In an article which appeared yesterday in the Daily Telegraph Philip Johnston wrote that Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, told a Commons select committee hearing last week that he is fighting a concerted attempt by the Commission in Brussels to “Europeanise” our legal and justice system. One can but presume Grayling is referring to this press release of 7th October, which in turn refers to this two-day forum and this speech by Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, EU Justice Commissioner.
It is possible that the remarks by Grayling are but an attempt to dramatise, for political effect, something that is a long way off – and in any event this article by Johnston would appear to be a re-hash of an article that appeared in the Daily Mail last month and upon which Richard North, EU Referendum, commented.
However, that something is afoot, as they say, cannot I believe be denied; especially bearing in mind the two-day forum being held on 21/22nd November at the Assises de la Justice - a forum on EU justice policies – which seeks to generate ideas which will contribute directly to shaping the European Union’s justice policy. Among the speakers will be Joshua Rozenberg, Ms M. Mcgowan QC (UK), Barrister, Chairman of the Bar Council of England and Wales; and Lord Mance (UK), Justice of The Supreme Court. Also it should be remembered that Barroso wrote to Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament on 11th September, in which letter, among possible initiatives was listed A Communication on future initiatives in the field of Justice and Home Affairs policies.
Today sees the European Commission adopting its work programme for 2014 which will set out the key new initiatives for 2014 and will also highlight the priority items for adoption by the co-legislators before the European Parliament elections in May 2014. A press release and the work programme have been promised following adoption and it would be surprising, to say the least, were there to be no mention of Justice and Home Affairs contained therein.
It is necessary to repeat that, as Richard North wrote, at the moment all this is but an aspiration of the Commission and that were it to be pursued to its logical end then an IGC would have to be held as it would involve ‘treaty change’ and a referendum in the UK.