PAGING DAVID CAMERON (via Robert Schwartz):

Brussels publishes list of first seven pan-European crimes (Anthony Browne, 11/24/05, Times of London)

The ruling means that for the first time in legal history, a British government and Parliament will no longer have the sovereign right to decide what constitutes a crime and what the punishment should be.

The highly controversial announcement, made possible by a European Court of Justice ruling in September, would represent a huge transfer of power from national capitals to the EU. At present member states jealously guard their right to decide what constitutes a criminal offence, and when their citizens should be fined, imprisoned or given criminal records.

The Commission suggested several other offences, including racial discrimination and intellectual property theft, which could become European crimes in the future. It will also set out the level of penalty, such as length of prison sentence, that would apply to each crime.

The announcement is strongly opposed by Britain and many other member states. The Commission is using powers granted by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, the EU’s supreme court, and governments fear that there is little they can do to prevent it. The court ruled that the EU had the right to require member states to create criminal offences, and could dictate the length of prison sentences.

The case before the court in September applied only to environmental law, but the Commission says it means that it can create criminal penalties to enforce the entire body of EU law. A Commission statement said that the court’s reasoning can be applied “to all Community policies and freedoms which involve binding legislation with which criminal penalties should be associated in order to ensure their effectiveness”.

The Tories can break Labour, Europe or both if they use this well.

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