EU States hamper transnational crime fight

Nieuws | de redactie
6 februari 2013 | Unilateral crime fighting by EU Member States undermines the tackling of cross-border crime. The EU should act more prescriptive on ‘the choice of forum’, researcher Michael Luchtman thinks.

In a recent article Luchtman (Utrecht University) signals that the EU increasingly influences criminal law, for instance in the area of victim and suspect rights. At the same time, Member States are reluctant to hand over authority to the EU in the field of investigation, prosecution and adjudication. “The problem of coordination and harmonization of cross-border crime is now hardly addressed,” says Luchtman.

Michael Luchtman analysed the problems that exist in the prosecution of cross-border crime in the European Union. His research was based on a series of interviews with prosecutors, lawyers and representatives of European institutions and the study of legal, political and sociological sources.

Multiple prosecutions

According to Luchtman the lack of clear regulations means that national investigative and prosecuting authorities have carte blanche to do whatever they want with transnational crime. “This is not only inefficient, it also leads to multiple prosecutions for the same offense”, Luchtman says.

“As long as the European legislators and the national legislators do not intervene, the European citizen loses out. If no Member State acts against a cross-border crime, the victim is let down; if several Member States simultaneously act on a case, the victim runs the risk of getting crushed between multiple systems.”

Choice of forum

Article 3 of the EU Treaty (TEU) states: “The Union shall offer its citizens an area of freedom, security and justice without internal frontiers, in which the free movement of persons is ensured in conjunction with appropriate measures with respect to external border controls, asylum, immigration and the prevention and combating of crime.”

In practise, the transfer of powers from the national to the European level and the increased horizontal intertwinement of national criminal justice systems, often results in unilateral actions by individual states that may hamper the goal put forward in Article 3 of the Treaty.

“This issue is pertinent in cases of choice of forum, an area of law which is still left largely untouched by European law”, says Luchtman.

More prescriptive guidance

Luchtman argues that the solution to this problem lies not in replacing national rules by European, but in better coordination and control of national systems. “This requires more and more prescriptive guidance at European level than is currently the case. It should be made clear from the outset what rules apply in dealing with a specific kind of crime”, says the researcher.



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