If there was ever a scintilla of doubt that the Prime Minister was dedicated to the EU cause, then surely it must be dispelled with this news – that he is, voluntarily, to sign up to nearly a third of a series of European policing and criminal justice measures, from which the UK could otherwise have withdrawn.
The measures to which Mr Cameron is prepared to opt-in include the controversial European arrest warrant and measures to share information with countries in the Schengen zone.
Apparently, the Conservatives would have preferred that we opted back in to no more than 29 of the 130, giving the an opportunity of claiming an iconic hundred powers had been repatriated. But their Lib-Dem partners wanted to opt in to 70 of the measures, and a compromised has been reached with about 45. Negotiations continue, and ministers hope to drag the overall figure down to about 35 of the measures.
Via the Guardian, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper speaks up for the European arrest warrant. She claims that, “For an 18 year old student, beaten until her eye socket shattered in an attempted rape in Ireland, the European Arrest Warrant helped get justice. Her attacker, Arunas Cervinskas, left Ireland for London, but was returned by the Met three weeks after his Arrest Warrant was issued and is now serving his sentence in an Irish prison”.
But nothing is said of the arbitrary nature of the warrant, or of the apparent abuses, to say nothing of the fact that there can be no judicial intervention in the UK, even if it is thought that the warrant should not have been issued.
However, Britain is expected to press for a “proportionality” test to ensure British citizens cannot be deported to another EU state on relatively minor offences. Polish law, for example, imposes relatively long sentences on offences such as bicycle theft – meaning a UK citizen accused of such a crime could be deported to Poland.
Where that gets us is anyone’s guess, but we cannot avoid the view that, if Mr Cameron so easily vests powers in the EU when he has no obligation to do so, then the chances of him forcing the issue on more difficult transfers of powers is extremely remote.
With his recent “top table” statement, it was already very clear where his sentiments lay and now we seem to be descending deeper into the pit, from which there seems little escape as long as Mr Cameron is in charge.