There’s not an awful lot of point in the UK government conducting 32 reports into aspects of EU membership if its not going to heed the advice it already gets on matters European.
Britain’s foreign secretary William Hague announced the initiative yesterday. The first six reports are to look at the implications for the UK economy of Britain’s membership of the single market, the effect of EU membership on UK taxation policy, health policy, foreign policy and external relations, according to the FT.
The result of those studies, we are to believe, will inform how the UK engages with the EU in the future or even seeks to renegotiate British membership of the bloc.
Perhaps the exercise is long overdue, and – if conducted objectively and thoroughly – could finally put an end to the wild salvoes of propaganda that get fired back and forth (though mainly forth).
But recent evidence suggests the government, when offered such advice, will plug its fingers in its ears and go “LA LA LA LA I’M NOT LISTENING I’M GOING AHEAD WITH WHATEVER I WANT AND YOU CAN’T STOP ME LA LA LA LA.”
Witness: Home secretary Theresa May last week restated the government’s wish to “opt out of all pre-Lisbon Police and Criminal Justice measures and then negotiate with the member states and the Commission those individual measures that it is our national interests to rejoin [sic].”
This has been in the pipeline for a while, and in fact was an issue the House of Lords’ own EU select committee looked into.
Its findings slipped onto the internet unnoticed in April this year, full of headline grabbing quotes which contradict the government line, but unfortunately at the time grabbed no headlines whatsoever.
“There is … likely to be a significant body of subsisting EU mutual recognition legislation which will be involved. Opting out of this legislation would have significant repercussions on UK criminal enforcement” the committee – headed by a Conservative peer – concluded.
“We share the scepticism that it will be possible for the UK to “pick and mix” by opting out of all the subsisting pre-Lisbon legislation and immediately opting back in to some only,” it continued.
Among the experts invited to testify before the committee, University of Cambridge criminal law specialist Professor John R Spencer warned of an “unthinkable mess” that would follow in relation to extradition if the UK were to opt out of the European Arrest Warrant.
University of Essex European law Professor Steve Peers meanwhile “cautioned that this [opt-out] could not only cause political problems but would also leave a gap that could cause a number of legal problems.”
And yet, and yet, six months later the government is still insisting that the opposite must SURELY be true.
BM *N.B. this po-faced rant also appears as a guest post on the site of think-tank Nucleus.