European Union (EU) criminal law legislation

The Lisbon Treaty grants the European Union (EU) competence both in the field of criminal procedure and substantive criminal law. While it is not the role of the EU to replace national criminal codes, EU criminal law legislation, adds within the limits of EU competence, important value to the existing national criminal law systems. 

  • EU criminal law fosters the confidence of citizens in using their right to free movement and to buy goods or services from providers from other Member States through a more effective fight against crime and the adoption of minimum standards for procedural rights in criminal proceedings.
  • Today, many serious crimes, including violations of harmonized EU legislation, occur across borders. There is thus an incentive and possibility for criminals to choose the Member State with the most lenient sanctioning system in certain crime areas unless a degree of approximation of the national laws prevents the existence of such 'save havens'.
  • Common rules strengthen mutual trust among the judiciaries and law enforcement authorities of the Member States. This facilitates the mutual recognition of judicial measures as national authorities feel more comfortable recognizing decisions taken in another Member State if the definitions of the underlying criminal offences are compatible and there is a minimum approximation of sanction level. Common rules also facilitate cooperation with regard to the use of special investigative measures in cross-border cases.
  • EU criminal law helps to prevent and sanction serious offences against EU law in important policy areas, such as the protection of the environment of illegal employment.

Framework Decisions, Directives and Regulations

A Framework Decision (FD) was a kind of legislative act of the EU used exclusively within the EU's competences in police and judicial cooperation in criminal justice matters. Framework Decisions were similar to Directives in that they required Member States to achieve particular results without dictating the means of achieving that result. However unlike Directives, Framework Decisions were not capable of direct effect, they were only subject to the optional jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and enforcement proceedings could not be taken by the European Commission for any failure to transpose a Framework Decision into domestic law. The Lisbon Treaty abolished Framework Decisions and the EU can now enact Directives and Regulations in the area of criminal means of the ordinary legislative procedure.

Important EU instruments 

Lawyers EU criminal law 

The attorneys of Kaarls Criminal Defense Lawyers provide assistance in all matters related to European criminal law. Often questions are raised about the implementation of EU instruments. Our firm has a significant experience in complex international, multinational and/or cross-border criminal law cases.

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