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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Crime and immigration

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Crime and immigration

Crime and immigration

Thursday June 17, 2004
The Guardian

Current proposals

A common asylum and immigration policy would operate by QMV, so that Britain could in theory be outvoted on border control, the definition and treatment of refugees and immigrants, as well as on the related "financial implications".

There will also be EU laws to "harmonise civil procedures" and the rules of admissibility of evidence, rights of victims and suspects, as well as definitions of some criminal offences and sentences.

The role of Europol will be strengthened and an EU public prosecutor established. The ECJ will have some powers of interpretation in line with the European convention on human rights, established in 1948, long before the EU. It will also have to juggle national law and tradition, not least the UK/Ireland common law system.

Blair's position

Britain has long advocated EU action against organised crime, terrorism and illegal immigration, as well as a more level playing field on immigration. It says that - with safeguards - the treaty will speed up effective immigration processes and enhance cooperation on justice and home affairs, which will be shifted inside the EU's over-arching constitution instead of being an inter-governmental "pillar" as now.

But Labour wishes to hang on to the symbolic control of border entry. It also opposed the creation of an EU prosecutor.

Likely outcome

Possible difficulties for Britain - together immigration and Europe form a potent political brew. But the government will not oppose the principle behind what is proposed in the constitution.

UK's trouble rating: 3/5

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