The government’s indecision over whether or not to opt in to more than 130 EU criminal law measures owes more to ‘political impetus’ than the desire to see good law, CCBE criminal law committee chair Ilias Anagnostopoulos told the Gazette.

He urged the UK to play a ‘major role’ in improving these measures and be a ‘positive influence’ on the rest of Europe, rather than opting out.

Under the Lisbon Treaty, the UK must decide by 31 May 2014 whether or not to subscribe to a block of more than 130 EU police and criminal law measures. If the UK decides not to opt out, then from 1 December 2014 these criminal law measures become subject to the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union and the enforcement powers of the European Commission.

Anagnostopoulos said that the UK should focus on the ‘positive aspects’ of opting in and ‘work to improve the negative aspects’.

He said there are ‘human rights safety valves’ to prevent the European arrest warrant and other measures from being executed inappropriately. ‘But additional guarantees are still required around proportionality,’ he said.

The 130 measures include freezing money launderers’ assets, the supervision of bail conditions in an offender’s home country and the mutual execution of monetary sanctions.

Ireland’s James MacGuill endorsed Anagnostopoulos’s words. MacGuill said: ‘Opting out would make the UK a haven for criminals and discourage Europe and the US from doing business there.’