Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Learco Chindamo - uses and abuses of EU law

I've already posted about the Learco Chindamo case on my other "regular" blog, but I am grateful for EULawBlog (I think that's all one word) for drawing my attention to a risibly confused press release on the topic by Open Europe, which really does show up this organisation up to be incapable of any sensible comment on the topic of the effects of EU laws and legislation. And to think they hold themselves out as somehow experts on the matter... Openness requires accuracy to be effective, I'm afraid.

Learco Chindamo (an Italian national and therefore EU citizen) is the man who murdered the Head Teacher Philip Lawrence, and who has been serving a life sentence (which was originally going to be indefinite, I think, until the ECtHR stepped in relation to the cases of the killers of Jamie Bulger). Anyway, his tariff is set at a minimum of 12 years, which means he can be considered for release in 2008 - provided he is not a danger to the public. If he is not a danger to the public, then there is no way that **EU single market law** (note, Open Europe, single market not justice and home affairs) law would allow him to be deported, given his circumstances. Came to UK when only 6; only effective family and life in the UK; probably doesn't speak Italian; etc. etc. That much is abundantly clear from the citizens' rights directive, which I excerpted on the other blog.

Quite how Open Europe think that this has anything to do with harmonisation in the field of justice and home affairs (which, I would agree with them, is politically tendentious) is beyond me. Open Europe claims to embrace economic liberalisation. That means the single market. The single market for persons, as opposed to goods, services and capital, has always, inevitably, meant more than just treating people as economic commodities. That was recognised in the foundational free movement of workers legislation in the 1960s, in relation to matters such as coordination of social security rights, and - yes - the deportation of those deemed undesirable for whatever reason. It is interesting that the very first reference to the Court of Justice from a UK court was in relation to a deportation question - the case of Van Duyn. The precise point there was about the consideration of cases involving what we now call "EU citizens", i.e. the nationals of a Member State, on an individual basis, judging what threat they might individually pose to public security. With the citizens' rights directive, the law has moved on somewhat, but the point remains essentially the same. At least the courts appear to have understood the relevance and correct application of EU law (whatever you think about its political content), even if the politicians and the executive, to judge by the Home Office reaction, and a so-called "leading" thinktank have not.

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