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Andrew Tettenborn: Arrest warrant should top the bonfire of meddling European laws


(In the latest of a series of alternative manifesto ideas on TCW, Andrew Tettenborn sets out his ideas for repealing EU-inspired laws)

Ever found yourself with so many goodies that you have to ration yourself so as to avoid having too many at once? TCW readers may find themselves in that situation as soon as we have the Great Repeal Act on the statute book.

For those who haven’t been following events, the effect of this will be – at last – to repeal the European Communities Act 1972, which gives EU law precedence over our own. It will transpose all existing Euro-law into UK legislation, and crucially give a power to the government to remove laws originating in Brussels by executive order. This could potentially be interesting, since presumably once the Act is in force the government can start immediately issuing orders to take effect on 30 March 2019 or whenever Independence Day may happen to fall.

Sometimes repeal by a stroke of the pen won’t be possible, where Euro-law has simply replaced our law completely. For instance, the mess the EU has made of regulations about slaughterhouses, or the shambles that is the CAP, can’t just be removed because there would be nothing in their place. But there are things we can get rid of now. Here are a few appetisers for Brexit Secretary David Davis and his merry band of civil servants looking for a bit of pleasure before business.

Start with the European arrest warrant: the rule that allows EU states to insist on extradition even if the alleged misconduct isn’t an offence here and without satisfying any judge that there is even a prima facie case against the accused. Both those requirements apply to any other state with which we have an extradition treaty. All we have to do is say that from Independence Day you don’t get any special treatment merely because you are a functionary from Bucharest rather than Berne.

Next, the Common Fisheries Policy, in so far as it allows any vessel to fish in the UK Exclusive Economic Zone by virtue of being owned or registered in the EU. There’s no reason this should continue for one moment beyond Independence Day, and we owe it to our fishermen that it shouldn’t.

Third, what about the great wet wadge of environmental legislation? Start with the ground water directive. This is fine with countries like Belgium and Holland, where polluted water can seep across national land boundaries, but except for Northern Ireland (where there might have to be special arrangements) we don’t have any.

Move on to the renewables obligation, especially as the jury is out on just how enviro-virtuous thosepesky wind-farms actually are. It might be a good idea to make our consumers pay more for energy made from sunbeams or whatever, or it might not. But the decision should be our consumers’, not the EU’s apparatchiks’. And while we’re about it, why not the climate and energy package, and the air quality directive (you know, the one that sets levels of NO2 below world levels, demonises diesel cars and causes the government to be repeatedly taken to court and ordered to come up with a solution by yesterday)?

Again, even if we are in breach the effect on the rest of the EU is minimal, and the decision what to do about it should be ours, not that of the EU or some judge applying EU law. Come to think of it, it’s not entirely clear why the rest of the EU should have any concern with our bathing beaches either, if our citizens prefer lower council tax and water rates to a squeaky-clean beach. Might as well add that to the bonfire too.

And that’s without all the other multifarious pettinesses. Horse passports (didn’t you know every horse in the kingdom has to have a microchip and passport – in case it passes into the hands of the vast numbers of people here who like eating horse?). Heavy-duty vacuum-cleaners and incandescent bulbs (if you want to spend more on electricity that’s your business). Fireworks, recently denied to a veteran’s parade by interfering EU busybodies.

And so on and so forth: add any other ideas to the Comments. This has the potential to be quite a long and pleasurable list. And certainly one with the ability to make the next government seriously popular.

(Image: News Oresund)

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Andrew Tettenborn
Andrew Tettenborn
Andrew Tettenborn is a professor of commercial law at a well-known UK university, who also teaches in Europe and elsewhere. In the 2001 General Election he stood as Ukip’s candidate in Bath.

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