Crime and the EU's Constitutional Future in an Area of Freedom, Security, and Justice

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The European Union is finalising negotiations in respect of a constitution that will define its identity and future. The draft constitution begins with a quote from Thucydides ‘Our constitution . . . is called a democracy because power is in the hands not of a minority but of the greatest number’. 1 In this article I look at the proposed constitutional framework of the European Union from the perspective of the gradual realisation of measures in criminal law capable of affecting the lives of individuals. The central question is to what extent the Union is providing itself with the tools to achieve democratic exercise of the power to maintain order and to punish individuals within a single area of freedom, security, and justice. Within the draft constitution an ambiguity arises as regards the principles which underlie this part of the project: mutual recognition and approximation. Mutual recognition of national decisions maintains power within the borders of the state, approximation leads towards a consolidation of power. The extent to which the constitution pulls in two rather different directions and the consequences for the individual are examined here.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2004

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