Reforming or Exiting the European Arrest Warrant must be part of Brexit

Reforming or Exiting the European Arrest Warrant must be part of Brexit

It has been nearly three months since 23rd June. During that time, much has been said about the outcome of the vote: some have gone out of their way to deny its legitimacy and the voice of the democratic majority. What the vote does represent, however, is an opportunity. An opportunity to embrace a new relationship with the European Union and its member states, along with leading the world in producing a free market future that produces prosperity, jobs and inward investment.

In this, David Davis has a key role to play. The new Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union is an experienced, knowledgeable and well-liked politician who played a vital role in securing the Leave vote in June. He now has the opportunity to make this a reality.

There are many things that are wrong with our relationship with the European Union. The customs union that adds import duties on products from outside the EU and the democratic deficit that suffocates Parliamentary democracy, to name but two. But within this relationship there are also troubling elements that undermine our legal freedom – and none more so than the European Arrest Warrant (EAW).

Introduced through the 2003 Extradition Act by the then Labour government, this piece of legislation was initially designed to speed up the transfer of terrorist suspects and those accused of “high crimes” to face justice across Europe. Its problem, however, is that – like the EU itself – it assumes that every EU member state is equal. This means that the UK legal system is said to be equal to ex-Communist states such as Bulgaria, Poland and Romania – and that through the EAW people can be surrendered to these countries with ease.

The fact is though that these systems – and others such as Greece – are not of the same as that of the UK’s. None of these countries, for instance, have the traditions of Habeas Corpus and other principles that are deeply enshrined in English and Welsh law. This has been made clear in a new booklet, Why the UK should Reform or Exit the European Arrest Warrant: Problems and Excesses of the Romanian Anti­-Corruption Fight, published by The Hampden Trust, The Freedom Association and the Economic Policy Centre, which brings a number of cases of concern to the fore. This is compounded by other cases, such as that of London resident Alexander Adamescu, which has been profiled by Stephen Pollard in The Spectator, mentioned by Peter Oborne in the Daily Mail, and illustrates a number of deep and ongoing problems with Romania’s justice system in particular.

But the European Arrest Warrant is not a new subject area for Mr Davis, who has been a long-standing opponent of the system. Indeed, he opposed its introduction as Shadow Home Secretary and also its reintroduction when the UK opted back into it in 2014. He has raised deep concerns about it both in Parliament and in an article for the Sunday Times, and even described it as “faulty” in a speech to the Chartered Institute of Engineers – later published on his own website – in February of this year.

So, in his new position, Mr Davis has the potential to right the wrongs of the past and embrace a new relationship with the EU. In doing so, he can help save our legal freedoms and protect those living in the UK from injustice. I sincerely hope he takes this opportunity.