EU opt-out ‘could damage security’

Opting out of European police and justice measures could have “significant negative repercussions” for Britain’s security, peers warned as they accused ministers of failing to make a “convincing case”.

A report by the House of Lords EU committee said it was particularly concerned about the impact of the UK withdrawing from the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) – insisting the alternatives were inadequate. And it said the Government had failed to consult properly on the issue.

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Under the 2007 Lisbon Treaty, the Government has until May 2014 to exercise an opt-out from a package of 133 measures including the EAW. Home Secretary Theresa May has indicated that the Government plans to repatriate the powers – then negotiate fresh deals on some elements.

But the committee warned that renegotiating would be “time consuming and uncertain” and could leave “gaps and legal uncertainties” during any transition.

Alternatives to the EAW would be as prone to the “serious injustices” which had occurred in cases involving the existing system, they said.