Table of Contents

Research Handbook on EU Criminal Law

Research Handbook on EU Criminal Law

Research Handbooks in European Law series

Edited by Valsamis Mitsilegas, Maria Bergström and Theodore Konstadinides

EU criminal law is one of the fastest evolving, but also challenging, policy areas and fields of law. This Handbook provides a comprehensive and advanced analysis of EU criminal law as a structurally and constitutionally unique policy area and field of research. With contributions from leading experts, focusing on their respective fields of research, the book is preoccupied with defining cross-border or ‘Euro-crimes’, while allowing Member States to sanction criminal behaviour through mutual cooperation. It contains a web of institutions, agencies, and external liaisons, which ensure the protection of EU citizens from serious crime, while protecting the fundamental rights of suspects and criminals.

Chapter 1: The European Court of Justice and fundamental rights in the field of criminal law

Koen Lenaerts and José A. Gutiérrez-Fons

Subjects: law - academic, criminal law and justice, european law


The purpose of this contribution is to provide a comprehensive overview of the situations in which the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (the ‘Charter’) may apply in the field of criminal law. First, national criminal penalties that seek to enforce substantive EU law ‘implement EU law’ within the meaning of Article 51(1) of the Charter. The same applies to national criminal measures that derogate from the substantive law of the EU. Second, criminal law is no longer foreign to European integration, as parts of that law may be subject to EU legislation. If EU criminal law seeks to facilitate the mutual recognition of judicial decisions by setting a uniform standard of fundamental rights protection, such a standard must comply with the Charter. This shows that both the effectiveness of national criminal laws implementing EU law and that of EU criminal law must be balanced against fundamental rights.