EU Criminal Law and Justice

EU Criminal Law and Justice

Elgar European Law series

Maria Fletcher, Robin Lööf and Bill Gilmore

Today, EU criminal law and justice constitutes a significant body of law potentially affecting most aspects of criminal justice. This book provides a comprehensive, accessible yet analytically challenging account of the institutional and legal developments in this field to date. It also includes full consideration of the prospective changes to EU criminal law contained in the recent ‘Lisbon Treaty’. While, broadly speaking, the authors welcome the objectives of EU criminal law, they call for a profound rethinking of how the good of criminal justice – however defined – is to be delivered to those living in the EU. At present, despite sometimes commendable initiatives from the institutions responsible, the actual framing and implementation of the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ) suffers from a failure to properly consider the theoretical implications of providing the good of criminal justice at the EU level.

Chapter 1: Justifications, Competences and Principles

Maria Fletcher, Robin Lööf and Bill Gilmore

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


1. Justifications, competences and principles As will have been understood from the reasoning in the introduction, the highly emotive evocation of an ‘Area of freedom, security and justice’ by the EU Treaty was probably not the result of any deeper probing into what the theoretical foundations of a novel, EU system of criminal justice ought to be. As a matter of rhetoric it is a pleasing triplet and it can probably be placed in that tradition of aspirational taglines which can trace its lineage back to the ‘Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ of the American revolution and the ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité’ of its French counterpart. It is of course true that the American and French slogans were meant to encapsulate the hopes and aspirations of, respectively, a newly born and a reborn nation-state whereas the EU’s AFSJ is more limited in scope. Nevertheless, a comparison can prove enlightening. Precisely as it was with its historically illustrious counterparts, the AFSJ is capable of serving as support for the hopes and aspirations of a great number of very varied ideologies, all claiming to interpret and give voice to its ‘mandate’. In this vein, a multitude of academic criticisms of the development of the AFSJ with reference to a perceived lack of ‘balance’ between the three foundational concepts in the normative output of the EU has emerged. Again, however, precisely as with the American and French slogans, very little in terms of legal rights and obligations can be said...

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