By Vexen Crabtree 2016
European Union bodies such as Eurojust and Europol help us easily work with all other EU countries to combat terrorism and "to tackle international organised crime such as drug smuggling, people trafficking and money laundering"1. The EU is uniquely placed to be able to monitor terrorists' financial transactions, international fraud and the movement of criminals from country to country2. The European Arrest Warrant simplified the system for the UK to reach into Europe to prosecute criminals and sped up the process from a year to just 48 days on average1,3. Likewise as a member of the EU it is easier for other countries to extradite their criminals from the UK so they can face justice at their home countries' expense. In 2014, the UK made more requests for European Arrest Warrants than any other EU member4, and we are also the 4th largest user of Eurojust, requesting 107 cases5. A head of the UK's Association of Chief Police Officers warns that if we left the EU "criminals would see Britain as a safe haven ... as it would take longer to extradite them"6. And a former head of the Crown Prosecution Service in the UK says "we rely very heavily on the EU criminal justice measures [especially with] terrorism, people trafficking, cyber-crime, sexual exploitation, trafficking of children and paedophilia"7. The ability for EU member states to share information and co-ordinate responses in several countries at once is "vital to the UK's security"8. The more support we give the EU, the better its crime-fighting ability is, and, the more we get out of it in return, as one of the heaviest users of EU's judicial services. There are many such hidden benefits to being a member of the European Union.
The head of the Crown Prosecution Service in the UK, Sir Keir Starmer, who was also the Director of Public Prosecutions, says that "we rely very heavily on the EU criminal justice measures and when I say very heavily, I mean 24/7. I'm talking here about terrorism, people trafficking, cyber-crime, sexual exploitation, trafficking of children and paedophilia"7. The Independent, one of the UK's quality broadsheet newspapers, says that the ability for EU member states to share information and co-ordinate responses in several countries at once is "vital to the UK's security"8.
Eurojust "helps UK authorities work with other EU countries to tackle international organised crime such as drug smuggling, people trafficking and money laundering"1. It is an EU body established in 2002. In 2014 it was asked to help with 1804 cases, an increase on the previous year, notably in the areas of "drug trafficking, fraud, cybercrime, PIF crimes, illegal immigration, corruption and money laundering"2. The vast majority of these cases were additional to those which were in support of the European Arrest Warrant.
The UK is the fourth largest user of Eurojust, requesting 107 cases in 2014 (after Austria, Italy and Poland)5. One case involving the UK was raised by Italy in 2013, tracking the illegal movement of alcoholic drinks through several European countries using falsified Accompanying Documents. Most of it was destined for the UK, the total tax evaded was in the tens of millions of euros. Eurojust co-ordinated the actions of Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain and the UK. Several organized crime gangs (OCG) were involved, and carefully timed operations led to arrests of OCG leaders, many other involved criminals, and large scale seizures.9. During the execution of simultaneous raids against the gangs in multiple countries, it was found that a wanted UK resident had travelled to Spain the previous night. It was possible, due solely to the centralized governance of Eurojust and the EU politic, to request that Spanish authorities immediately locate the target. He was arrested as he disembarked from a plane. No individual country could have achieved this on their own, and it was made all the easier by the fact that all involved were EU members who were privy to Eurojust. To attempt all of this using bilateral agreements would be massively more expensive, too slow, and, in a world of international crime, going at them alone is simply not good enough. There are many such hidden benefits to being a member of the European Union.
For times when more than co-ordination is needed, Europol has 800 staff in The Hague (Netherlands), giving it "one of the largest concentrations of analytical capability in the EU. Our analysts use state-of-the-art tools to support Member States' investigations on a daily basis" and they assist in over 13 500 cases each year10. They specialize in serious international crime and terrorism in a way that individual member states struggle to do on their own. With such a pool of resources beneath it, Europol is a great asset to all EU member states.
Some people complain that the EU has expanded too far beyond its original remit and that the UK should only partake in economic agreements, not political or other ones. However, Europol is based on TREVI which has existed as part of the European Economic Community (the precursor to the EU) since 1975, the year in which a referendum was held on whether or not the UK should stay in the EEC11. Therefore, Europol already has a public mandate from the UK.
To track terrorists' bank accounts, criminal financial transactions, international fraud, the movement of criminals from country to country over land, sea and air is a complicated affair. The European Union is uniquely positioned as a body which is well-versed in European commerce and internationalism to oversee pan-European crime investigations, and to co-ordinate action against crime. In 2014, for example, it hosted a strategic seminar on co-operation in freezing and confiscating proceeds of crime2.
The stronger the EU is, the more organized, with all of its countries playing the same game, the greater its power against organized crime. It is more powerful with the UK as a member. As a member of the EU, the UK has more power to reach into Europe to catch criminals who impact on the UK.
It used to be the case that to extract wanted criminals from EU member states, the UK had to involve itself in state-by-state legal procedures which were long-winded, complicated, and different for every country1. The result is that catching international criminals required massive legal teams and lots of time. The European Arrest Warrant replaced parts of this with a single system for EU members, allowing them to call other member states to arrest suspects for a prosecution - they can't be used merely to aid investigation, which means citizens are protected from spurious accusations12. Legal battles were massively simplified and the whole system sped up3. This resulted in efficiency gains, and simpler and cheaper extraction procedures for the UK.1. On average, before the EU created the EAW, extraction of a criminal took one year. Now it takes just 48 days on average3.
Not only this, but as a member of the EU it is easier for other countries to extradite their criminals from the UK so that they can face justice, and prison, at their home countries' expense. That the UK is a member of the EU means, due to the centralized EAW procedures, other countries are more likely to apply to extradite criminals.
In 2014, the UK made more requests for European Arrest Warrants than any other EU member, allowing us to bring to justice criminals that were either based abroad, or who had fled abroad. The UK also received the greatest number of requests to arrest criminals wanted elsewhere, helping to keep our own streets safer.4
Sir Hugh Order, the former head of the UK's Association of Chief Police Officers warns that if we left the EU, "criminals would see Britain as a safe haven ... as it would take longer to extradite them"6.
The BBC highlights two high-profiles cases:
“There have been some high-profile successes for the EAW. Fugitive teacher Jeremy Forrest, who fled to France with a schoolgirl, was extradited to England on an EAW issued in September 2012. In 2005 an EAW enabled the UK to quickly extradite from Italy a fugitive bomber, Hussain Osman, who with accomplices had attempted to carry out a terror attack in London. In 2012 a murderer, Jason McKay, was arrested in Warsaw and sent back to the UK within a month.”
“The international nature of crime, and particularly the global threat of terrorism, means co-operation with our allies is a vital tool to keep us more secure. But we only get access to the European Arrest Warrant as a member of the EU - we would lose it if we left.
Using the European Arrest Warrant, we have removed over 7,000 suspected criminals to face justice across Europe - and over 1,000 suspects on our wanted list have been brought back to Britain to face justice. (Source: National Crime Agency). Hussain Osman, a terrorist involved in the July 2005 London bomb attacks, faced justice in Britain thanks to the European Arrest Warrant.”
Rogue traders come in all business shapes and business sizes; but worst of all are the largest organisations that abuse their influence in multiple spheres to artificially inflate prices, trick consumers and influence governments.
Modern large corporations can outmanouvre governments and therefore evade the law14. If one country tightens up quality control, industrial regulation or raises employee benefits, modern companies can easily move production abroad15. Governments are under pressure to not improve legislation.16. The heads of large companies have massive power over staff, employment, industry, national economies and the environment and yet are not elected nor publicly accountable for their actions (which are sometimes damaging to large numbers of people17). Supranational organisations like the UN and the EU provide a counterbalance. For example "the EU has taken on multinational giants like Microsoft, Samsung and Toshiba for unfair competition. The UK would not be able to do this alone"1. By encouraging governments to work in tandem, and because they are staffed by those on the pay roll of elected governments, such international politics can bring democracies back into power18,19.
“Nation-states, some argue, are too small to be able to influence global change, and too large to respond effectively to the pressures for increased flexibility and competitiveness, or as Giddens put it 'too small to solve the big problems, but also too large to solve the small ones'.”
We clearly need multinational governmental bodies to control multinational corporations. Not only will this bring capitalism back under the protective arms of democracy, but it will also solve the second problem identified by Held and Giddens: It will allow national governments to concentrate more on the small problems of national well-being.
This concept is discussed on this page: Multinational Corporations Versus Democracy: The Fight Between Commercialism and Nation States.
“The EU is also actively engaged in ensuring that the opportunities of the internal market are not undermined by rogue traders operating across borders. Enforcement agencies have agreed to act - where ever possible - in the name of all EU consumers, not just those in their own Member State.”
Department for Business and Innovation Skills (2010)21
Current edition: 2016 Mar 28
Last Modified: 2017 Jan 03
Parent page: UK Brexit from the EU: Disorganized, Unclear and Unprepared
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The Guardian. UK newspaper. See Which are the Best and Worst Newspapers in the UK?. Respectable and generally well researched UK broadsheet newspaper.
The Independent. UK newspaper. See Which are the Best and Worst Newspapers in the UK?. Respectable and generally well researched UK broadsheet newspaper.
(2016) Europe & You: South West. Published by The In Campaign Ltd, London, UK. Dated January / February 2016. A newspaper-style leaflet delivered to homes in the South West. This body resulted from debates surrounding UK's possible exit from the EU, with a vote being held in 2016 Jun 23.
Alston, Philip. Professor of Law at New York University and Director of its Center for Human Rights and Global Justice. Editor of the European Journal of International Law since 1997.
(2005, Ed.) Non-State Actors and Human Rights. Published by Oxford University Press. Academy of European Law. European University Institute in collaboration with the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, New York University School of Law. A hardback book.
(2016 Feb 04) What has the European Union ever done for us?. An Article in The Independent.
(2000) Sword and Scales: An Examination of the Relationship Between Law and Politics. Published by Hart Publishing Ltd, Oxford, UK. Prof. Loughlin is Professor of Law at the University of Manchester, UK, and Professor of Public Law-elect at the London School of Economics & Political Science, UK. A paperback book.