From Socialist Voice, February 2007

Germany proposes police alliance across EU borders

Police would be allowed to pursue criminals across EU borders and have access to each other’s confidential data-bases under a proposal to be tabled this month. The plan was aired informally by the German government at a meeting in January of EU justice and home affairs ministers in Dresden.
     The German government said it had won agreement in principle to press forward with a formal proposal in February from all EU member-states, despite reservations over the costs and the legal basis expressed by Britain, Ireland, Poland, and the Czech Republic.
     The proposal—which requires unanimous support to come into effect—would allow police forces direct access to other countries’ data-bases of fingerprints, car registration numbers, and DNA profiles. It would also allow the police to operate in other member-states, for example when chasing suspects, and provide the basis for joint patrols.
     Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Luxembourg have had a similar scheme, under the Prum Treaty of 2005. Since then four more countries have agreed to join, and the plan is to extend it by common agreement to all twenty-seven member-states.
     The fate of the German initiative will be watched closely, not just because of its relevance for police co-operation but also because it offers a new approach towards finding agreement in secret and without a popular mandate. EU measures touching on justice and security normally demand unanimity. By pressing ahead with a small group of member-states on the basis of a multilateral treaty, Germany and its partners managed to escape cumbersome negotiations at the EU level. This selective approach is simply another way of circumventing the democratic process and implementing important aspects of the rejected constitution by stealth.

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