Evidence wanted on EU opt-out

Constitutional law
The House of Lords EU Committee has launched an inquiry into the use of the United Kingdom opt-out from EU police and criminal justice measures and its potential implications for the UK. It will be conducted jointly by the EU Sub-Committee on Justice, Institutions and Consumer Protection and the EU Sub-Committee on Home Affairs, Health and Education.


Under Protocol 36 of the Treaty of Lisbon, the Government has until 31 May 2014 to decide if it wants the UK to continue with the 130 measures, which were enacted before the Lisbon Treaty came into force. The European Court of Justice will have jurisdiction over the measures after December 2014.

If it decides to opt out then the UK will be out of all the measures, which include: participation in Europol; the exchange of information on cross-border crime; mutual recognition of court judgments including pre-trial supervision orders, probation, custody and the recovery of fines; and the definition of offences and penalties for cross-border crimes, including terrorism and human trafficking.

It can apply to opt back in to individual measures, but this will be subject to the views of the European Commission and other Member States.

On 15 October 2012 the Home Secretary told Parliament that “the Government are clear that we do not need to remain bound by all the pre-Lisbon measures” and that their “current thinking” is that the UK should exercise the opt-out but negotiate to opt back in to individual measures. However the Government has said it will hold a debate and vote in each House before a decision is made.

The House of Lords EU Committee has called for written evidence, which should be submitted by 14 December. It will begin to hold public evidence sessions in January 2013, and expects to produce a report next May.

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