May defends position on European Arrest Warrant


Home Secretary Theresa May has rejected suggestions that her plans to amend the European Arrest Warrant before rejoining it are facing hurdles.

The government said in 2013 it would opt out of all 133 EU justice laws and then seek to opt back in to 35 deemed to be "in the national interest".

This includes the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), which ministers want to modify to apply a new "proportionality" test, excluding its application for minor crimes.

But in a debate on 7 April 2014, European Scrutiny Committee chair and Conservative MP Bill Cash put it to Mrs May that several EU countries, including France, Spain and Germany, had raised objections to the government's plans.

His comments came after an EU document leaked to the Daily Telegraph raised the possibility that Britain's rejoining of the scheme could be blocked or delayed because of other member states' concerns.

"Isn't it all rather running into the sand?" Mr Cash asked the home secretary, to which she replied: "No it isn't. And I have to say to you that you are not party to the discussions, we are party to the discussions."

Conservative eurosceptic backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg said the leaked document showed concerns over plans for a proportionality test on extraditable offences.

But the home secretary said other EU countries "have within their own systems a greater ability to deal with issues like proportionality and I think it's right that we have taken powers ourselves within our own legislation [the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act] to do that".

Mrs May's Labour counterpart, Yvette Cooper, accused her of peddling "a massive con" and "playing games with European security cooperation".

She sought to ridicule the so-called "historic transfer of powers" claiming that most of the measures the UK is staying out of "were largely redundant anyway".

The shadow home secretary added: "We have today no update on the progress of the negotiations; no sense of the timetable; no sense of when the vote will be called.

"And we do have to wonder what it is that you, the home secretary, have to hide, and the truth is that you are hiding because this whole opt-out, opt-in is a massive con."

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