Judicial cooperation in criminal matters is developed primarily between the competent authorities of member states, as through the Eurojust unit, and it includes, among other things, the mutual judicial cooperation in criminal matters, the mutual recognition of judicial decisions, the approximation of penal legislation of member states, including the penalties in the sectors of organised crime, terrorism, and illegal trafficking of human being and drugs. Judicial cooperation in criminal matters, till now, is developed with the adoption of a) common positions that determine the approach of the European Union concerning a particular subject, b) framework decisions that form guidelines for the approach of the legislative and regulatory statutes of the member states, c) decisions, d) conventions. The framework decisions commit the member states to the attainment of a common goal, but at the same time are free to choose the means by which to achieve these goals. The decisions, as legal acts, do not produce immediate results, and are supplemented by application measures. The conventions are standard acts of international law and after the Amsterdam Treaty, the conventions become valid from the moment they have been ratified by at least half of the Member- States unless otherwise provided.
The Lisbon Treaty (The Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, 2009) provides that the judicial cooperation in criminal matters is applied only by directives (see articles 82 & 83 of Lisbon Treaty) and has been communitarized. The most important novelty of the new Treaty is that the decision making process in the area of freedom, security and justice is based on the “usual legislative procedure” i.e. Commission’s proposal, qualified majority and co-decision with the European Parliament. In some cases (e.g. judicial cooperation in criminal matters, police cooperation) a Member State may ask the matter to be submitted to the European Council in order to decide on the consent. If consent is not attained then at 9 Member-States may, if the desire to, establish enhanced cooperation in this area.
Also in the new Treaty, there is the provision for the creation of a European Prosecutor’s Office, which may include in its competencies the issues of the fight against serious crime with transnational dimension, with the unanimous decision of the European Council.
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THE EUROPEAN UNION AND THE MINISTRY OF JUSTICE, TRANSPARENCY AND HUMAN RIGHTS