Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the EU-wide arrest warrant, extremely helpful in fighting terrorism and organised crime – which, I think we can all agree, is largely cross-border these days.
And – please note – on this occasion a suspected terrorist mastermind has been let free thanks to the wishy-washy weaknesses of a mere national government – not through want of EU efforts. You can’t pin this one on the European Union (though I have no doubt that the usual suspects at the usual blogs will try).
More discussions of the problems of the arrest warrant at the International Herald Tribune are also worth a look. This affects you too, you know – Slovenia could extradite you tomorrow under this agreement. Probably.
The fact that this arrest warrant has been deemed to go against the German and Polish constitutions and to violate suspects’ basic rights is neither here nor there – after all, if they’ve got nothing to hide they’ve got nothing to fear, right?
(I really can’t tell if I’m being sarcastic any more – this is a good thing for proving the effectiveness of closer integration, but it’s a bad thing for civil liberties, but it could make us all safer, but it could be used to lock us all up, but… My brain hurts again.)
Update: Just noticed – this story gives a prime opportunity to compare and contrast news coverage to check for bias. Let’s see…
EU Observer (run by a sceptic) – Terror suspect freed on European warrant glitch – taking “European” as a synonym for “The European Union”, as many headline writers do, this would tend to suggest it’s the EU’s fault.
Compare to the pro-EU Guardian – Germany blocks extradition of al-Qaida suspect – factual, no confusing reference to “Europe”.
That Scotsman article linked above, from a traditionally strongly Eurosceptic paper, opts for the sensible, factual Setback as German court bars al-Qaeda suspect’s extradition. Unusual, as they’re normally only too happy to have a dig.
The Financial Times, meanwhile – seemingly unable to make up its mind about the EU these days – plays it safe and goes for both headlines: first (possibly via Reuters) German court rules EU arrest warrant invalid, again bringing the EU up in the context of a failure in an apparent attempt to sully it by association, then Germany sets free suspected al-Qaeda financier – a more honest approach, as the EU actually has precious little to do with this story, other than as a possible way to prevent such a thing happening again.
Finally, the sceptic Telegraph has a not so subtle dig: Al-Qa’eda suspect freed as Germany rules EU extradition warrant illegal – note the cunning implication, by the use of the stronger “illegal” in place of the FT’s “invalid” that this is somehow the EU’s fault for proposing a dodgy law, rather than Germany’s fault for bollocking up the implementation?
If anyone spots any more interesting coverage of this story, let me know.
Update 2: Yesterday’s headspack means I’m behind. The usual suspects have already latched onto it.
First up Ken at EU Realist seeing this ruling as the herald of the collapse of all international treaties and the the beginning of the end for EU Law. Wishful thinking there, old chap – that’d only be the case if every member state had the same legal situation of Germany. If they did, there’d be no need for legal rulings at an EU level as we’d already all be in perfect harmony.
Next, the increasingly barking Helen Szamuely at EU Referendum. Interesting how here the al Quaeda suspect of everyone else’s coverage becomes “a half-Syrian, half-German businessman whose Import-Export Company is suspected of being a front for a money-laundering operation to provide funds for terrorists” – with little mention of how high up the wanted list he is or how important his financial dealings as thought to be. Because, hey, if the EU’s trying to screw him over, he must be OK, right? Oh, and look – Ken “filthy communist” Livingstone’s said he’s dodgy, so he must be OK (for some reason).
In other words, smoke and mirrors to detract from the central point which is that, had the German government implemented the legislation correctly, EU legislation would have enabled the detention and trial of a man strongly suspected of funding terrorism. As it is, the sovereign courts old Helen praises so much have let a suspected terrorist fundraiser continue unimpeded, and she offers no practical suggestions for preventing this from occurring again.
But as she then starts drooling with conspiracy theories about the secret service aiding terrorists (whereby somehow because terrorists exist – erm… the EU’s bad, m’kay?), I think it’s probably best to back away slowly, smiling gently, and try not to make any sudden movements…