Judicial Cooperation Yes, EU Office of Public Prosecutions No

22 April 2014

Judicial Cooperation Yes, EU Office of Public Prosecutions No

SP Member of Parliament Michiel van Nispen is urging Minister of Justice Ivo Opstelten and Secretary of State for Security Fred Teeven to make a much clearer statement against the far-reaching transfer of powers to Brussels in the area of judicial affairs. ‘Of course we must cooperate with other countries, as crooks don’t let national frontiers stop them,’ said Van Nispen. ‘But it’s unnecessary and even undesirable to keep transferring powers to Europe. Criminal law must remain a national matter. If Dutch government ministers can speak plainly in Parliament, then henceforth they ought to do it in Brussels too.’

Michiel van NispenIn Van Nispen’s opinion the European Commission interferes to far too great an extent in judicial affairs and pays no attention to the criticisms levelled at it in response. Minister Opstelten and Secretary Teeven have also urged the EU not to move towards imposing further rules and instead carry out more effectively the already existing agreements among the member states. ‘This was quite correct; the SP has been urging the same for years,’ Van Nispen points out. ‘But the European Commission seems to take no notice. There’s rules on drugs policy, an area of policy for which the member states are responsible. The Commission makes proposals on minimum sentences, which don’t exist in the Netherlands and which we absolutely don’t want. And there’s even a proposal to introduce a European consumer law which will add nothing and which makes the consumer’s position less clear. The SP would like to see Opstelten and Teeven distance themselves from such proposals more emphatically. We should only work together at European level where this adds value and where the necessity of doing so has been demonstrated. As for a European superstate and the further transfer of powers, we have no need for this.’

In addition, Van Nispen sees the European Commission as having an insatiable appetite, a good example of which is what is happening in relation to the possible establishment of a European Office of Public Prosecutions. ‘In the Lisbon Treaty it states that an OPP may be established,’ Van Nispen admits, ‘ but then an overzealous European Commissioner is expressing the opinion that an OPP must be established. And this is despite all the criticism, including from national parliaments. The member states are being put under pressure, by means of an ill-thought out proposal, to go along with this, with the argument that a European OPP would not deal with anything except fraud involving EU funds. Now we read in documents that it will ‘in the first instance’ direct itself at combatting fraud! So it’s only a matter of time before this is broadened. It’s always the same. So the issue here is that if the Dutch minister says no, then the Netherlands isn’t bound to this, and it’s incredible that Opstelten hasn’t to date dared to do that.’

Wednesday will see a debate with Minister Opstelten and Secretary Teeven on the European Multi-Annual Budget for judicial and home affairs (JHA).

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