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 5: EU criminal law and fundamental rights

Paul De Hert


This chapter discusses the development of EU human rights law from the lens of EU criminal law. It starts this discussion by shedding light on the essential steps which CJEU undertook to enshrine fundamental rights in the Union, while gradually expanding its insistence to include criminal law safeguards. The chapter demonstrates that the multiplicity of actors involved in the human rights law landscape of the Union may further complicate the level of protection which the Union should afford. To this extent, the article first questions the scope of human rights obligations for Member States when they fall within the obligation to implement the criminal law of the Union, showing not only the restrictive character of the Court in interpreting the ChFR's scope but also its primary aim of inserting the primacy and effectiveness of EU law in face of broader human rights standards. Further, the chapter discusses the scope of relevance of the ChFR for EU criminal law. Building upon that, the chapter examines the case law of CJEU in regards to several fundamental rights from the lens of the criminal law of the Union. Finally, the chapter concludes that although there is a baseline human rights law identity of the Union with regards to the criminal law it is still necessary to take a step further to better follow the minimum standards of and comply with the ECHR.

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