EU Plan Allows Foreign Countries To Monitor UK Bank Accounts, Phones, And More
The European Union (EU) is set to debate the little-mentioned European Investigation Order (EIO) next Tuesday, a measure which would purportedly combat cross-border crime by allowing EU countries to issue requests for evidence held in other Member States.
The EIO will allow EU countries to monitor bank accounts and tap phone conversations of British citizens who are suspected of crimes committed in foreign jurisdictions. It would also enable covert surveillance and financial investigation. Critics argue that the EIO represents a fundamental threat to the rule of law and the national sovereignty of Member States.
UK law officials will be powerless to refuse EIO requests from other countries, and the burden of cost for the requests are to be borne by the recipient of the request, meaning that even for frivolous cases, the British taxpayer would be liable.
Alan Murad, Acting Campaign Manager of the anti-Brussels think-tank Get Britain Out, said: “The EU has an incredible appetite for intruding on the sovereignty of nations and people’s liberties alike. These proposals are a fundamental threat to the rule of law; and a disturbing signpost for the direction the EU is going.”
Bizarrely, a cross-border EIO can even be issued for perceived ‘racism and xenophobia’ (Annex A, Section F), provided it is a crime in the country that is making an EIO request. This could potentially open up thousands of requests based off of tweets or online activity that is illegal in one member state, but not in another.
It can also be requested for traditional crimes like murder, arson and kidnapping.
The EIO will allow prosecutors from any EU Member State to demand access into bank accounts (article 24), and intercept phone calls (article 27b) of British citizens.
Despite the Conservative Party promising to opt-out from a raft of EU Justice measures, the EIO along with the European Arrest Warrant, have not been opted out of.
The EIO is supposed to replace the current system of ‘mutual legal assistance’, under which foreign jurisdictions can request help with evidence-gathering, and the receiving state enjoys discretion to assist or refuse the request.
The new measures will require Member States to automatically comply with the EIO (article 8). It will only be refusable under specific and very limited grounds like diplomatic immunity or if complying with the EIO will amount to a severe threat to national security.
The measures will seemingly bring the EU closer to becoming a super-state with an integrated criminal code, with the harmonising of judiciaries.