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The evolution of European Union criminal law (1957-2012)

Chaves, Mariana (2012) The evolution of European Union criminal law (1957-2012). PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis addresses the nature of European Union criminal law (ECL). It claims that ECL has evolved along two main expanding dynamics, both with a significant punitive emphasis. The first dynamic of ECL focuses on the fight against a particular type of criminality that the European Union perceives as threatening to its goals - ‘Euro-crime’ - a criminality with particular features (complex in structure and which attempts primarily against public goods) that reflects the nature of contemporary societies. This focus was brought about by rationales such as the fight against organised crime, the protection of EU interests and policies, and recently, the protection of the victim. In turn, the second dynamic of ECL reinforces the State’s capacity to investigate, prosecute and punish beyond its own national borders. It does so, not only in relation to Euro-crime, but also in relation to a broader range of criminality. This thesis will further argue that these two dynamics have contributed to a more severe penality across the European Union by increasing levels of formal criminalisation; by facilitating criminal investigation, prosecution and punishment; and by placing more pressure on more lenient States. Furthermore, it will claim that this punitive emphasis of ECL has, more recently, begun to be nuanced. This has taken place at the national level as some Member States have shown reluctance to fully accepting the enhanced punitive tone of ECL instruments. It has also taken place at EU level as the punitive emphasis of EU legal instruments was modulated and the protection of fundamental rights has taken a more central place in the ‘post Lisbon’ framework. Thus, at this later stage of ECL a dialectic between punitiveness and moderation began to surface.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Mariana Chaves
Library of Congress subject classification: K Law > K Law (General)
Sets: Departments > European Institute
Supervisor: Chalmers, Damian

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