EU deal cracks down on fine evaders

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The Independent Online

British drivers caught speeding on the Continent will no longer be able to evade the fines when they get home.

British drivers caught speeding on the Continent will no longer be able to evade the fines when they get home.

European Union justice and home affairs ministers struck a deal yesterday on plans to close a legal loophole allowing residents of one member state to ignore penalties given in another. National parliaments will be consulted before the plan is formally approved.

Motoring penalties of more than €70 (£50) levied on Britons in other EU states will be collected in Britain, as will fines for offences such as shoplifting and drunkenness. The money will be sent back to the nation where the fine was incurred.

The same principle will apply to continental European citizens who commit offences in the UK. Revenue from uncollected fines is thought to amount to millions of euros each year.

The Netherlands raised objections to the list of offences and Italy suggested that the minimum fine at which the system kicked in should be €100. But both objections were withdrawn.

The agreement builds on a broader deal struck last year for a European arrest warrant, which will replace extradition proceedings in EU member states. Many of the serious offences cited in the warrant are covered by the new deal, although the inclusion of road traffic offences is more likely to affect the typical traveller. Other crimes that will be covered include acts of violence, theft of vehicles and general theft.

Lord Filkin, a Home Office minister, said the deal, which Britain backed, "will ensure that people committing crimes in the UK pay for them – either through a fine or as compensation to a victim – wherever they live ...Why should someone be able to run away from stealing or behaving like a hooligan?

"This is also a significant advance in European road safety. It will mean, for example, that lorry drivers from other parts of the EU who speed or otherwise break the law on our roads will have the penalties imposed on them enforced."

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