecting their coherence”. Given this, we are confident that we will be able to reach agreement on a sensible final package of measures that the UK will formally apply to rejoin.

Final agreement is subject to approval by the Council in the case of Schengen measures and the Commission for all others.

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Bishop of Wakefield PlattenThe Lord Bishop of Wakefield: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord McNally on 29 August (WA 318), what assessment they have made of the likely impact on the United Kingdom’s criminal justice and policing system if, following their decision of 9 July to opt out of 130 European Union Justice and Home Affairs measures, the United Kingdom is unable to opt back in to various European Union police and justice measures.

Lord McNally: The Government carefully considered the implications of its decision to exercise its right to opt out and which measures the UK should seek to rejoin. As part of this consideration the Government considered how the measures contributed to public safety and security, whether practical cooperation is underpinned by the measure, and whether there would be a detrimental impact on such cooperation if pursued by other mechanisms. The impact of a measure on civil rights and liberties is also a consideration. Further detail on this is outlined in Command Paper 8671, which was submitted to Parliament on 9 July 2013.

Protocol 36 to the Treaties places an obligation on the UK and the Union institutions to, “…seek to re-establish the widest possible measure of participation of the United Kingdom in the acquis of the Union in the area of freedom, security and justice without seriously affecting practical operability of the various parts thereof, while respecting their coherence”. Given this, we are confident that we will be able to reach agreement on a sensible final package of measures that the UK will formally apply to rejoin.

The Government also notes the positive statements released by the European Commission on 9 July this year:

“At first sight, it appears that the UK has looked at the opt-ins in a pragmatic way.

The Commission hopes that the UK can continue to contribute actively and pragmatically to the EU wide fight against organised crime and terrorism”.

The Government looks forward to negotiating with the Commission and Member States in order to rejoin measures that are in the national interest.

(via Parliament.uk)