The Long Goodbye
BRUSSELS has been given the power to compel British courts to fine or imprison people for breaking EU laws, even if the Government and Parliament are opposed.
An unprecedented ruling yesterday by the supreme court in Europe gives Brussels the power to introduce harmonised criminal law across the EU, creating for the first time a body of European criminal law that all member states must adopt. The judgment by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg was bitterly fought by 11 EU governments, including Britain, and marks a dramatic transfer of power from national capitals to Brussels.
Diplomats said that it was political dynamite in many countries, but the European Commission welcomed the ruling, on a test case about environmental law, as a landmark that sets an important precedent. It gives the Commission the right to decide when breaches of agreed policies are so serious that they should be treated as criminal.
The Commission said that it would use its new powers only in extreme circumstances, but its officials are already talking about introducing EU crimes for overfishing, deliberate polluting, money laundering and price fixing.
The Brussels Bandits are clearly getting too big for their breeches for many European leaders. Leaders in many EU countries are opposed to such overreaching of EU Federal Authority, citing sovereignty arguments that seem might familiar to many American. What is amazing is the potential promotion of nearly all criminal law across Europe the federal level of governance. While the Commission says that they will only "use its new powers only in extreme circumstances," we also now that government entities tend to have a very broad interpretation of extreme circumstances.
Given the uproar that has been caused by this "harmonisation", and given the recent defeat of the EU Constitution in France and other locations, it would not be out of the realm of possibility that the European Union may break apart long before it fully comes together. One diplomat in the Times story notes that the biggest opposition to such laws will come from countries like the UK, Italy, Holland, and Eastern Europe. These countries, in addition to having governments more conservative than most of Europe, are also the countries that will drive the EU Economic Engine of the Future. If they begin to pull away from Brussels, then all bets are off..
"Harmonisation" may be the beginning of the EU's Long Goodbye.