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Maria Kaiafa-Gbandi

Since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, there have been two important developments concerning the activity of the EU in the field of substantive criminal law: (1) the EU institutions that participate in the legislative procedure have formed rules and principles guiding the exercise of the competence deriving from Article 83 TFEU; (2) the directives adopted to approximate the definitions of criminal offences and sanctions often exceed the limits of the competence of the EU, despite the broad scope of Article 83 TFEU. In view of the EU’s obligation to respect the nature and the fundamental principles of substantive criminal law, as well as the limits of its competence, this chapter initially highlights and assesses the positive and the negative points of the guidelines set by the Commission and the European Parliament. Subsequently, it concentrates on the most problematic features of the EU directives concerning the approximation under Article 83 TFEU. The chapter concludes with a concise presentation of key proposals on reorienting EU activity in the field of substantive criminal law towards protecting the fundamental rights of citizens.