September 20, 2011

EU criminal law proposals substantially undermine the right of EU governments and parliaments

Brussels, 20th September 2011

EU criminal law proposals substantially undermine the right of EU governments and parliamentsProposals from the European Commission that aim to further the development of EU criminal law raise serious concerns about a fundamental breach of statehood within the EU, Sajjad Karim MEP, European Conservatives and Reformists group legal affairs spokesman in the European Parliament, has warned.

The commission has today published a 'communication' setting out options to further develop the Lisbon Treaty's provisions that make it possible for the EU to set criminal law across the bloc. Even before the Lisbon Treaty was passed, the European Court of Justice ruled in 2005 that criminal penalties for environmental crimes could be set at EU level as they fell under 'community competence'; this led to other proposals being brought forward for other 'community competence' matters, using the jurisprudence of the court.

Mr Karim, himself a lawyer, said that national governments are the members of the EU and only they can be brought before the courts if they infringe EU policies that they have agreed. He warned that giving the commission further licence to create criminal law would push Europe further towards a federal system such as the USA where some crimes concern the states and some are federal. National parliaments are expected to transpose European proposals for criminal sanctions into law in each member state.

Mr Karim said that the commission should focus its attention on improving cooperation between national governments to apprehend criminals perpetrating cross-border crimes, but he believes it can be achieved without a further EU power grab.

He said:

"We have a process of implementing and enforcing EU policy: through national governments.

"Defining what constitutes a crime and what penalties should apply is a fundamental issue of statehood. Unfortunately an activist ruling by the European court and the Lisbon Treaty have undermined this right. We have seen some criminal law already passed at EU level but this should not open the floodgates to a US style system of state and federal criminal systems.

"This debate boils down to the fundamental question of whether we believe the EU should be a collection of states, or a state in itself which, in true federalist form, has the power to declare certain people criminals. That is not the kind of EU that I want to see.

"Criminal law and penalty-setting should be the preserve of national authorities. The only bodies that the commission should have powers to take to court should be the governments themselves."


Notes: More information is available at the commission site:

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