Willem Pompe Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology
Conference ‘Choice of forum in cooperation against EU financial crime: freedom, security and justice & the protection of specific EU-interests’
Date: 19 and 20 April 2012
This event was co-financed by the European Commission (OLAF) under the Hercule II Programme and the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) under the Innovational Research Incentives Scheme. The conference was organized in close cooperation with OLAF and Eurojust.
Criminal justice is no longer only about setting criminal rules and applying them within the Nation-State but has become a substantial part of the European Union’s Area of Freedom, Security and Justice. Harmonization of criminal law and criminal procedure, tackling serious cross-border crime and fraud against the financial interests of the EU , and procedural guarantees are high on the EU’s policy and legislative agenda. EU legislation increasingly imposes EU-wide jurisdiction obligations on its Member States.
In cross-border criminal cases, the decision on which state will commence investigations and bring cases to trial is taken after horizontal mutual consultation and/or within European institutions, agencies and networks, including, in particular, Eurojust. Member States are obliged to provide judicial follow-ups to fraud-reports by OLAF, but there are no clear jurisdictional rules on how to do so.
Although all these developments represent a new and pressing phenomenon, there is no clear framework for choice of forum. Consequently, law enforcement agencies enjoy a great deal of discretion. This may lead to negative conflicts of jurisdiction in which no Member State takes action. It may also adversely affect the principle of mutual recognition and facilitate forum shopping, by defendants and/or state authorities.
From the point of view of both effective law enforcement as legal protection, choice of forum therefore raises questions of high practical and academic relevance. Concepts that were previously used to define the parameters for and limits of state sovereignty – territory, citizenship and state power (ius puniendi) – now have European counterparts in the form of the Area of Freedom Security and Justice (as a territorial entity), European citizenship and, once again, the AFSJ (this time as an objective of the EU) respectively. These concepts need to be reconciled.
This project - conference and the conference proceedings – address the central question whether or not a revised conceptual framework is needed for choice of forum.