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Programme of measures to implement the principle of mutual recognition of decisions in criminal matters

In November 2000, the JHA Council adopted its "programme of measures" to implement the principle of "mutual recognition of decisions in criminal matters". The mutual recognition principle is that "decisions taken in one member state should be accepted as valid in any other member state and put into effect on a reciprocal basis". In adopting the programme, the Council met the deadline set at the Tampere summit (October 1999), where political agreement was reached on the use of the mutual recognition principle for integrating EU judicial systems. The programme is divided into four fields and comprises 23 far-reaching measures. Each measure has a priority rating for implementation, and each potentially requires specific EU legislation.

Summary of proposals

Recognising final criminal court judgments

1. reconsidering the "ne bis in idem" or "double jeopardy" principle
2. foreign convictions relevant to domestic judgments
3. standard form for application for criminal records information
4. feasibility study on a European criminal records database

Enforcement of pre-trial orders

5. orders for obtaining evidence by coercion (search warrants etc.)
6/7. immediate enforcement of orders from another member state to freeze evidence or assets
8. arrest warrants/removal of reservations in extradition agreements; long term aim of creating a "single European area for extradition"
9/10. immediate enforcement of orders from another member regarding pre-trial non-custodial supervision
11. rules to settle jurisdictional disputes among the member states (through Eurojust)
12. European central casebook for investigations and prosecutions


13/14. establish the principle of either 'enforce the sentence or extradite the person concerned' in regard to member states who refuse to extradite their own nationals; possible new EU convention for mutual recognition/enforcement of prison sentences
15/16. simplified procedure for transfer of fugitives and "extradite or enforce" principle; member states to transfer persons "resident" in their territories
17. enforcement of traffic fines across the EU (based on existing Schengen provisions)
18. mechanism for enforcement of non-payment of other criminal law fines
19. remove grounds for non-enforcement of confiscation orders
20-22. draw up common-list of disqualification measures/offences and rules to make them enforceable across the EU; includes possible extension of bans on entering a country to the whole EU

Post-sentencing follow-up decisions

23. enforcement of post-sentencing orders (probation/parole etc.) across the EU

Civil liberties groups have criticised the programme, arguing that it will enhance law enforcement powers without providing the necessary guarantees for suspects and defendants. In a background document, the French Presidency has suggested that the EU should be able to implement the programme by 2005. Work on the mutual recognition and enforcement of decisions relating to the freezing of assets has been underway since mid-2000.

type: Programme

Reference number: 12

Issue date: 29-09-00

Official Journal: OJ C 12, 15.1.2001, pp. 10–22


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