Cooperation in criminal matters

Judicial cooperation at European level involves facilitating cooperation between legal practitioners (judges, prosecutors and defence lawyers) and their counterparts in other Member States, improving mutual recognition of judicial decisions in criminal matters from one Member State to another, developing – where necessary - approximation of procedural and substantive legislation, monitoring the application of adopted legislation, and taking account of the external relations aspects of criminal justice (relations with non-EU countries).

The Stockholm Programme sets out a new list of objectives for the period 2010-2014:

  • to develop instruments implementing the mutual recognition principle in each phase of criminal proceedings;
  • to approximate national procedural law and substantive law where necessary to improve mutual trust and mutual recognition;
  • to develop common minimum standards to ensure that trials are fair throughout the EU;
  • to develop and assist EU bodies or instruments of judicial cooperation such as EUROJUST and the European Judicial Network in criminal matters;
  • to improve mutual confidence between EU national judicial systems by developing a European judicial culture through training and networking of legal practitioners;
  • to monitor the implementation of EU laws that have already been adopted;
  • to take account of external aspects of EU judicial cooperation (for example negotiation of agreements with non-EU countries, evaluation of judicial systems of countries applying for - or considering applying for - EU membership)

The EU has adopted several legislative instruments in accordance with the principle of mutual recognition – please consult relevant subpages to find more information on:

Three directives have been adopted to develop common minimum standards to ensure fair trial rights:

Last update: 19/08/2015

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