The breakdown of talks concerning the introduction of common EU standards for the treatment of suspects in criminal proceedings has highlighted a clash between member states ready to hand over legislation rights to Brussels and those eager to keep control of them. It is a problem that touches on one of the core issues of the rejected EU Constitutional Treaty.
At the last Justice and Home Affairs Council on 12-13 June, the German Presidency of the EU failed to push through a deal to harmonise EU rules on minimum standards for suspects in criminal proceedings.
"We simply have to note that, at the moment, we cannot adopt this," said German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries to an audience that was not restricted only to ministers but also included media representatives and internet-viewers who had been invited to follow the ministers' deliberations. Some observers said that this was a German move to put the spotlight on those guilty of blocking the deal.
"I think it will be simpler, perhaps, to start up the discussion again once we've had the [EU] summit and once we know what is going to happen regarding the decision-making structure," said Zypries. She was referring to the EU Constitution, which foresees EU member state decisions being taken by qualified majority voting instead of by unanimity in a series of areas in which the EU intends to speed up the harmonisation of legislation, including justice and home affairs. …