Following the debate in the House of Commons on 12 June, the Government decided not to opt in at this stage to the draft directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the freezing and confiscation of proceeds of crime in the European Union (European Union Document No. 7641/12).
The Government welcome the overall aims of the directive and recognise the benefits of increased international co-operation to recover assets held overseas. However having analysed the contents of the directive, and consulted with policy and operational partners, the Government identified a number of issues with the directive, including a serious problem with article 5 of the directive which introduces provisions on non-conviction based confiscation in limited circumstances.
The UK has strong powers which are successfully used to tackle criminal finances. Our powers are already compliant with or stronger than many of those contained in the directive. As the directive offers no direct benefit and the risk to our domestic regime posed by article 5 is sufficiently serious, we decided that the best course of action is not to opt in at this stage.
We will take a full part in the negotiations on the directive and will seek to shape it in the national interest before carefully considering the case for a post-adoption opt-in.