European Justice Agenda

Question Time — Scottish Executive — Justice and Law Officers – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:17 pm on 9th March 2006.

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Photo of Irene Oldfather Irene Oldfather Labour 2:17 pm, 9th March 2006

To ask the Scottish Executive how it is engaging with United Kingdom ministers to influence the European justice agenda. (S2O-9239)

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

The Scottish Executive is in regular contact with the United Kingdom Government on a wide variety of European Union-related issues and is represented as appropriate at meetings in Brussels, whether at working groups of officials or at councils at ministerial level. Last month, I joined UK Government ministers in representing the UK at the justice and home affairs council in Brussels, to take forward, among other issues, a pan-European approach to the fight against organised crime.

Photo of Irene Oldfather Irene Oldfather Labour

The minister is aware that the European arrest warrant has been in place for some time. Will she indicate what role the warrant is playing in tackling cross-border crime? Notwithstanding the progress that has been made, will she also give an assurance that further European measures to tackle crime, including the European evidence warrant, are consistent with the traditions and principles of Scots law?

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

Irene Oldfather makes an important point. The European arrest warrant is a vital tool in the fight against cross-border crime. Work is continuing on the European evidence warrant and the Scottish ministers are fully engaged in that work. We have provided information to our UK counterparts and we have made points to ensure that Scots law is protected. We have made strong representation that we require to operate on a basis of mutual co-operation, rather than alter our legislation. We will continue to take that approach.

Photo of Phil Gallie Phil Gallie Conservative

Does the minister recall that one of the Executive's EU priorities is an investigation into the European Court of Justice's decision on environmental protection? Is she aware that the Austrian presidency of the European Union has declared an ambition to stop the creeping influence of the European Court of Justice, although the presidency wants to extend the court's powers through articles I-7 and I-29 of the proposed constitution for Europe? What representations has the minister made to UK ministers on the issue?

Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Labour

As I said, the Executive is involved in a range of matters that relate to the justice and home affairs agenda. I am aware that the matter that Phil Gallie raises is up for consideration. However, it is for the Austrian Government, during the Austrian presidency of the European Union, to decide how to proceed. If Mr Gallie wishes further information on the issue, I will provide it to him. I am sure that he will find that useful, given that he intends to seek a career in the European Parliament at some point.