Tories condemn EU bid to launch its own crime probes in Britain

29-Apr-2015 @ 17:30

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Amjad Bashir Amjad Bashir

Amjad Bashir Amjad Bashir

The creation of a European Public Prosecutor's Office would mean a carte blanche for the EU to launch criminal investigations wherever it chose, a senior Conservative MEP has cautioned.

Timothy Kirkhope MEP, Conservative spokesman on justice and home affairs in the European Parliament, said concern over fraudulent mis-spending of funds from Brussels was being used as an excuse to extend the powers of the EU into areas where they did not belong.

He issued his warning as MEPs in Strasbourg voted today (Wednesday) on a report making recommendations to the EU Council over creation of a prosecutor's office. They would give the body exclusive powers to prosecute EU fraud and other crimes affecting the EU's financial interests.

At present only national authorities can investigate and prosecute EU Fraud. Conservative MEPs opposed the report but it was voted through with the support of British Labour and Liberal Democrat MEPs.

Mr Kirkhope said:  "It has to be down to the British police and the Crown Prosecution Service to decide which crimes are investigated and prosecuted in the UK – and how.

"Of course we strongly support the fight against organised crime and fraud and believe it has to be a political priority. But like colleagues in many other EU countries, we believe this proposal amounts to a costly erosion of our national sovereignty.

"There are already a number of existing agencies and pieces of legislation designed to address the issue of fraud. Member States who are failing when it comes to prosecuting and investigating fraud should be held to account through these existing mechanisms. 

"David Cameron exercised the UK's opt out so that the UK does not have to participate in the EPPO, however, it is clear once again that if Miliband was in power, Labour would go down the same old road of handing over more and more power to the EU over our criminal justice system.

"Labour and the Lib Dems may want to hand Brussels a carte blanche to launch full-scale criminal inquiries on our soil, but Conservatives most certainly do not.

"Another law, another expensive agency, another 'one size fits all' response to a very diverse problem, is the not the right solution.  When EU fraud is the problem, more EU is not the answer."

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