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Ne bis in idem and Tax Offences
How Belgium Adapted its Legislation to the Recent Case Law of the ECtHR and the CJEU
For decades, Belgian fiscal criminal law was governed by the fundamental principle that there had to be an absolute separation between the administrative tax investigations by tax authorities and criminal prosecutions carried out by the public prosecutor. In the light of the recent case law of the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union on the duality of administrative and criminal proceedings, this principle could no longer be upheld. A new law passed on 5 May 2019 brought Belgian legislation in line with this supranational case law. A consultation mechanism (introduced in 2012) between the tax administration and the prosecution service to give guidance to tax investigations, has been made more efficient.
In order to respect the “ne is in idem” principle, criminal courts must now take into account administrative sanctions of a criminal nature when sentencing tax crimes. The competences of the tax ... Read more
The use of minimum maximum penalties in order to harmonise criminal sanctions under Art. 83 TFEU has proven little effective so far. A project by the European Criminal Policy Initiative (ECPI), which was concluded recently, demonstrates that a reasonable harmonisation of sanctions must be preferably based on a system of relative comparability. Such a system would allow for an internal consistency of each national model, while simultaneously granting the European Union the possibility to classify the harmonised offences into a predetermined number of categories and by this means create a systematic and hierarchic rapport between the offences harmonised under EU law. This “category model” is ready for further development, and could theoretically even be a first step towards a system of supranational penalties.Read more
Editorial Guest Editorial eucrim 1/2019
Twenty years have passed since the EU heads of state and government came together in Tampere and agreed that the principle of mutual recognition should become the cornerstone of judicial cooperation in criminal matters between the EU Member States. This was followed by the adoption of an ambitious list of mutual recognition instruments for the pre-trial, trial, and post-trial phases, which all reflect the same basic notions: direct contact between judicial authorities, uniform templates, short deadlines, a duty to recognise and execute (subject to limited grounds for refusal), and a presumption of mutual trust.Read more
Fighting Terrorism through the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO)?
What future for the EPPO in the EU’s Criminal Policy?
The EPPO was established by Regulation 2017/1939, which entered into force on 20 November 2017, under enhanced cooperation to fight crimes affecting the Union budget. The Office is currently in the set-up phase with the aim of becoming operational at the end of 2020. On 12 September 2018, the Commission published a Communication on the extension of the EPPO’s competences to cross-border terrorist crimes and invited the European Council to take this initiative forward at the informal summit in Sibiu on 9 May 2019. As a single, decentralised European prosecution office, the EPPO could become an effective tool in investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgement terrorist crimes and add a European dimension to the current efforts. Compared to the present horizontal, multinational approach, the EPPO would create a vertical, European relationship amongst the Member States and Union actors. This could be a decisive qualitative improvement, which would help overcoming the ... Read more
Legal and Practical Challenges in the Application of the European Investigation Order
Summary of the Eurojust Meeting of 19–20 September 2018
After implementation of Directive 2014/41 by the EU Member States (bound by the Directive) in 2017 and the first half of 2018, the European Investigation Order (EIO) has become the core instrument for obtaining evidence located in another EU Member State. The EIO simplifies and accelerates cross-border investigations, but practical and legal challenges remain. Such challenges as well as first experiences and best practices in the application of the EIO were discussed among practitioners at a meeting organised by Eurojust in September 2018. This article summarises the main results of the meeting.
Participants acknowledged the need to interpret national law in light of EU law, in line with the principles of mutual recognition and mutual trust, but also underlined the challenge of constantly searching for legally sound and practically feasible solutions between different national legal systems. They agreed on the importance of an overall pragmatic and flexible approach. Views diverged ... Read more
The European Investigation Order and its Relationship with Other Judicial Cooperation Instruments
Establishing Rules on the Scope and Possibilities of Application
The European Investigation Order (EIO) is a major step forward in judicial cooperation in criminal matters within the EU. It has become the main legal tool to gather trans-border evidence, replacing the traditional MLA conventions mainly used for this purpose so far. It co-exists with other instruments, however, which can also be used under certain conditions. This article analyses the EIO Directive and draws rules that guide practitioners as to when EIOs are necessary, when they are merely convenient, and when they cannot be used at all. The article defines a Basic Rule, a Replacement Rule, and a Compatibility Rule, which aim at making the legal scenario easier for practitioners to navigate. In an excursus, the article also deals with the question whether the speciality principle as known in tradition mutual legal assistance cooperation is also applicable to the EIO. The author argues that the speciality principle has not been ... Read more