Category: Criminal law

The Presumption of Innocence (and the Right to be Present at Trial) Directive

By Stijn Lamberigts

The recently adopted Directive on the strengthening of certain aspects of the presumption of innocence and of the right to be present at trial in criminal proceedings (the Presumption of Innocence Directive) is the fourth Directive on the procedural rights of suspected and accused persons in criminal proceedings. After the Translation and Interpretation Directive, the Right to Information Directive and the Access to a Lawyer Directive, this new Directive tries to enhance the right to a fair trial through the adoption of common minimum rules on certain points of the presumption of innocence and the right to be present at trial (Recital 9). This should result in an increased trust between the Member States (MS) in the field of criminal justice and thereby facilitate mutual recognition. Whether this will be achieved by the Directive, will depend on the MS’s implementation efforts and the Court of Justice’s guidance on its interpretation.   Continue reading

Neues aus dem Elfenbeinturm: March 2016

Jean Monnet Doctoral Workshop “Interactions Between European Union and International Law”

City University London, 23 June 2016. Deadline for abstract submission: 25 March 2016.

Conference “Boosting the Enforcement of EU Competition Law at Domestic Level”

Radboud University Nijmegen, 3 June 2016. Deadline for abstract submissions: 31 March 2016.

Workshop “The Disintegration of Europe”

Hertie School of Governance, Berlin, 30-31 May 2016. Deadline for abstract submissions: 1 April 2016.

Seminar “Transnational Solidarity: Setting the Boundaries”

Center for Transnational Legal Studies, London, 1 April 2016. (Free) registration needed.

Conference “Environmental Rights in Europe and Beyond”

Lund, 21-22 April 2016. (Free) registration needed.

Conference “Existe-t-il encore un seul non bis in idem aujourd’hui?”

University of Nancy, 28 April 2016. Registration needed.

Vienna Journal on International Constitutional Law Conference 2016

Vienna University of Economics and Business, 23 September 2016. Deadline for abstract submissions: 15 May 2016. Continue reading

Case C-25/15 Balogh – The Translation and Interpretation Directive and (questionable) special procedures

By Stijn Lamberigts

Advocate General Bot killed two birds with one stone in his Opinion in Balogh (currently not available in English). After Covaci, previously analyzed here, the CJEU has now been asked to examine the role of the Translation and Interpretation Directive in special procedures. This Directive is one of the so-called Roadmap Directives, the latest attempt of the EU to increase the mutual trust between Member States (MS) in the field of criminal justice, by establishing EU minimum rules for procedural safeguards.  In his Opinion Advocate General Bot gave the referring Court, the Regional Court of the Budapest metropolitan area (Budapest Környéki Törvényszék), more than it had bargained for.  Continue reading

Neues aus dem Elfenbeinturm: February 2016

Conference “The European Convention on Human Rights and the Crimes of the Past”

European Court of Human Rights, Strasbourg, February 26 2016. Deadline for registration: 19 February 2016.

Conference “Searching for Solidarity in EU Asylum and Border Policies”

Brussels, 26-27 February 2016. (Paid) registration needed.

Conference “Reforms in UN Treaty Bodies and the European Court of Human Rights: Mutual Lessons?”

University of Oslo, 29 February 2016. (Free) registration needed.

Conference “Mapping the challenges in economic and financial criminal law: a comparative analysis of Europe and the US”

University of Luxembourg, 17 March 2016. (Free) registration needed.

Workshop “Austerity and Law in Europe”

University of Amsterdam, 16-17 June 2016. (Free) registration needed.

EUI Summer Courses on Human Rights and on the Law of the European Union

European University Institute, Florence, 20 June-1 July/4-15 July 2016. Deadline for applications: 4 April 2016.

Conference “Adjudicating international trade and investment disputes: between interaction and isolation”

University of Oslo, 25-26 August 2016. Deadline for abstract submissions: 1 March 2016.

Ne bis in idem in the EU: Two important questions for the CJEU (Opinion of the AG in C-486/14 Kussowski)

By Michele Simonato

As observed earlier on this blog, criminal ne bis in idem is a key issue for the development of an Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ), particularly in order to ensure the freedom of movement of EU citizens by protecting them from multiple prosecutions in different Member States.

In the last years the CJEU has developed an autonomous transnational concept of ne bis in idem (i.e. independent from the national understanding of this principle) based upon the provisions contained in Articles 54 et seq. of the Convention Implementing the Schengen Agreement (CISA), and the principle of mutual trust between Member States. The ‘transnational’ EU ne bis in idem is also a fundamental right enshrined in Article 50 Charter of the Fundamental Rights of the European Union (Charter or CFREU), thus part of the primary law of the Union.

This comment focuses on the opinion delivered last December by the Advocate General Yves Bot in Kussowski (C-486/14, 15 December 2015, not yet available in English). After the Spasic case (C-129/14 PPU, 27 May 2014, commented by Marletta on this blog), this new case offers the CJEU another opportunity to clarify the relation between Article 50 CFREU and the CISA provisions, and thus the real added value of the Charter. Furthermore, the Court is called upon to indicate to which extent mutual trust should shape the relations between national criminal justice authorities. Continue reading

Top ten most read posts of 2015

By the editors

As is becoming a tradition with our blog (albeit a bit late this year), we present to you our top 10 most read posts of the last year. We have had another good year of blogging behind us: more readers contributing to the content of the blog with 33 posters coming from approximately 14 different countries this year. Equally important is that readership is steadily increasing according to Google Analytics (plus: we now have almost 1600 email subscribers and 2400 followers on twitter). Most of you are from the UK, followed by the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the United States, Italy, Sweden, France, Ireland and Poland, respectively.

Keeping in mind that there is a certain bias in favour of older posts which have had more time to become popular, this is the 2015 list of most read posts of the year: Continue reading

Case C-216/14 Covaci –Minimum rules, yet effective protection?

By Stijn Lamberigts

Covaci is the first case dealing with two of the so-called Roadmap Directives on procedural safeguards in criminal proceedings, Directive 2010/64/EU on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings and Directive 2012/13/EU on the right to information in criminal proceedings. The Roadmap Directives are the latest attempt of the EU to increase the mutual trust between Member States (MS) in the field of criminal justice, by establishing EU minimum rules for procedural safeguards. An earlier attempt failed and some have questioned the added value of the Roadmap Directives to the standards provided by the ECHR and the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Both the CJEU and the national courts can play a defining role in ensuring that the minimum rules of the Roadmap Directives really contribute to more effective defence rights throughout the EU. The preliminary ruling in Covaci seems to indicate that the CJEU is willing to take up that role – to a large, but not unlimited, extent.  Continue reading

Taricco kills two birds with one stone for the sake of the PIF

By Maxime Lassalle

The case C-105/14 Ivo Taricco and Others delivered on 8 September 2015 is a new example of activism of the EU Court of Justice (CJEU). It draws consequences from Åkerberg Fransson C-617/10 (already commented on this blog here and here), but this time goes in another direction as it extends the obligation of Member States in the field of criminal law for a more effective penalisation at the expense of national criminal procedure. Once again the obligations related to VAT collection are at stake, as was the case in Åkerberg Fransson, however this time from the point of view of the protection of the financial interests of the Union. In this field, the Member States have indeed the duty to counter fraud affecting the financial interests of the Union (Article 325 (1) TFEU), the so-called “PIF fraud” (where PIF is a French acronym for ‘protection des intérêts financiers de l’Union’). In particular, they are required to “take the same measures to counter fraud affecting the financial interests of the Union as they take to counter fraud affecting their own financial interests” (Article 325 (2)). In this Grand Chamber ruling, the Court took an opportunity to clearly express its will to include VAT fraud in the definition of PIF fraud and to significantly extend the obligations of the Member States to effectively penalize such fraud. Given the difficulties related to the ongoing negotiations on the project of PIF Directive, this decision is very timely. Continue reading

Case C-650/13 Delvigne – A Political Citizenship?

By Stephen Coutts

Citizenship is typically conceived of as membership in a political community, carrying with it certain rights and obligations, and especially the right to participate in the government of that community. Union citizenship has until recently been deficient in that regard. Despite the existence of a democratically elected assembly since 1979 in the form of the European Parliament, the links between this parliament and the status of Union citizenship have been ambiguous[1] with the parliament representing not a single group of Union citizens but rather the ‘peoples’ of Europe, those peoples being defined by Member States and national law.

The Treaty of Lisbon changes that paradigm, stating boldly that the European Parliament represents no longer the peoples of Europe but rather the ‘citizens of the Union’.[2] The link between Union citizenship and the European Parliament being made apparent, it was perhaps only a matter of time before the Court drew the conclusion that the rights of Union citizenship contained a stand-alone right to vote in European Parliamentary elections. That decision has just occurred in the judgment in Delvigne. Continue reading

Neues aus dem Elfenbeinturm: September 2015

Conference “The European Union as an Actor in International Economic Law”

University of Luxembourg, 1-2 October 2015. Deadline for registration: 30 September 2015.

Conference “Criminal Justice: Jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice – Today and Future”

Court of Justice of the European Union, 2-3 October 2015. (Paid) registration required.

Inaugural CMLRev Conference “Membership of the Union and Membership of the Euro”

University of Liverpool, 9 October 2015. (Free) registration required.

Workshop “Mutual Legal Assistance in the Digital Age: Problems, Challenges, Solutions for Criminal Justice”

University of Luxembourg, 15 October 2015. (Free) registration required.

Workshop “A balanced data protection in the EU: conflicts and possible solutions”

UM Campus Brussels, University of Maastricht, 19 October 2015. (Paid) registration required.

Conference “Migration Policy in the European Union – Current Challenges and Future Developments”

University of Luxembourg, 22-23 October 2015.

Call for submissions for the 2016 edition of the Hibernian Law Journal

Deadline for submissions: 31 October 2015.

EIUC Training for International Electoral Observers

Monastery of San Nicolò, 23-28 November 2015. Deadline for application: 30 October 2015.

Workshop “Victims in Europe – Needs, Rights, Perspectives”

University of Luxembourg, 16 November 2015.

Colloquium “The Environment in Court – Environmental Protection in National and International Courts, Tribunals, and Compliance Mechanisms”

PluriCourts, University of Oslo, 20-25 June 2016. Deadline for abstract submissions: 15 January 2016.

Neues aus dem Elfenbeinturm: April 2015

Conference “Hungarian Particularism in the European Union: Politico-Legal Perspectives”

Central European University, Budapest, 15 May 2015.

Conference “Chasing criminal money in the EU: new tools and practices”

University of Luxembourg, 15-16 June 2015. Deadline for registration: 22 May 2015.

Summer School “The EU Area of Criminal Justice”

Université Libre de Bruxelles, 29 June – 3 July 2015. Deadline for application: 31 May 2015.

Summer School “European Union Law and Policy on Immigration and Asylum” 

Université Libre de Bruxelles, 29 June – 10 July 2015. Deadline for application : 5 June 2015.

Workshop “Constructive Links or Dangerous Liaisons? The Case of Public International Law and European Union Law”

Queen Mary School of Law, University of London, 25-26 June 2015. Deadline for registration: 23 June 2015.

The CJEU and the Spasic case: recasting mutual trust in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice?

By Angelo Marletta

Ne bis in idem is a fundamental principle of EU criminal law, protecting citizens against double prosecution, even in transnational situations. Yet what is more, since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the ne bis in idem principle has become a yardstick of the systemic impact of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (CFREU) on secondary EU law.

One reason for this is that the ne bis in idem principle in Article 50 CFREU differs in some aspects from the principle as laid down in the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement (CISA), which introduced transnational ne bis in idem in the EU legal order. In particular, the CFREU neither provides for the “enforcement clause” (Article 54 CISA) nor for the exceptions foreseen by Article 55 CISA, such as the national security exception. According to the enforcement clause, the transnational ne bis in idem bars further prosecution provided that, if a penalty has been imposed: a) it has been enforced, b) it is actually in the process of being enforced or c) it can no longer be enforced under the laws of the Contracting State. Since none of these enforcement conditions are mentioned by Article 50 CFREU, the question arose, when the CFREU became a source of primary EU law, whether those limiting conditions in the CISA are compatible with the CFREU, taking into account that the CFREU is a lex superior and posterior.

In the Spasic case (C-129/14 PPU, 27 May 2014) the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice (CJEU) provided a partial and to a certain extent striking answer to this question, as this contribution will show.   Continue reading

Neues aus dem Elfenbeinturm: December 2014

Call for Papers CJICL 2015 Conference: Developing Democracy – Conversations on Democratic Governance in International, European and Comparative Law

University of Cambridge, 8-9 May 2015. Deadline for paper proposals: 16 January 2015.

Call for Papers: Democratic Standards of and for Free Trade Agreements

Berlin, 24 April 2015. Deadline for paper proposals: 30 January 2015.

Call for Papers: Chasing Criminal Money in the EU: New Tools and Practices?

University of Luxembourg, 15-16 June 2015. Deadline for paper proposals: 31 January 2015.

Mutual trust and transnational ne bis in idem: A further step made by the CJEU (C-398/12, M., 5 June 2014)

By Michele Simonato

Ne bis in idem is one of the key principles of EU criminal law. On the one hand, it is an important individual safeguard for suspects and convicted persons in the EU, as it protects against double prosecution and double punishment. On the other hand, it is the only mechanism – although imperfect and insufficient – to regulate conflicts of jurisdiction in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ). A final judgment in one Member State indeed prevents another Member State from (further) prosecuting the same person (again) for the same facts.

Last June the Court of Justice (CJEU) issued an important judgment regarding the scope of the transnational protection against double jeopardy. The decision of the CJEU further expands the concept of ‘final decision’ triggering the ne bis in idem, confirming the validity of the previously consolidated trend which, on the one hand, recognises a strong importance to the mutual trust between Member States, and on the other hand acknowledges the inherent link between ne bis in idem and the freedom of movement in the EU.  Continue reading

Neues aus dem Elfenbeinturm: October 2014

Conference “The European Union as an Actor in International Trade and Investment”

University of Oslo, 31 October 2014. Registration still open.

4th Conference of the Postgraduate and Early Professionals/Academics Network of the Society of International Economic Law (PEPA/SIEL) 2015

University of Milan, 16-17 April 2015. Deadline for abstract submissions: 2 November 2014.

Call for Papers : Utrecht Journal of International and European Law – Privacy under International and European Law

Deadline extension (!): 14 November 2014.

Conference “Challenges in the field of economic and financial crime in Europe”

University of Luxembourg, 1-3 December 2014. Deadline for registration: 21 November 2014.

POMFR: European Police and Criminal Co-Operation

By Claudio Matera

Maria Bergström and Anna Jonsson Cornell (eds.), European Police and Criminal Co-Operation, Swedish Studies In European Law, Volume 5, Hart Publishing 2014, 198 pages, ISBN: 978-1-84946-350-8

The fields of police and criminal law cooperation within the European Union have been significantly transformed and widened with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009; yet, they remain contested on a number of grounds. Maria Bergström and Annna Jonsson Cornell, the editors of the book under current review, argue that there are two main reasons for this. Firstly, they consider that this is because the two policies have a significant impact on the rights of individuals and on the relationship between the individual and the State; secondly, they consider that this is because policing and criminal law remain anchored to State sovereignty and the monopole of enforcement exercised by the States in these domains. Against this background, the different contributions of the book take stock of post-Lisbon developments in order to assess the extent to which the reform of 2009 and recent legislative initiatives relate to the two main controversial aspects identified by the editors. With legislative proposals such as the new Europol Regulation and the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor pending in Brussels, the book comes out at a time in which the powers of the EU in the fields are in the spotlight.

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STC 26/2014: The Spanish Constitutional Court Modifies its case law in response to the CJEU’s Melloni judgment

By Mario García

On 13 February, the Spanish Constitutional Court (“SCC” or the “Court”) handed down its awaited judgment in the Melloni case (STC 26/2014). The case concerned the problematic issue of differing levels of protection of fundamental rights at national and European levels in relation to the execution of a European Arrest Warrant (“EAW”). This affair was the source of the SCC’s first-ever preliminary reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”). Following the CJEU’s ruling last year (Melloni, Case C-399/11, 26 February 2013), which has already been covered in this blog by V. Franssen, the SCC has now agreed to lower the degree of protection afforded by the Spanish Constitution in line with EU law.

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Melloni as a Wake-up Call – Setting Limits to Higher National Standards of Fundamental Rights’ Protection

By Vanessa Franssen

I plead guilty: this post on the Melloni ruling of the CJEU should have been written long ago. However, instead of invoking attenuating circumstances, I prefer to draw your attention to the reasons why a blog post on this case still is highly relevant today. First, Melloni is a true landmark case with respect to the relation between EU and national standards of fundamental rights in the field of criminal justice. Central issue in this case was whether Member States are still allowed to impose a higher level of fundamental rights’ protection for cross-border cooperation in criminal matters than the standard set by EU law. Second, Melloni has become ‘hot’ again thanks to the recent follow-up judgment of the Spanish Constitutional Court, which shows the real impact of the CJEU’s ruling and which will be discussed in a separate post by M. García García.

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Proposal for a Directive on the strengthening of certain aspects of the presumption of innocence and the right to be present at trial in criminal proceedings

With the Directives on the right to information in criminal proceedings and the right to access to a lawyer successfully passed, the Proposal for a Directive on the strengthening of certain aspects of the presumption of innocence and the right to be present at trial in criminal proceedings marks a new step in the recent efforts of the Commission to create common EU framework of defence rights which minimally need to be respected by the Member States. The proposal entails two different aspects of the right to a fair trial as its subject matter (Art. 1-2). On the one hand, the proposal deals with the presumption of innocence and several related aspects of the right to a fair trial (Art. 3-7). On the other hand, the proposal also regulates the right to be present at one’s trial (Art. 8-9).

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