The Netherlands must not allow Brussels to interfere in matters of criminal law

13 February 2006

The Netherlands must not allow Brussels to interfere in matters of criminal law

The European Commission continues to make attempts to stick its nose into what should be exclusively Dutch affairs. Despite the fact that the member states have, according to the EU Treaty, complete control over their legal systems, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has seen fit to give the Commission the right to enforce its directives through the criminal law. This ruling reflects proposed treaty changes contained in the European Constitution which was, for good reason, rejected by a clear majority of the Dutch electorate. The SP has for several months been pushing the Minister of Justice to exclude any input from the European Constitutions into the criminal law in the member states.

The European Commission announced at the end of November that it wished to use the criminal law as an instrument to enforce its directives. The SP was the only party to protest against this at the time, in response to which the minister stated that he would not support the Commission's plans. When, shortly afterwards, SP parliamentarians put forward more detailed questions, the government found itself unable to repeat this promise. But around the same time criticism of ECJ rulings was growing, and the government was reluctant to raise the matter in Brussels.

In the SP's opinion criminal law must remain in the hands of the member states. There is nothing to stop them from agreeing amongst themselves to further harmonisations, or from deciding against such developments. To allow the European Commission the power of initiative for such legal changes would mean an undermining of the right to control our own affairs in our own country.

Next Thursday the SP will propose to parliament that it should demand that the minister express disapproval of the drift towards expansion of the power of the European institutions.

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