Inquiry into the European Union's policy on criminal procedure

03 November 2011

The House of Lords EU Justice and Institutions Sub-Committee today invites contributions to a new inquiry into EU criminal procedure.

Following the increase in EU criminal law powers in the Lisbon Treaty, the European Commission is building on existing legislation in the field, such as the European Arrest Warrant, to develop an EU approach to criminal procedure as part of a “coherent and consistent EU criminal policy”.  It draws support from a recent study based on its research indicating that EU citizens believe that the fight against crime is an important area for EU action. 

The Committee will ask whether an EU system of criminal procedural law is desirable, and what effects the proposed developments are likely to have on British citizens.

It will examine questions such as:

  • whether the EU’s proposals take sufficient account of the UK’s and other Member States’ own judicial and criminal processes;
  • whether there are practical benefits for UK and EU citizens and authorities;
  • whether the UK would be affected, given the fact that it would need to ‘opt-in’ to such legislation;
  • the effect of the legislation on processes such as pre-trial procedure, European Arrest Warrants, and the rights of defendants;
  • whether EU instruments protect the rights of those involved in criminal proceedings above and beyond existing safeguards in the European Convention on Human Rights, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and other multilateral and bilateral agreements.

Committee Chairman, Lord Bowness, said: “There have been a number of high profile cases in recent years concerning British citizens arrested in other EU countries or sent for trial in another country under a European Arrest Warrant.  The UK has also been able to secure the trial of criminals who have gone abroad to escape justice.  It is essential that we find effective ways of tackling the problem of fighting crime while safeguarding innocent citizens.  But there are serious questions over whether this is what the Commission’s latest proposals will achieve.

“I welcome contributions from everyone who knows about criminal procedure and how it works across the EU. My Committee, which brings together a wide range of experience of EU justice and institutions, depends on knowledgeable people giving us the benefit of their expertise. Together we hope to make a real contribution to this important subject.”

Written evidence must be received by Wednesday 7 December.

Image: istock photo

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