Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)

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Wednesday, March 30, 2005
The EU arrest warrant might cause governments to race to the bottom. Ed Lud writes:
Natalie, I was interested in your post about this.

It called to mind an article I saw in the Solicitors Journal about two years ago, which argued that the Arrest Warrant would introduce a 'fifth freedom' by the back to door.

No doubt you're aware of the so-called 'four freedoms' guaranteed by the European Union. Well, the argument in this article was that, whereas those freedoms essentially create a levelling-down effect as, for instance, labour or capital are capable of moving around the EU in response to market conditions, thereby (in theory) ensuring that unemployment stays low as workers move to find jobs, or that (again, in theory) capital can find its most efficient utilisation in the best market, the Arrest Warrant would create a levelling-up effect, where governments found themselves competing against one another to ensure that the criminal laws they passed were in no way 'surpassed' by those of other EU jurisdictions; which member state government, after all, would wish to defend the extradition of one of its citizens to another member state to face charges that they could not face in their country of origin?

In short, this fifth freedom would be the first to empower governments rather than private individuals or organisations. And, if I remember correctly, the article in the SJ claimed that this freedom of movement of criminal law - the process by which it would inevitably be levelled upwards as between member states - was explicitly foreseen and even encouraged by the framework treaty (Tampere, I think) which created it. So the problem will be not that, say, British subjects could be extradited to Greece to face charges of 'xenophobia' - which fear was being widely articulated a couple of years back - but that the British government would inevitably enact its own 'xenophobia' laws to prevent such extraditions.

Not good. Not good at all, in my humble.

With all best wotsits, Ed Lud