The Home Secretary announced on Tuesday (9 July) that the UK will opt out of EU policing and criminal justice measures adopted before the Lisbon Treaty came into force.
Theresa May confirmed in a statement to Parliament that the government will seek to rejoin only those measures which help the UK co-operate with its European neighbours to combat cross-border crime and keep our country safe.
European Arrest Warrant
One of these is the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), on which the Home Secretary has today proposed significant additional safeguards for those subject to extradition requests, which include:
- Amending the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill to ensure an arrest warrant can be refused for minor crimes
- Using the European Investigation Order instead of the EAW so that police forces and prosecutors share evidence without requiring the extradition of a suspect at the investigative stage; and
- Addressing lengthy and avoidable pre-trial detention by amending the UK Extradition Act so that a person in the UK can only be extradited under the EAW when the requesting State has made a decision to charge – and also to try – that individual, unless that person’s presence is required in that jurisdiction for those decisions to be made.
The government will also seek to rejoin the current Europol directive and Eurojust, which helps to co-ordinate action to tackle serious cross-border crime – but will not participate in the establishment of any European Public Prosecutor.
The Home Secretary explained that the government has sought and listened carefully to the views of law enforcement agencies and identified 35 measures which the UK will seek to rejoin in the national interest.
Home Secretary Theresa May told Parliament:
For reasons of policy, principle and pragmatism, I believe that it is in the national interest to exercise the United Kingdom’s opt-out and rejoin a much smaller set of measures which help us to co-operate with our European neighbours in the fight against serious and organised crime.
I also believe the government must strike the right balance between supporting law enforcement and protecting our traditional liberties. What I have outlined today will achieve both of those goals.
Further information on the 2014 decision is also available here.