EU Fair Trial Rights – Progress at Last

AuthorJ.R. Spencer
Published date01 December 2010
Date01 December 2010
Subject MatterArticle
New Journal of Eur opean Crimina l Law, Vol. 1, Issue 4, 2010 447
PRoGRess At LAst
J.R. S*
is article discusses current moves to secure the bette r protection of suspects and
defendants in crimina l cases by means of EU legislation.
Back in 1997, the Corpus Juris group put forward a blue-print for a “vertical” solution
to the problem of trans-border crime with the Eu ropean Union.1 As readers w ill
remember, the proposal was for a u niform code of cr iminal oences relating to
budgetary fraud, to be enforced by a European Public Prosecutor according to a
uniform code of cr iminal procedure. ough put forwa rd within the lim ited context
of frauds against the EC budget, the basic ideas were in pr inciple capable of a w ider
application. e proposal attracted a lot of opposition from within the Member States,
one of the rec urrent arguments being that the proposal was authoritarian a nd likely
to be unfair to suspects who were caught up in it. To me, as one of the members of the
group t hat draed the proposa l, this particular objection to the “vertical solution”
always seemed par ticularly misconceived. A co de of criminal procedure t hat applied
uniformly throughout the whole of the European Union would carry with it a uniform
set of rights for the defendant which, if intell igently dra ed, could actually be an
improvement on what some of the existing national systems are prepa red to give
As everybody knows, the “vertical ” solution was rejected, and instead the Member
States tu rned towards a “horizontal ” solution. According to th is, the pract ical
diculties of prosecuting crimes wit h a trans-border element would instead be solved
by a new system of “mutual recognit ion”, under which, in future, t he criminal courts
* QC, LLD, Professor of L aw, University of Cambridge.
1 CORPUS JURIS, Introduc ing Penal Provisions for the Pur pose of the Financial Interests of the
European Union, Edit ions Economica, Paris (1997) (sous la direct ion de Mireille Delmas-Ma rty). A
revised ver sion of the project appe ared in 2000 , together with a three-volume suppor ting study, as
e Implementation of the Corpus Juri s in the Member States (edited by M. Delmas-Mar ty and J.A.E.
Vervaele), (Intersentia, Ant werp, Groningen and Ox ford).

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