Research Handbook on EU Criminal Law
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Research Handbook on EU Criminal Law

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.
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Chapter 2: The institutional framework

Henri Labayle


The definition of an appropriate institutional framework has always been a challenge for the Member States of the European Union willing to fight together against crime. It was always a particular object of tensions for the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ). Member States have therefore explored several different avenues, for over 25 years, until the stabilization brought about by the Treaty of Lisbon. This experiment allowed them to overcome their hostility to using the framework and community working method expressed in the Schengen ‘laboratory’ in 1985. The pressure of events explains the importance of institutional debates. The wave of terrorist events in the 1970s and accelerated mutual assistance in criminal matters between Member States have opened the issue of construction of a ‘European judicial area’. Achieving a common area opened to free movement, from the mid-1980s, then extended reflections to the criminal dimension. The inter-governmental mechanism ‘coincides’ with a Community objective, relating to the Convention Implementing the Schengen Agreement (CISA) of 19 June 1990, which has so far failed to be enrolled in the institutional framework of common EU law. The Schengen experience created a unique bridge between classical international law and Community law. Indeed, it showed a desire for Member States to ‘complete’ the integration of the provisions of the European Convention on Extradition, the Benelux Treaty and the European Convention on the Transfer of Proceedings in Criminal Matters of 1983.

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