To view the original article CLICK HEREMPs will be powerless to prevent Ministers signing away sweeping controls over policing and justice to Brussels, despite the European Union Bill currently going through Parliament.The legislation, due to reach its crucial Committee Stage on Tuesday, is supposed to stop the drain of sovereign powers to Brussels without a referendum or Parliamentary approval.However damning research by respected independent think tank Open Europe has revealed a series of loopholes that will leave huge areas of justice and home affairs open to EU takeover.At the heart of the Bill is the Government’s so-called Referendum Lock, designed to give British citizens a vote over any proposals for major transfers of power from Westminster to the EU.However, critics say the lock could be “picked by a child” because, as it currently stands, the Bill neglects a huge range of areas where British Ministers will be able to opt into new EU laws without even seeking approval from MPs in Parliament.The 2007 Lisbon Treaty has given the European Commission greater powers to draw up new laws, it has given the European Parliament the power to amend them and the European Court of Justice more power to enforce them.
Open Europe wants a series of amendments to the Bill that would force Ministers to get the approval of Parliament before opting into justice and home affairs matters and in certain cases make a referendum obligatory.Author Stephen Booth said: “It would be extremely easy to give Parliament and voters more control over whether the Government concedes more power to the EU in this area.“This is a huge opportunity to make the UK’s cooperation with Europe more democratic and may help rebuild some of the electorate’s confidence in Parliament, so badly lost when the Lisbon Treaty was forced through.“MPs should demand the right to approve the decisions the Government makes in the name of their constituents. The EU’s growing ambitions in justice and home affairs deserve Parliament’s undivided attention. It would be a colossal own-goal for MPs to pass up this golden opportunity.”
Open Europe says that the EU Bill, which has already attracted more than 40 amendments, is full of loopholes.For example the Bill says a referendum must be held over whether we should have a European Public Prosecutor, but not over the extension of the powers of Eurojust, a body which at the moment aids prosecutors, magistrates and police across the EU to share information that helps them fight crime.However Brussels bureaucrats are planning to transform it into an organisation that investigates major crime cases, with the power to order arrests and trials.Another loophole exists because the subject of family law has been left out of the requirement in the EU Bill for a referendum to be held before Britain gives up its remaining vetoes over most home affairs and justice issues.The present arrangement on new EU legislation gives the Government three months to decide whether to opt in or out.Opting in allows Ministers to take part in negotiations over the new laws but if the proposal ends up as something with which it does not agree it is unable to opt out again.The EU Bill is seen as an attempt to appease Conservatives on the centre-right following David Cameron’s 2009 U-turn over his promise to hold a referendum over the Lisbon Treaty.But Brussels baiters have branded it a “fig leaf” designed only to spare the Prime Minister’s blushes. And they say it does as much to highlight Westminster’s impotence as it does to boost Parliamentary authority.Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Indpendence Party, said: “The Referendum Lock could be picked by a child.“Designed the way it is, this law makes things less democratic rather than more by handing even more power to the courts. It is marketing without product.”Labour leader Ed Miliband has hinted his MPs may join Tory rebels to defeat the legislation. While the threat is likely to prove hollow, Mr Cameron could ill afford a defeat in an area where his leadership is seen as weak.He failed in his battle to secure a freeze on this year’s European budget and the sight of British money being pumped into an Irish euro bailout has inflamed anti-European sentiment among British voters.The EU Referendum Campaign has already attracted tens of thousands of signatures of support.It has conducted a series of polls which have shown most Britons want the chance to vote in a referendum that will let them decide if we should stay in the EU or leave.
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