EU criminal law and fundamental rights

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The chapter first offers a background analysis to EU fundamental rights law, recalling the historical affirmation of the protection of fundamental rights as a EU concern, and the important innovation brought about by the Lisbon Treaty (section 2) and the multiplicity of actors involved in the system of fundamental rights protection in the EU (section 3). The aim is to demonstrate that the EU indeed has an important tradition and a great number of actors involved in the field. Subsequently the chapter turns to the main instrument of protection of fundamental rights, namely the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’). First, it explains its scope of application, and its interaction with other sources of fundamental rights protection, and it shows that the system is potentially very protective (section 4). Moving on, the chapter examines the practical application of the Charter, and its interaction with EU criminal law norms, demonstrating that in fact the Court of Justice of the European union (CJEU) tends to give precedence to the effectiveness of EU criminal law over fundamental rights (section 5). Furthermore, the chapter addresses the content of the Charter (section 6) and then goes deeper into the criminal law related provision in the Charter, in particular the presumption of innocence (section 7), the right to a fair trial (section 8), privacy and data protection (section 10), and proportionality and legality (section 10). The last section (section 11) provides some conclusive remarks, evaluating the interaction between fundamental rights and EU criminal law, and calling for a further refinement of this interaction.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Handbook on EU Criminal Law
EditorsV. Mitsilegas, M. Bergström, Th. Konstadinides
PublisherEdwar Elgar Publishing Ltd
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)978 1 78347 331 1
ISBN (Print)978 1 78347 330 4
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Fundamental rights


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