The European Union's Policy on Criminal Procedure - European Union Committee Contents


The Sub-Committee on Justice and Institutions is conducting an inquiry into aspects of EU criminal justice policy and invites you to submit written evidence to the inquiry. Please note the limitations on the scope of this inquiry mentioned below.


There is now a growing body of EU legislation in the field of criminal justice, including measures in the areas of criminal procedure with which our inquiry is concerned. Perhaps the most high profile is the European Arrest Warrant, but there are also measures in relation to the status of victims, on mutual assistance in gathering evidence and on pre-trial bail. The Commission and Member States have made a number of proposals since the new arrangements for an area of freedom, security and justice set out in the Lisbon Treaty have come into force.

The Sub-Committee on Justice and Institutions has scrutinised individual measures as they have been proposed and retains under scrutiny a number of recent proposals. It has also undertaken inquiries into criminal justice policy.[178] The Sub-Committee now seeks to assess this developing area of EU policy insofar as it relates to particular areas of EU competence.

Scope of the inquiry

In terms of EU competence, the inquiry is limited to the following areas, broadly those referred to in Article 82(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU)—

  • investigation of offences,
  • evidence,
  • pre-trial procedure,
  • procedural rights of suspects and defendants,
  • the position of victims of crime.

The inquiry will not consider other areas of criminal justice policy, as set out in Articles 82-87 TFEU.


In relation to those areas of policy, the inquiry will focus on three broad themes, on which we would welcome views. Specific questions are set out in italics:

(1) Is an EU system of criminal procedural law desirable?

It is said that national criminal justice systems reflect the societies in which they have developed. Can the EU establish a system which adequately reflects all the constituent societies within the EU?

Are EU instruments necessary to safeguard the rights of citizens involved in criminal proceedings, in addition to the European Convention on Human Rights, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the other multilateral and bilateral agreements?

To what extent does existing EU legislation affect national criminal justice systems?

To what extent does existing EU legislation and proposed legislation go further than the existing EU or international instruments, or UK law?

What is the effect of importing the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the EU? Will the Court of Justice be able to cope with litigation arising from EU legislation?

Are there other areas of criminal procedure which should be covered by EU legislation and, conversely, are there areas which are covered unnecessarily?

(2) Does EU legislation in the areas within scope add value?

What practical benefits does EU legislation bring—for citizens, law enforcement authorities, courts?

Do the benefits of EU legislation outweigh the disadvantages?

Does EU legislation promote mutual trust between national authorities and facilitate judicial and police co-operation in practice?

Should EU minimum standards for criminal procedure apply only to cross-border cases?

(3) The impact of the UK opt-in

To what extent should the UK opt in to legislation in this area?

What factors should inform the UK Government's decisions on opting in?

Will the fact that the UK has not opted in to some EU legislation undermine the trust of authorities of other Member States in the UK criminal justice system? If so how will this affect UK nationals involved in criminal proceedings in other Member States and the ability of the UK authorities to investigate and prosecute cross-border crimes.

You need not respond to all those points, and we welcome views on any other aspects of the matters within the scope of the inquiry.

Written evidence is invited in response to this Call for Evidence, to arrive no later than 7 December 2011.

3 November 2011

178   See our Reports: Procedural Rights in Criminal Proceedings (February 2005); European Arrest Warrant-Recent Developments (April 2006); Breaking the deadlock: what future for EU procedural rights (January 2007); European Supervision Order (July 2007); Procedural rights in EU criminal proceedings-an update (May 2009). Back

previous page contents

© Parliamentary copyright 2012