December 09
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Coopération opérationnelle en droit pénal de l’Union européenne

Carole Billet and Araceli Turmo

review by

Leandro Mancano

Coopération opérationnelle en droit pénal de l’Union européenne, edited by Carole Billet and Araceli Turmo, provides an important contribution to the debate about operational cooperation in the EU. The book consists of 10 chapters, other than the editors’ foreword.

The first chapter, by Anne Weyemberh, is entitled La création et le développement de la coopération opérationnelle en droit pénal de l’UE. She focuses on the notion of operational cooperation, and offers an enriching overview of the evolution of that area of law. The author assesses the existing legal framework in a nuanced way: while there are important achievements to acknowledge, certain limits (e.g. in the area of exchange of information) remain. 

François-Xavier Roux-Demare’s chapter revolves around the lacunae in operational cooperation, and highlights the Member States’ mistrust as well as the need to improve professional training on EU criminal law at national level. Flaws emerge at the EU level as well, and concern notably certain unaccomplished goals and the broken ambitions in terms of, for instance, exchange of information. 

Éliette Rubi-Cavagna asks questions about the existence of a common model for the instruments of mutual recognition. The chapter discusses the way in which these instruments facilitate cooperation, and concludes that there are still limits and reasons of uncertainty, for example with regard to fundamental rights protection. 

The chapter by Montaldo and Rosanò revolves around the Framework Decision (transfer of prisoners) and the challenges linked to its implementation. The authors show the qualitative and quantitative difficulties connected to the use of such an instrument by national authorities. Primarily, there is the disregard by the latter authorities for the purposes of reintegration, on which the measure is based. 

Camille Leroy exhaustively describes the impact of European Arrest Warrant (EAW) litigation on operational cooperation. That litigation has worked as a vector of a conceptual redefinition of internal criminal law, as well as of certain aspects of the EAW. Furthermore, the latter instrument has triggered an important legislative process in the area of procedural rights.

Louise Seiler develops reflections on the ambitions and the shortcomings of the new model of operational cooperation embodied by the European Public Prosecutor Office. On the one hand, the clearer division of competences between EPPO and other Agencies (OLAF, Eurojust, Europol) laid down in EU law has somehow limited the operational support that those Agencies can provide to the EPPO. On the other, the success of the EPPO will be largely dependent on horizontal cooperation between national authorities.

Valsamis Mitsilegas and Foivi Mouzakiti shed light on the different levels of operational cooperation through databases (at EU and inter-state level, as well as the involvement of private parties). Reliance on these instruments and the method of cooperation, particularly in the context of the fight against terrorism and immigration control, results in serious concerns in terms of fundamental rights protection.

Chloé Brière clarifies certain aspects of exchange of information between four bodies operating in EU criminal law (Europol, Eurojust, OLAF and EPPO), and emphasises – among other things – the importance of mutual trust among the national and European actors involved.

The chapter by Rosanna Amato and Marco Velcogna homes in on the infrastructural growth of EU digital justice. They discuss the cross-border models and instruments of cooperation, and the approach adopted by the latter to facilitate the exchange of information and coordination of actions. 

The book ends with concluding remarks by Stefan Braum, who looks at the emerging trends in the EU over the last years: the transformation of EU criminal law, the erosion of the rule of law, and the ‘judicialisation’ of cooperation.

This is a very timely and important volume on operational cooperation in the EU. The rigour of its contributions, its broad scope and its excellent readability make this book a work destined to survive the test of time.


Leandro Mancano is Senior Lecturer in EU Law at the Edinburgh Law School and UK’s Deputy Contact Point for the European Criminal Law Academic Network.



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