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January 29, 2005

Immigration and Asylum Seekers.

Following the kerfuffle last week over who has the power to determine policy over immigration and asylum seekers, I received a response to my post here. In full, in italics, with my commentary, the email, in a personal capacity, from the  Director General, Justice Freedom and Security,
European Commission

Re your comment "Just How Much of our Law Comes From Europe?
Interesting little blow up yesterday about immigration and asylum seekers. The
opposition party in a sovereign nation decides to  concentrate on those two
subjects as part of the ramp up to elections in a few months time. Within
hours, a supra-national authority states that whatever you say, think, laws
you pass, does not matter, for we are the people with power in this matter.
It does beg the question, is that nation actually sovereign in any
meaningful way if it is not allowed the most basic of powers, that to decide
who may enter the nation?"

That’s the part of my previous post that he wishes to comment upon.



The Commission does not make laws on these issues in the EU. The Council of
Ministers, including of course British ministers, legislates.

One of the things wrong with the project of course. Legislatures legislate. The Council of Ministers is where the horsetrading goes on. The actual legislature, the European Parliament, has, incredible as it may seem to those used to the basic procedures of a free country, no powers whatsoever to initiate legislation. That is reserved to the Commission, passing through the Council before being passed or not by the Parliament.
In essence, if the Commission doesn’t propose it it ain’t gonna happen. If it does, it probably will although not certainly.

Member States decide for themselves how many immigrants they admit.

OK, granted.

Asylum is governed by international law, most specifically the Geneva
Convention of 1951. There are recently agreed EU directives making a modest
start on the creation of a common asylum system, within the agreed
international framework.

As it stands at the moment we can leave that treaty committment. At least we could, until the recently agreed changes, which is what everyone is whining about. We can’t, any more, as we could under the Geneva rules, opt out of all or part any more, for we are about to be bound by further EU rules. The point really. A sovereign nation can sign up to treaties, sure. It can also leave them. Except when the big brothers at the EU get involved apparently.

The point of the EU is that  some sovereignty is best exercised

I realise that you need to believe that in order to be able to cash your pay cheque each month. You’d be amazed at the number of people who don’t believe it though. There is not one single matter, one single area of policy or legislation where sovereignty is better exercised collectively even in philosophic terms, let alone in the delightful realities such as the CAP, CFP, frauds and cheating that we actually get.
I will accept that the free movement of goods, people and capital are good to have. We had the latter two before, 1870-1914 and managed without a supra-national body to "run" it, the  first is properly the province of the WTO.
So, sorry, I don’t accept the basic premise.

In an open territory within which it is easy to travel, EU countries have
understood that migration should be managed together.

The UK is not part of Schengen, people have to show their passports to get in. We can manage it on our own thank you.

The EU has the political and legal mechanisms for that purpose.

Political mechanisms? There is no European Demos, thus no politics of any kind that can be called remotely democratic. Legal mechanisms?  It has one court which takes 5 years to get to. OK, OK, you can call that a mechanism if you want to and those enlargment pills advertised by email really work too.

The EU is is not a detached supra-national authority; it is all of us
deciding together on matters of common concern.

Us, We, get no chance to decide anything. You get to decide a lot, set the agenda. Ministers get to cull the verbiage a bit, the Parliament has a veto power (although given the details of how that place works, for example, legislation not failing at the end of a session, bills now, in the new P, having their second and third readings when the first was in the old one....this isn’t how a Parliament works in the real world) but we the poor bloody citizens continue to have the social democratic nightmare thrust down our throats. I would also point out that "All of us deciding together on matters of common concern" is a pretty lousy way to run a continent. What to have for dinner is a matter which everyone individually is concerned with but no one, outside N Korea, really believes that we should decide it collectively. Except, well, your colleagues who write the food regulations. I am so grateful that someone has decided that jam may not contain lemon oil but may contain carrots. A stunning contribution to human welfare I call it, well worth 1.2% of GDP.

Once laws are made, they should be applied. That is the rule of law.

Indeed it is. Budgets should be audited, crooks punished, looters of public money jailed, countries which sign up to stabilization programmes kept to them, fined as the law allows, indeed insists upon, illegal state aid should be stopped, milk subsidies repaid, those who lie to get into currency systems thrown out.
Ooops! Sorry I was describing a free and rational world there wasn’t I? How naive and Anglo-Saxon of me. Just can’t do nuance.
We also retain a modicum of freedom, that pesky little thing called jury trial (whatever Clarke’s attempts to get rid of it) the entire point of which is that if the Jury thinks that the law is an ass they can acquit. As they sometimes do. Dastardly plot by us Anglos eh? Must be why Eurojust won’t use that system.

There would be no point in having EU rules if the members were then free to
do something different.

As above.
Then again, I don’t think you’ve really looked around this site very much. There is no point in having EU rules as there is no point in having an EU. This post might help get the idea across:
Ceterum censeo Unionem Europaeam esse delendam


Yours in a private capacity (but I will not conceal my job, which is of
course directly relevant to these matters),

Jonathan Faull

Director General Justice Freedom and Security
European Commission

I must say thank you for your email but may I explain a little bit about these blog things? The idea is that debate is public, that’s what the comments sections are for. I look forward to your thoughts.

January 29, 2005 in European Union | Permalink


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Tim this is great I am going to copy and publish on my blog (with reference and acknowledgement of course) First class, I doubt you will get an answer though.

Posted by: Alex Dakers | Jan 29, 2005 6:59:36 PM

With a name like his, I assume he's British?

To live in that world, eh? What will we do with such people when we get out?

Incidentally, "sovereignty" and "collectively" seem to me to go together like "pregnant" and "a bit."

Posted by: Blimpish | Jan 29, 2005 10:26:21 PM

cant u just take Director General Haw Haw out an hang im?

its teh eerie brainles vegetible inevatability of teh thign that gets 2 me. its teh blob! onwerd it creps! u cant shoot it. u cant run form it. u cant reson whit it.

Posted by: HA HA HA | Jan 30, 2005 9:51:01 PM