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Justice Programme

Volume 542: debated on Thursday 22 March 2012

The Government on 16 March decided not to opt in to the European Commission’s proposed regulation establishing for the period 2014-20 the justice programme.

The stated objectives of the Commission’s proposal are to promote judicial co-operation in civil and criminal matters, to facilitate access to justice and to prevent and reduce drug supply and demand.

Funding schemes have been operated by the EU for many years, and are an established non-legislative mechanism to promote cross-border cooperation on specific issues. The Government support such instruments in principle, and particularly action which leads to more effective implementation and to effective evaluation of EU law, providing they add value and fill a gap which is not met either through other EU work or by the member states.

Although there are some aspects of the proposal that could be welcomed, the Government are not satisfied on the value for money of the programme as a whole.

The Government recognise that this decision will have an impact on organisations that have received funding under the predecessors of this scheme. They intend to participate in the negotiations so that a post-adoption opt-in could be considered if it transpired that the focus of the activities to be funded truly added value and was worthwhile.

If we do not opt in to a programme, the UK would make its contributions to the EU budget as a whole, including to the fund which is the subject of the opt-in decision, for the year in question in the normal way. Then, in the following year we would receive a refund based on the actual level of expenditure from that fund and our gross national income (GNI) share. There would also be an impact on the abatement, as we would not receive an abatement on funds where we had not opted in.