On 21 September 2011, the European Commission issued a guidance on a coordinated criminal law policy for EU member states. This guidance stems from the 2009 Lisbon Treaty and sets out a new strategy on how the EU and the member states can work together to put in place a coherent and consistent EU criminal policy. Common principles for EU countries include:

  • criminal law must remain a last resort
  • sanctions should be limited to particularly serious offences
  • new criminal law measures must respect fundamental rights
  • criminal law measures and sanctions must be backed up by clear factual evidence, proportionate to the crime and taken at local, national or EU level as appropriate

Minimum rules on criminal law should prevent criminals who operate across borders from escaping prosecution. These minimum rules relate to:

  • 'Euro crimes' such as terrorism, trafficking in human beings and sexual exploitation of women and children, illicit drug trafficking, illicit arms trafficking, money laundering, corruption, counterfeiting of means of payment, computer crime and organised crime
  • criminal law for the enforcement of EU policies
  • protection of EU public money