Research Handbooks in European Law series
Edited by Valsamis Mitsilegas, Maria Bergström and Theodore Konstadinides
Chapter 24: EU criminal law and EU enlargement
Since the creation of the European Communities, the number of Member States has gradually increased from the original six to currently 28. Enlargement has become the EU’s flagship external policy, demonstrating the EU’s ability to shape its neighbourhood and to serve as a catalyst of deep and multilayered reforms. The seven consecutive enlargement rounds have happened in parallel with widespread internal developments, culminating in the creation of the European Union and, most recently, the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. As this volume demonstrates, EU criminal law has evolved considerably from its early days under the legal framework laid down by the Maastricht Treaty to its current post-Lisbon shape. On 1 December 2014, that is, with expiry of a five-year transitional regime for the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), Police and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters became a fully fledged EU policy, governed largely by the same modus operandi as other areas of EU competence and with compulsory jurisdiction of the CJEU. As EU criminal law developed internally, so did its external dimension, including the role it plays in the enlargement policy. In the case of the latter, the expiry of the same transitional period has brought to an end a rather anomalous situation whereby the European Union had more enforcement tools before and after accession vis-à-vis its future/new Member States than it could employ against the old ones.
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