EU: Vetoes, Opt-outs and EU Immigration and Asylum law (1)

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- Statewatch briefing - revised 23 December

The British media in particular have focussed on the extent to which the ‘Hague Programme’, the multi-annual programme for Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) law and policy approved by the EU summit meeting (European Council) on 5 November 2004, will change the current system for vetoes and opt-outs from EU immigration and asylum law, particularly for the UK. The purpose of this briefing, by Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex, is to outline:

a) the current extent of Member States’ national vetoes over EU immigration and asylum law;
b) the extent to which the UK (along with Ireland and Denmark) can ‘opt-out’ of EU immigration and asylum law;
c) the links between (a) and (b), especially for the UK, Ireland and Denmark;
d) the extent to which the ‘Hague Programme’ will affect the current position; and
e) the impact of the proposed EU Constitution on these issues.

An Annex to this briefing sets out the possible practical implications of the change in decision-making agreed as part of the Hague Programme for specific pieces of legislation.

See: EU: At the Agriculture and Fisheries Council today (22.12.04) in Brussels the Council adopted a Decision on the transition to qualified majority voting and codecision procedure for certain areas covered by Title IV of Part Three of the Treaty establishing the European Community. The Decision will take effect as from 1 January 2005: Full -text of the decision (15226/04).

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