The Council of the European Union agrees on position for the transfer of criminal proceedings beyond national borders.
In a significant development, the Council has reached a crucial negotiating position (general approach) on a proposed EU law concerning the transfer of proceedings in criminal matters. The objectives of this proposal are to address the challenges posed by cross-border crimes, prevent unnecessary parallel proceedings, and enhance the efficiency of criminal justice administration across member states.
It is necessary to adapt national judicial systems to effectively combat the impact of criminal acts that affect several EU countries, as the Spanish minister for justice, Félix Bolaños stated. The agreed-upon member state position is viewed as a pivotal step towards fortifying the EU justice system, ensuring effectiveness, and safeguarding fundamental rights.
With the agreed-upon position, the Council is now poised to start negotiations with the European Parliament once they settle on their position. Then, they will collaboratively craft a common legal text addressing the complexities of cross-border criminal proceedings.
Key features of the proposed regulation
The proposed regulation, once adopted, will establish comprehensive rules for the transfer of criminal proceedings between member states. The primary goals include improving the respect for fundamental rights throughout the transfer process, enhancing efficiency, and providing legal certainty. Notably, the regulation aims to prevent impunity in cases where the surrender of an individual under a European Arrest Warrant is refused.
In the future, member states will decide to request the transfer of proceedings based on a set of common criteria. These criteria include the location of the criminal offence, the nationality or residence of suspects or accused persons, and the presence of relevant evidence or witnesses in the member state to which the proceedings are to be transferred.
The regulation imposes obligations on member states concerning the rights of suspects, accused persons, and victims during the decision-making process for transferring proceedings. The country receiving the request must communicate its decision – whether to accept or refuse the transfer – within 60 days, with the possibility of a 30-day extension.
To ensure fairness, suspects, accused persons, and victims will have the right to seek effective legal remedy against the decision to transfer criminal proceedings. This right can be exercised in the country to which the proceedings are transferred. A specific time limit of 20 days is set for seeking legal remedy, and the Council emphasises a swift and timely final decision within 60 days where possible.
Why this is relevant for EMERITUS
The reached position of the Council has broader implications that are in line with the objectives of the EMERITUS project, particularly in the context of cross-border investigations such as those related to waste crimes. The regulation’s focus on organised crime, often extending beyond borders, aligns with the challenges in waste trafficking, where profits are made by exploiting cross-border loopholes. Additionally, EMERITUS, with its emphasis on cross-border police collaboration, shares a common objective with the proposed regulation.
The Council’s unanimous position on the transfer of criminal proceedings signifies a crucial step towards a more effective, harmonised, and rights-respecting EU justice system. In conclusion, the EMERITUS project is in line with the proposed EU Regulation and the legal need to facilitate the creation of a robust framework for tackling the challenges posed by cross-border organised crime, ultimately working towards a safer and fairer European Union.
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