The Balance of Competences report on Police and Criminal Justice has been published today. Based on the evidence submitted the report reached the following conclusions:

“The majority of respondents pointed to the benefits of practical co-operation mechanisms (such as the EU Organised Crime Policy Cycle).

There is a broad consensus that more time is needed for the current legislation to be fully implemented and bedded down before consideration of any further legislative instruments.

Views are split about whether the collapse from Third into First pillar was necessary or has been of benefit to this area. The European Parliament has an enhanced role as co-legislator while the overall responsibility to keep people safe is retained by governments. For some this raised issues of democratic accountability, while others considered the development positively as potentially providing balance in tensions between internal security and personal liberty.

The ‘opt-in’ under Protocol 21 to the Treaties is seen as a positive tool, however opinions diverged on how and when it is best used. There were concerns, in particular from legal practitioners, that a decision not to opt in to new proposals had the potential to negatively impact the United Kingdom’s ability to influence negotiations. However there was also evidence from stakeholders who felt that the ability of the UK to opt in on a case-by-case basis was beneficial, allowing the Government to, for example, consider the impact of proposals in light of our specific legal systems.

Judicial and police cooperation benefit from both ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ arrangements resulting from EU action.

Improving procedural standards across Member States was widely supported, however there was a lack of consensus regarding what, if any, role the EU has in delivering on this. Instruments based on mutual recognition require trust in the level of procedural standards in other Member States, but views were mixed as to whether EU legislation setting out such minimum procedural standards is the best vehicle for achieving this, or whether the aims could be achieved through inter-governmental agreements or non-legislative means.

There is no appetite for standardising criminal law. Mutual recognition has helped to address issues raised by the differing penal codes and criminal justice systems in each Member State.

Progress is needed to rebalance action in this area better to support victims of crime. Victims’ groups in particular considered EU action to have been insufficiently focussed on areas key for them such as supporting victims and witnesses when engaging with Criminal Justice Systems (CJS) in other Member states.

Emerging challenges include responding to the increasingly international nature of crime such as the evolving nature of the threat from foreign fighters, terrorists and serious and organised crime gangs who operate without respect for national or EU borders and increasing technological challenges, including cybercrime – which does not recognise physical borders. To tackle these challenges the Government need to ensure a genuine focus on practical cooperation is established, as well as finding ways to work more effectively with partners in EU Member States and in third countries.

Further challenges include adapting to full European Court of Justice (ECJ) jurisdiction from 1 December 2014, and the effective implementation of existing legislation.”

Margarida Vasconcelos was quoted as saying:

“The ordinary legislative procedure and qualified majority voting are the rule, and, accordingly, the secret trilogues and first reading deals have been extended to these matters […] with adverse consequences to the UK democracy and sovereignty.”

”The CJEU has been deeply interfering with the UK legal system, overriding national rules as regards a wide range of EU policies and legislation […] the CJEU’s interpretations are likely to change the content, reach and impact of measures and the way they apply to the UK. The CJEU has been expanding the reach and scope of European Law, using a purposive interpretation, to promote European integration.” Please read here Margarida Vasconcelos – evidence.