The UK has a so-called 'opt-in' on justice and home affairs matters. This allows the Government to decide which laws apply to Britain. Under the Lisbon Treaty, every civil and criminal justice, policing or immigration law agreed gives power to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and once the Government has opted in to a new or existing law this decision is practically irreversible. There is already a continuous stream of 'opt in' decisions that are being taken - this Government has for instance already opted in a number of them giving the ECJ jurisdiction, for instance the European Investigation Order and measures on victim's rights - without Parliamentary votes.

The Government must decide by 2014 whether a whole raft of EU police and justice laws agreed before the Lisbon Treaty took force in 2009, including the European Arrest Warrant, will continue to apply in the UK beyond 2014 - if they do they will be subject to the ECJ.

The Fresh Start Project will look at what the effect of these measures may be on the UK's distinctive legal system and whether the balance between the ECJ and our own courts is right. It will look at whether the benefits gained from co-operation in these areas outweighs costs, whether the UK should enact a 'block opt out' in 2014, argue for a situation akin to Denmark, which has a full opt out from justice and home affairs, or if we retain co-operation in this area what extra Parliamentary oversight or safeguards are required with regards to the ECJ.1

1 http://www.openeurope.org.uk/research/eubillbriefing.pdf


Policing & Criminal Justice Chapter (10 Jul 2012)

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An unavoidable choice: More or less EU control over UK policing and criminal law (28 Jan 2012)

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The minutes of the APPG for European Reform meeting on Policing and Crime can be found here.

Supporting Documents:

- The slides used in the meeting can be read here.

The minutes of the Fresh Start Group meeting on Structural Funds can be found here.