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May 'opts out' of EU justice laws

May 'opts out' of EU justice laws

Theresa May has told MPs that the Government's "current thinking" is to opt out of all European law and order measures, invoking powers secured by Tony Blair in the Lisbon Treaty.

The Coalition has agreed to opt out of 130 measures in 2014, when individual national vetoes are ended in this area, before opting back in to measures which it regards as “in the national interest”.

"I can announce today that the Government’s current thinking is we will opt out of all pre-Lisbon police and criminal justice measures, and then negotiate with the Commission and other member states to opt back in to those measures which it is in our national interest to join,” the Home Secretary told MPs. 

"However, discussions are ongoing within government and therefore no formal notification will be given to the Council until we have reached agreement on the measures that we wish to opt back into."

She said ministers would consider each of the measures carefully, before putting the whole package before Parliament for a vote.

But Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper hit out at the Government’s “utterly chaotic position”, saying today’s announcement was illustrative of ministers’ “complete confusion” over Europe.

“They haven’t actually told us anything today, at all. This is completely confused,” Ms Cooper said.

“The Home Secretary has said she is setting out the Government’s current thinking. The current thinking could presumably change tomorrow, and then it could be something else entirely. The Home Secretary said she wants to opt out of some things, but then maybe she might actually opt back in to all of it all over again.

“Out and in and in and out. It’s like the Government is playing a giant game of hokey-cokey and yet the fight against crime is at stake.”

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