Kirkhope: The right way to engage with Europe on crime and justice

09-Jul-2013 @ 15:0

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Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

The Home Secretary deserves credit for setting out a responsible approach for a renewed relationship with the EU in the area of crime, justice and home affairs.
Timothy Kirkhope, Conservative spokesman on justice and home affairs in the European Parliament, described Theresa May's announcement today as "practical, determined and realistic".
The Yorkshire and Humber MEP said:
"The problems we face in this area all stem from Labour's inept negotiation of the Lisbon Treaty which has left the present Government with only two options: to either opt in or out of all crime and justice legislation.
"This lack of flexibility has ultimately put us in an impossible position, so the Home Secretary is doing absolutely the right thing by taking us out, with a view to opting back in to individual measures that are in the best interests of UK citizens.
"What is important now is that we should be careful and courteous in our negotiations to opt back into the useful areas which are of value to the UK. It will not happen automatically, and will require a great deal of work, diplomacy and tact in Brussels and national capitals to convince our allies of the merits of allowing us to re-engage in certain areas. I will do all I can to assist the Home Secretary in securing a good outcome for the UK from these negotiations."
Mr Kirkhope has been working to move forward reforms to a number of EU Justice and Home Affairs measures that would make it easier for the UK to opt back in, including Europol and the European Arrest Warrant. He believes data-sharing arrangements such as the EAW, the Visa Information System and the European Criminal Records Information System are examples of the sort of valuable protocols the UK may wish to restore after the opt-out.
"The issues are far from simple," said Mr Kirkhope, himself a former Home Office minister, "But we have to engage constructively in order to get the best deal for the British people.
"There is no doubt the European Arrest Warrant needs serious reform to prevent some of the abuses we have seen. However, we should seek to achieve those reforms first because we have a good prospect of success.
"The Home Secretary has taken a practical, determined and realistic approach which sets us on the right road."
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