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Democrat - November-December 2007 (Number 105)

House of Commons EU Scrutiny Committee says:

Britain will be subject to
"new and unquantifiable risks"
from EU Constitution
and 'red-lines' will not work

House of Commons European scrutiny committee

The Commons European Scrutiny Committee has warned in a new report that Britain would face "new and unquantifiable risks" as a result of the revised EU Constitution, arguing Britain's 'red lines' would not provide adequate protection.

The report notes that "There will be a steady transfer of jurisdiction to the Commission and the European Court of Justice in the areas of civil and criminal justice. These matters should be debated on the floor of the House before the treaty is signed."

Committee Chairman Michael Connarty added that Britain's "opt-ins" on justice and home affairs matters would surrender jurisdiction from Britain's courts: "Although the Government has secured the right to opt-in in respect of justice and home affairs matters, it is clear that if the Government opts in on any measure, ultimate jurisdiction will transfer from the UK courts." He said that choosing not to opt-in would present "new and unquantifiable risks".

The report called into question the Government's claim that the controversial EU Charter of Fundamental Rights would not affect UK law: "We express doubts on the effectiveness of the protocol on the Charter of Fundamental Rights and do not consider that it guarantees that the Charter can have no effect on the law of the United Kingdom when it is combined with consideration of the implementation of Union law."

The Committee also criticised the lack of opportunity for proper parliamentary scrutiny and debate before the treaty was signed: "The process could not have been better designed to marginalise the role of national parliaments and to curtail public debate, until it has become too late for such debate to have any effect on the agreements which have been reached."

The Committee's report can be found here.