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 11: Is administrative law still relevant? How the battle of sanctions has shaped EU criminal law

Ester Herlin-Karnell


The idea of this chapter is to investigate the extent to which the EU legislator has continued invoking administrative sanctions when dealing with irregularities in the market and to explain why the history of administrative sanctions has shaped contemporary EU criminal law. Administrative sanctions have always formed a crucial part of the European Union’s enforcement strategy, particularly with regard to competition fines and sanctions in the domain of EU agriculture and fisheries policies. Yet with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, and thereby the legislative competences granted in criminal matters, one would perhaps have thought that there was no further need for administrative law sanctions in the EU. The distinction between administrative law and criminal law used to be the main point of departure for the debate on sanctions back in the days when the EU pillars still determined the realm of competence of the EU’s involvement in criminal law proper. In those early days, a lack of legislative competence in criminal law meant that the administrative procedure was the only avenue by which the EU could impose sanctions. However, despite the Treaty reformation and thereby the inclusion of criminal law in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) (as part of the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ)), as this contribution will show, the EU legislator still favours the administrative procedure in certain market related areas.

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