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  • The Police and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters. Intensifying the Union's Expansion
  • Meistara
  • The police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters under the third pillar of the European Union has been discussed widely among European Union scholars over the last 20 years. It is a hotly debated issue since criminal law has for centuries been thought of as the heart of every sovereign state´s legal system.
    The subject under discussion in this thesis is the police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters within the EU and the EEA. An emphasis was put on firstly, the third pillars legal framework and how it has developed from its beginning with the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 to the amendments, which will occur with the newest amendment treaty in the EU, the Lisbon Treaty. Secondly, the institutional framework of this pillar, whereby the role of all the Community institutions and the agencies established in this field was looked into. Special attention was paid to the role of the European Court of Justice and its judicial activism in this area. Thirdly, the author of this thesis made an honest attempt at describing the connection between the police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters in EU and the European Economic Area as well as Icelandic Law.
    The third pillar started out as an intergovernmental cooperation under the heading of the Maastricht Treaty, as can be viewed from its legal and institutional framework. However, soon the subject of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters began climbing up the “intergovernmental ladder.” With the Amsterdam Treaty in 1997, supranational characteristics were inserted into this field of law, such as increased competence for the European Court of Justice and the European Parliament.
    Bearing in mind this hybrid nature of the third pillar, it was only time until some of the unanswered questions concerning the police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters would end up on the table of the European Court of Justice. With judicial activism the Court attempted to provide more legal guarantees in this area of law, as the third pillar had been criticised harshly because of its lack of democratic, judicial and human rights control. By making use of the principle of effectiveness and by extending its jurisdiction, the Court of Justice has, for example, introduced the principle of indirect effect and the protection of human rights in the third pillar.
    The merger of all three pillars of the EU will occur with the entering into force of the Lisbon Treaty. Thereby the police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters will be brought under the auspices of Community law and normal EC rules will apply to the third pillar; for example the co-decision procedure, regular EC legal instruments will be used and Court of Justice will have full powers.
    In Part II it was observed that although the EEA Agreement does not include cooperation in third pillar issues, there are nevertheless, two indications of the so-called European Criminal Law tiptoeing into the legal systems of the EFTA/EEA states. In first place, when the EFTA/EEA states apply voluntarily the same penalties for environmental crimes as the EU states. Secondly, the recently adopted directive 2008/99/EC on the protection of the environmental through criminal law is classified as having EEA relevance. It remains to be seen how that matter will be handled by the EFTA/EEA states.
    Additionally, Iceland participates with the EU in the field of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters through the Schengen cooperation and various bilateral agreements. Furthermore, EU legislation has directly impacted Icelandic legislation, as was noted with the terrorist act amendment to the Icelandic Criminal Code. It is quite interesting that Iceland participates quite much in the sensitive area of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters within the EU without being a member state of the Union.

  • 6.5.2009

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