Critical voices are increasingly raised concerning whether EU action aimed mainly at harmonising Member States’ criminal procedural laws is sufficient to achieve the above-mentioned objectives. This area is incredibly complex to regulate. It requires expertise in forensic science, psychology, policing and other relevant disciplines. It also requires careful balancing of the various interests and values involved, such as the protection of individual freedoms versus effective law enforcement. Another difficulty is to determine the role of legal regulation, as opposed to ‘soft regulation’ or other measures, in achieving the goals of bringing Member States' criminal justice systems closer to the ‘vision’ embedded in the EU area of freedom, security and justice. Certain concepts, such as ‘vulnerability’ in criminal proceedings, are very difficult, if not impossible, to regulate by law in any meaningful detail. National laws can provide a general definition of ‘vulnerability’; the question then remains how to ensure that national criminal justice institutions adequately deal with vulnerabilities in their daily practice.
The goal of this conference is to identify the impediments to improving cooperation in the area of criminal matters. The method is to bring together experts from various disciplines to discuss the challenges in the ‘harmonisation’ of the criminal procedural systems of the EU Member States by means of legislation.
The following challenges will be discussed:
-Defining certain interdisciplinary concepts, such as ‘risk’, ‘vulnerability’, ‘proof’ or ‘procedural justice' for the purposes of EU legal regulation;
-Determining the paths for ensuring proper enforcement of these concepts: legislation, policy or other paths (including: to what extent these matters could be left to the individual discretion of criminal justice actors)?
-Enforcing the respective regulations and other measures in practice: What are the most important obstacles (culture, lack of expertise/training, funding, etc.)? What is our ‘theory of change’ with respect to enforcement by Member States’ governments, national criminal justice institutions, and individual criminal justice actors?
The conference will focus on those concepts, which raise important interdisciplinary questions, and which are subject to the current or prospective EU regulation.