Towards The EU Police State: EU Criminal Law Overrides Member States

Posted on Friday, September 30 at 13:51 by chall
The judgment by the EU supreme court was opposed by 11 EU Governments - Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, France,the UK, Spain, Portugal and Greece. In principle the judgement gives the EU the power to impose criminal sanctions for all breaches of EU law. It greatly extends the power of the non-elected Brussels Commission, which would have the exclusive right to propose such criminal sanctions, to be adopted by majority vote of the Council of Ministers. Traditionally the EU Court of Justice(ECJ) works hand in glove with the Commission, as both are supranational institutions that benefit from increasing supranational powers. In the words of one of its judges,the ECJ is a "court with a mission" - that mission being to extend the supranational powers of the EU and its institutions to the utmost. The Commission's press release of yesterday welcoming the Court ruling may be read at Yesterday's ruling was given in a test case about environmental law, an issue which may make it acceptable to some people who fail to appreciate its far-reaching constitutional and political implications. The judgement is a legal landmark that sets an important precedent. It gives the Commission the right to decide when breaches of EU laws are so serious that they should be treated as criminal. The EU Council of Ministers and the 11 or the 15 older Member States that lost the court-case were seeking to guard their sovereignty over criminal law. The Commission took them to court after they blocked it from introducing harmonised criminal law for pollution. The Court of Justice ruled in the Commission's favour, concluding: "The European Community has the power to require the member states to lay down criminal penalties for the purposes of protecting the environment." Yesterday's judgement upheld the EU Commission's challenge to the Council of Ministers' "Framework Decision on the Protection of the Environment through Criminal Law". The Council of Ministers contended in the case that,as EU law currently stands, Member States cannot be forced to impose criminal penalties in respect of conduct covered by the Framework Decision. The 11 Member States that supported the Council of Ministers position contended that not only is there no express conferral of power on the EU to impose criminal sanctions under the European treaties, but, "given the considerable significance of criminal law for the sovereignty of the Member States, there are no grounds for accepting that that power can have been implicitly transferred to the Community at a time when specific substantive powers,such as those pertaining to the environment, were conferred on it." The Commission disputed this view and yesterday's Court judgement came down decisively on the Commission's side. The judgement effectively means that when Member States transferred powers to the EU, the Court of Justice has now decided that they implicitly gave the EU power to impose EU criminal sanctions also for breaches of EU law. EU Member States have always insisted that the power to set criminal law goes to the heart of national sovereignty and must be decided by national Governments and Parliaments. The judgement of the Luxembourg judges means, however, that national governments can no longer exempt EU law from being upheld by criminal sanctions. When the peoples of the 10 new Accession States agreed in various referendums to transfer powers to Brussels, their national politicians who supported this step never told them that they could be found to be in breach of EU criminal law for disobedience! The Commission says that it would use its new powers only in extreme circumstances, but its officials are already talking about introducing EU crimes for overfishing, deliberate polluting, money laundering, price fixing and the vast legal territory of the EU internal market. Josť Manuel Barroso, the President of the Commission, welcomed yesterday's ruling: "This is a watershed decision. It paves the way for more democratic and more efficient lawmaking at EU level." In reality it opens the way to criminal laws over a vast policy territory being rewritten at EU level,and a harmonised EU criminal code, which was prefigured in the proposed EU Constitution that was rejected by French and Dutch voters this summer. The EU Court said that although as a general rule criminal law does not fall within EU powers, that "does not prevent the Community legislature ... from taking measures that relate to the criminal law of member states which it considers necessary". The ruling means that the Commission can propose an EU crime that, if passed by the European Parliament and a qualified majority of Member States, must be adopted by all Member States even though a particular Government and Parliament may be against it. This means that a particular EU Member can be forced to introduce a crime into its law if enough other EU States support it. It also gives the Commission the power to compel members to enforce EU criminal law if governments drag their heels or if their courts refuse to sentence people for breaches of EU laws. The ruling was welcomed by most members of the European Parliament, who will now have the powers to pass criminal law and not just civil law and who thereby increase their own powers. In the apt words of today's London "Times" editorial given below: "Democracy yesterday suffered a grievous defeat in a court whose contempt for sovereignty verges on the criminal."

Note: http://www.statewatch.o... http://www.globalresear...

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