EU strategy on criminal justice

Objectives of a common strategy

To combat crime efficiently, the criminal justice authorities of EU countries need to work together. Ultimately, in a common European area of justice national law enforcers and judiciaries will be able to trust and rely on each other.

This will increase people’s confidence in the fairness of proceedings, knowing that their rights are protected when they have to appear in court in another country, or if they fall victim to a crime.

Added value of EU rules

Action at EU level in this field is crucial for a number of reasons

* Serious organised crime is often committed across borders. To prevent ‘safe havens’ for criminals, EU countries’ laws should be more aligned

* If people can trust that their rights are respected, in all EU countries, if they are suspected or accused of a crime, they are more likely to use their right to live, work or study in another EU country

* Common rules strengthen mutual trust between the judiciaries of different EU countries. This makes cooperation and mutual recognition of decisions easier across the EU

* EU criminal law helps to prevent and punish serious offences, for example environmental crime

Protecting the rights of suspects and accused

Much progress has been made to date, as the EU has adopted 6 directives on procedural rights for suspects and accused persons as set out in the roadmap of 2009. The EU established rules on

* the right to information which applies across the EU since 2 June 2014,

* the right to interpretation and translation which applies across the EU since 27 October 2015,

* Right to have a lawyer, which applies across the EU since 27 November 2016,

* the right to be presumed innocent and to be present at trial,

* special safeguards for children suspected and accused in criminal proceedings

* the right to legal aid


European Commission, (01.10.2020)

European Commission, (21.01.2020)


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