The Maastricht Treaty introduced little known aspects of EU integration referred to as "co-operation between member states in justice and home affairs". Under these provisions Europol, a Europe wide police force is being created. It has very wide powers but is not answerable to any elected body. It reports to a special committee appointed by the Council of Ministers. It exists ostensibly to fight crime, but it has a much wider function. Not only will it collect and store information on known and suspected criminals, but also on anyone's political and religious beliefs and activities. (The building up of large databases is specifically provided for under the Maastricht Treaty) Europol is now empowered to form its own anti-terrorist squad with access to information held by MI5 and MI6. Europol personnel have immunity from prosecution.



The same co-operation provisions are also resulting in a massive EU wide increase in the use of surveillance cameras in towns and cities – again supposedly to reduce crime. (Guardian 25/1/99 –" Little known EU proposals could soon lead to massive expansion of surveillance"). This is enthusiastically endorsed by local councils and the public for protection against crime, but for the authorities, these can also be used to identify anyone and monitor their activities and movements. With the introduction of driving licences with photographs and passport photographs, which are duplicated in central computer banks, it will be possible through image comparison to identify anyone in seconds. Speed check cameras, now common on many roads, by reading a number plate can also track the movement of any vehicle across the country.


If you go on any sort of protest march or demonstration, you will be filmed on video cameras by police or security personnel. Big Brother is watching you more and more... and he can also listen to you via the Echelon communications monitoring system run by the American "National Security Agency" operating out of bases at Morwenstow, Cornwall and Menwith Hills, North Yorkshire. This system monitors telephone, fax and e-mail communications throughout Europe and elsewhere. It is programmed to lock on to a particular communication for analysis if certain "key" words are used in that communication. If you carry a mobile phone, even when switched off it emits a radio signal to the nearest base station. With the co-operation of the mobile phone companies, your movements can be tracked.

The Observer (6/12/98 – "EU hatches plan to tap internet and mobile phones") reported on Enfopol 98, a plan requiring telecommunications companies to build tapping connections into every kind of communications system including mobile phones , the internet, fax machines, pagers and interactive cable TV services. Arising out of this, last year the government rushed through the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which gives the police and security services the power to monitor internet mailing lists. They are also able to order internet service providers to give them access to peoples’ private E-mail. All this is claimed to be targeted at organised crime such as drug trafficking, paedophilia, terrorism etc., but it takes little imagination to see how this could be applied to any form of dissent or protest movement.



We are now getting legislation that limits the right of people to gather peaceably, (e.g. the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994) and intrudes into privacy with increased powers of bugging and burgling for the security services, and even provides for detention without trial. The first example of this in Britain are detention provisions for those said to be "mentally disturbed" and as a result "a danger to themselves or the public". Who will decide what constitutes being mentally disturbed and a threat to the public..? or perhaps those running the state – especially in view of the fact that Europol keeps files on peoples’ political and religious activities. The 2000 Terrorism Act widened the definition of terrorism enormously to include the threat of "serious violence" against any person or property. How will this definition be interpreted? It could clearly be used against people who tear up genetically modified crops, but might these provisions ever be used against, for example, protesting farmers where scuffles and damage to property has occurred occasionally? The Act goes further - organisations can be "outlawed" - addressing a meeting at which there is a member of such an organisation is an offence. There are additional stop and search powers for the police, and expressing support can be treated as "incitement". All newly created terrorist offences carry very severe penalties, as part of a process which seems set to create a state in which no dissent of any description will be tolerated. The provisions for co-operation in justice and home affairs between member states introduced by the Maastricht Treaty, and made mandatory by the Amsterdam Treaty, are designed to ensure that the same measures are brought into force throughout the EU. A new even wider EU definition of terrorism is now proposed – any act of intimidation by an individual or group with the intention of seriously altering… political economic or social structures. This could cover almost any public order situation. Additionally, there is to be the freezing of assets not just for drug trafficking, money laundering and EU budget fraud, but now also for "terrorism" as defined above. It will be possible for orders to be made on suspicion only and it will be for the individual to prove he acquired his assets lawfully, not for the state to prove he didn’t.


As well as this increase in repressive legislation, far reaching changes are planned for our criminal justice system itself, which is fundamentally different to that employed throughout the rest of the EU (except Ireland). As part of the continuing emergence of the single European state, the European Commission and the European Parliament are pressing for the imposition of a uniform system throughout the EU known as Corpus Juris. However, if Corpus Juris were to be fully implemented in Britain, all criminal prosecutions would be heard solely by judges or other professional paid officials appointed by the state.

Trial by jury would have to be phased out, to be replaced by a single judge sitting alone. Jack Straw’s recent attempts to get legislation through Parliament reducing those cases where an accused can demand trial by jury, should be seen as the start of this process. In addition a Home Office report has recommended that lay magistrates should be replaced by stipendiary (i.e. professional paid) magistrates, another measure that clearly fits in with the Corpus Juris plan. In both cases the government claims the measures are simply in the interests of efficiency and cost effectiveness, which is very misleading. The involvement of ordinary people in the judicial process as magistrates and jurors is fundamental to our system and goes back hundreds of years - it is designed to protect the citizen against the risk of arbitrary or malicious prosecution, and is a healthy feature in any democracy.

Corpus Juris would also introduce detention without trial, since under this continental system, a person suspected of an offence can be arrested and held in custody for a period of six months or more, pending such further investigations and enquiries as the public prosecutor sees fit, before being brought before a court. This is radically different from our own system of Habeas Corpus (which has its origins as far back as Magna Carta of 1215), whereby an accused person must be brought before a court within a very short period of arrest, and evidence against the arrested person produced. Furthermore, our current system incorporates the rule against double jeopardy, whereby an accused person once acquitted cannot be brought before a court again for the same offence. The government has proposed that this shall be removed – perhaps reasonable in certain very carefully defined instances, but the proposal must be seen as a further part of the introduction of Corpus Juris. The new Anti-terrorism Crime and Security bill presently before parliament, if passed, will give the right to the Home Secretary to make changes like these to our court system by regulation, rather than by a bill requiring full parliamentary debate.

A European public prosecutor has been appointed and will have authority in Britain and throughout the EU, initially only in respect of cases involving fraud against the EU budget (e.g. people who make dishonest claims for EU grants and subsidies etc.) This is now being extended via Eurojust an agency which will have powers of investigation in all member states of the EU.


Under provisions in the new Nice Treaty signed at the heads of governments conference at the end of last year, an old European defence pact known as Western European Union is to be incorporated into the European Union itself. Previously, at the Helsinki summit in December 1999, agreement was reached for an army of 60,000 soldiers to be set up along with command, planning and intelligence bases. This is claimed to be a "rapid reaction force", but clearly these measures lays the foundation for an EU Army, hailed by German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer as another pillar in the process of European unification. Commission President Romano Prodi has confirmed as much. However, significantly, French PM Lionel Jospin has stated that "by pooling its armies, Europe will be able to maintain internal security as well as prevent conflicts throughout the world..". Indeed, Foreign Office sources indicate that the setting up of a 5000 strong internal emergency reaction force was approved at the EU summit at Feira, Portugal in June last year. In many parts of the EU, riot police with tear gas and water cannon are used as a matter of course to confront even peaceful protests. Will we see the use of such measures here?


On 13/4/00 the European Parliament approved the Dimitrakopoulos-Leinen Report, article 6 of which provides for the setting up of EU wide political parties. However, this is subject to the proviso that "parties that do not respect human rights and democratic principles as set out in the Treaty of Rome shall be the subject of suspension proceedings in the European Court of Justice". Despite the rhetoric in its preamble, the Treaty of Rome is not in based on democratic principles, but rather on European integration. Could these new provisions therefore be used to "suspend" (i.e. effectively ban) any political party opposed to the EU? The banning of political parties is a dangerous road to go down in a democracy - it is worth noting that the Soviet Union never abolished elections- the ruling Communist party simply outlawed all other parties as "fascist" or "counter revolutionary" and maintained itself in power that way!


We would never accept the sudden imposition of a totalitarian police state, so if it is to be done, it has to be done gradually by stealth, one step at a time. These various measures should not be seen in isolation. Many people quite close to the top positions of power may not be aware of the full picture – MPs and others do not have time to become familiar with the whole range of bills and proposals that are put before parliament. The security and intelligence services are not answerable to Parliament and their activities remain hidden from view in the interests of so called "national security". You might think … it could never happen here, we live in a democracy, our leaders are good upstanding people fighting for freedom and justice in the world, or so they and the media would have us believe… History shows that all power tends to corrupt, but absolute power corrupts absolutely. Our freedoms are being gradually eroded… what will come next? With real power vested in unelected and unaccountable commissioners, bankers and bureaucrats, democratic principles are already alien to the EU. Are the building blocks being put into place whereby soon we could find ourselves living in a dictatorship in which protest will become increasingly difficult and ultimately will not be tolerated? The horrors of 11/9/01are being used as the excuse to introduce the latest proposals, but it seems clear the measures are designed much more to increase control, surveillance and curtail personal liberties throughout the EU, rather than to protect us all from genuine terrorism. The European Commission Forward Planning Unit said in 1996 "It will be difficult to achieve political union without there being the perception of an external political threat – a terrorist outrage would contribute to a perception of an external threat…"

Richard Greaves "The Old Stables", Cusop, Herefordshire, HR3 5RQ Tel: 01497 821406.

E-mail: Updated: November 2001