European Criminal Law in light of the Stockholm Programme

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06 June 2012

From 21-24 May 2012 high-level police officials convened at the German Police University on a CEPOL course to discuss recent developments in European Criminal Law with regard to the Stockholm Program. The aim of the course, hosted in Münster-Hiltrup by Prof. Dr. Peter Rackow and supported by Austria and Poland, was to gain valuable insights into European Crime Politics from various perspectives of the practice and the academic sphere focusing on several assorted, characteristic and interrelated issues referring to the “area of freedom, justice and security” during the period 2010-14 which is set out in the Stockholm Programme of the European Union.

Beside the lecturers from Austria, Poland, Europol and Germany, 24 representatives from 17 EU Member States attended the course.

Day one started with an opening by Mr. Thielmann, vice-president of the German Police University, followed by an introduction into the seminar’s program by the head of the department of Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure and Crime Politics, Professor Dr. Peter Rackow. A presentation by Dr. Jan Ellermann, Data Protection Officer at Europol, focused on first-hand experience and expertise, providing a sound insight to the challenges regarding the realization of European prerequisites in his field. The course continued with a speech by Prof. Dr. Mark Zöller, Director of the Institute for German and European Criminal Procedure law and Police law at the University of Trier, entitled “The Exchange of Law Enforcement Data between the Member States for the Improvement of Cooperation within the European Union”. Given that data protection and data exchange are based on the principle of availability, both speeches led to abundant sharing of information between the participants and the speakers.

“Mutual recognition of financial penalties” was the title of the presentation given by Dr Tomasz Milkowski, Teacher at the Police School in Katowice, Poland, that turned the attention from “availability” to “mutual recognition” and wrapped up the day’s activities.

On the course’s second day, Prof Dr Fritz Zeder, Federal Ministry of Justice from Vienna, provided his special experience on policy-cycle-dynamics related to the implementation of roadmaps such as the Stockholm Programme with “Implications of the creation of a European Prosecutor’s Office”. Prof. Zeder addressed the many detailed questions which have to be solved should the EU decide to establish a European Prosecutor’s Office. There after Detective Chief Superintendent Lars Wagner of the German Police University delivered a valuable impression of how challenging the realisation of judicial decisions in practice can be. Based on his experiences as head of the anti-terrorism section of the EULEX mission, his presentation focused on the EULEX Kosovo mission, which aims at giving help and counsel on the construction of police, judiciary and administration in Kosovo.

In order to actively include the course participants, groups were setup and led by Detective Chief Superintendent Wagner and asked to answer goal-directed questions on the Stockholm Programme. Subsequent to discussing the questions within their groups, the participants compiled answers including personal experience and presented them. This proved to be a good opportunity to discuss the matter in depth.

The focus of day three remained on “mutual recognition” with Dr Liane Wörner from the University of Giessen, presenting “Current state of affairs regarding the European Arrest Warrant”. The lecture by Prof Peter Rackow entitled “Initiatives to Enhance Mutual Cooperation in the field of Evidence Gathering and Admissibility” was followed by a second working-group session, which discussed aspects of the principles of availability and mutual recognition and the necessity of a European Prosecutor’s Office. Discussions led to integrated insights, assessments and opinions on the different thematic areas of the state of matters regarding European Criminal Law.

Questions regarding the protection of sensitive data whilst at the same time enabling effective exchange of information between countries, as well as problems related to diverse handling of EU prerequisites were in the fore. Generally, it was broadly agreed that mutual trust is one of the crucial features needed in order to achieve successful trans-national cooperation.

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