Valsamis Mitsilegas, Sergio Carrera and Katharina Eisele (Centre for European Policy Studies)
The Treaty of Lisbon introduced innovations also to the area of police and judicial cooperation, which had formed the Third Pillar of EU primary law. The five-year transitional period for the Member States to adopt measures enabling the expansion of the EU institutions’ powers ended on 1 December 2014. The transitional period enshrined in Protocol 36 of the new Treaty limited some of the new powers of the European Commission and the Court of Justice in Luxembourg for a period of five years. The United Kingdom, as usual, does not participate in the former Third Pillar, as it had negotiated opt-out possibilities within the scope of the new powers.
One of the principal innovations is the change in the nature of the police and judicial cooperation. It shifts from the “intergovernmentalism” to the “supranationalism”, mainly due to the new competence of the Commission to scrutinize the rulings of the Member States’ judiciary and possibly impose countermeasures in case of their slow acting or low efficiency. British opt-out, as well as implementation of the transitional measures, clearly show the disunity among Member States in their willingness to delegate the police and justice powers to the Union’s institutions. The current arrangement does not deal with some of the problems that the European justice area faces. The most obvious problems are especially the legitimacy of the measures adopted across European states and the lack of transparency of the instruments that they have at their disposal. Another fundamental problem is the variability of the detained suspects’ rights across different Member States.
This study offers several solutions to the shortcomings in the justice area. Firstly, the European Parliament should get more involved in these issues and seek to develop considerable pressure on the Commission to ensure greater unity of the adopted measures and compliance with the practical operability of the system. A special case is the United Kingdom and the EU’s efforts to persuade it to participate in the former Third Pillar in order to ensure coherence in the Union. The Parliament should, through its LIBE Committee, pursue the intergovernmental approach in the measures leading to the adoption of European Arrest Warrant. Member States can also contribute by providing assessment reports on the entire system operability through an independent evaluation mechanism.
(The study can be downloaded here)