Sunday, November 18, 2012

Don't hear much about this

Yes, yes, yes, I am still avoiding the subject of Thursday's resounding victory won by the Sod Off Party. Even the sight of Lord Prescott (that well known socialist and egalitarian) drooping with fury and discontent as the victorious Conservative candidate speaks cannot inspire me enough to analyze it. Maybe tomorrow, if the dinner that celebrates 20 years of the Maastricht rebellion offers sufficient cheer.

Now then. Back to the House of Lords (where there was a Maastricht rebellion of its own). Lord Stoddart of Swindon (a good egg, as readers of this blog know) asked the following Written Question:
To ask Her Majesty's Government, further to the Written Statement by Lord McNally on 1 November regarding the European Union Justice and Home Affairs Council, what are the implications for the United Kingdom of the opt-ins to the Dublin (III) Regulations and the new EURODAC Package.
Before we look at the response we need to work out exactly what this is about and the best way of doing so is to have a look at the Written Statement made by Theresa May on November 1, about the Justice and Home Affairs Council held in Luxembourg on October 25 and 26. (In parenthesis, I may note that at least the Minister did attend. They don't always.)

The EURODAC Package is there to facilitate the provisions of the Dublin (III) Regulations, which as both the Statement and the reply to Lord Stoddart's question explain have to do with asylum seekers who make multiple applications in different EU member states.

Originally the UK had an opt-out but that has now been given up and we have opted in.
On the common European asylum system (CEAS), the presidency said that the reception conditions directive was due to be approved under the Council’s legislative items; only technical questions remained on the Dublin (III) regulation; negotiations with the European Parliament continued on asylum procedures, and COREPER had agreed the EURODAC package. The UK has opted in to the Dublin (III) regulation and the new EURODAC proposal. The UK has not opted in to the three other directives on reception conditions, asylum procedures and qualifications.
That was part of Mrs May's Statement. Lord Taylor of Holbeach's minions responded to Lord Stoddart:
The Dublin (III) and EURODAC (II) Regulations will between them govern the continued operation of the Dublin system by which member states determine who is responsible for dealing with an asylum claim. The Government are committed to the Dublin system, as it helps tackle the problem of people abusing asylum systems across Europe by making multiple claims in different EU member states. Since 2004 the Dublin system has enabled the UK to remove over 10,000 asylum applicants. This has resulted in significant financial savings and has also sent a powerful message that the UK can and will act against those who try to abuse our asylum system.
The Government will continue to consider the application of the UK's right to opt in to forthcoming EU legislation in the area of justice and home affairs on a case-by-case basis, with a view to maximising our country's security, protecting Britain's civil liberties and enhancing our ability to control immigration.
The point I should like to make here is that far from challenging various "European" bodies and authorities, far from seeking to repatriate power, far from giving Parliament more control, HMG continues to opt into various agreements to do with Justice and Home Affairs without bothering to make much of a song and dance about it. All in the name of " maximising our country's security, protecting Britain's civil liberties and enhancing our ability to control immigration". Of course.

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