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EU to streamline transfers of legal proceedings
Pic: European Commission

05 Apr 2023 / eu Print

EU to streamline transfers of legal proceedings

The European Commission has announced plans for new rules aimed at preventing the duplication of legal proceedings in criminal cases across the EU.

EU member states currently transfer criminal proceedings between themselves using a variety of different legal instruments, rather than a uniform legal framework.

The EU body said that increasing cross-border crime had led to more cases where several member states had jurisdiction to prosecute the same case.

“Parallel or multiple prosecutions can be inefficient and ineffective, but also possibly detrimental to the rights of the individuals concerned, as a person may not be prosecuted or punished for the same offence twice,” the commission said.


Its proposal is aimed at helping to prevent duplications of proceedings, and avoiding cases of impunity where surrender under a European Arrest Warrant is refused.

The commission also wants to ensure that criminal proceedings are conducted in the member state best-placed to deal with them.

The common rules will include:

  • A list of common criteria for transfer of proceedings, as well as grounds for refusing the transfer of proceedings.
  • A time limit for a decision on the transfer of proceedings,
  • Rules on costs for translation, and on the effects of the transfer of proceedings,
  • Obligations on rights for the suspects and accused persons, as well as victims,
  • Rules on the use of cross-border digital channels for communication between competent authorities.

The proposed regulation also provides for jurisdiction in specific cases.

Greater certainty

The commission said that it expected the measure to reduce the level of fragmentation, provide greater legal certainty, and eventually increase the number of successfully transferred criminal proceedings.

“Criminal activities change and adapt to new circumstances, and so must our tools to tackle them,” said Didier Reynders (Commissioner for Justice, pictured).

“It is crucial that we continue to modernise our justice system to ensure that it is prepared to respond to current challenges, particularly in an increasingly border-less Europe,” he added.

Current arrangements

The proposals will now be discussed by the European Parliament and the EU Council.

The commission said that most EU states currently relied on the 1959 European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, but it pointed out that, under this agreement, transfers were largely unregulated, and subject to national laws.

A European Convention on the Transfer of Proceedings in Criminal Matters, agreed in 1972, was ratified and applied only by 13 member states.

EU states also signed an agreement on the transfer of proceedings in criminal matters in 1990, but it has not entered into force.

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