2021 - Turning point for the EU and EU Criminal Law?

Published date01 December 2021
Date01 December 2021
New Journal of European Criminal Law
2021, Vol. 12(4) 505507
© The Author(s) 2021
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/20322844211061548
2021 - Turning point for the EU
and EU Criminal Law?
EPPO, rule of law, procedural safeguards, brexit, federal union
If I were to use a word to describe 2021, I would probably use uncertainty. The pandemic is likely
the main cause for this - possibly too subjective - feeling. But beyond the pandemic, a few further
events aggravate this sense of uncertainty when looking from the prism of an EU criminal lawyer.
2021 was the year in which the transitional period following Brexit expired and the new legal
framework governing the relations between the EU and the UK entered into force
. Other than the
fuzziness of some legal provisions governing this special relation (and some doubts raised about the
jurisdiction of the EU in relation to an agreement with a now third-state regarding cooperation in
criminal matters), the uncertainty of the practical implications of the UKs loss of membership to
a federal Union somehow gives me both as a practitioner and as an academic a sense of ambiguity.While
in a way opening the doors to our imagination and creative capacity, in another way it leaves our clients
and their lives on hold. It also creates a sense of insecurity and uncertainty for EU citizens as to whether
after all this project of a perennial and solidary Union is nothing more than an unfulllable aspiration.
2021 was also the year in which the European Public ProsecutorsOfce (EPPO) nally entered
operations. As an EU citizen, I am enthusiastic to see an institution come to light, which implements
a further step in this ever-closer union of Europeans. I see it as paramount that the EPPO establishes
itself as a strong, fair and reputable European institution. A symbol of the rule of law, justice and
transparency inthe EU. However, I fear that the legal framework adopted following difcult political
negotiationsand pragmatic consensus is not sufcientto reach this ultimate purpose, having remained
short of creating a fully-edged European body. Indeed, as an EU criminal lawyer and practitioner,
reading the EPPO Regulation
Ind myself again in a room full of fuzziness and uncertainty.
For example, in the realm of defence rights, I am concerned to see beautiful forms of words or
proclamations of principles, such as: the activities of the EPPO shall be carried out in full
1. Trade andCooperation Agreement betweenthe European Union and the European AtomicEnergy Community,of the one
part, and the UnitedKingdom of Great Britain and NorthernIreland, of the other part, [2021] OJ L 149/10,< https://eur-lex.
3ATOC> accessed04 November 2021. Also, see MitsilegasV. Anewspecialrelationshipora damage limitation exercise?
EUUK criminal justice cooperation after Brexit(2021) 12 (2) New Journal of European Criminal Law 105
2. Council Regulation (EU) 2017/1939 of 12 October 2017 implementing enhanced cooperation on the establishment of the
European Public ProsecutorsOfce (the EPPO).

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