In a Schengen area without internal borders, common European Union rules on criminal justice are essential to combat cross-border crime while ensuring respect for fundamental rights. The principle of mutual recognition is the cornerstone of this policy area, which presupposes mutual trust among the Member States’ law enforcement and judicial authorities. Based on this trust, Member State authorities can cooperate with each other.
To protect the European Union’s financial market, robust legislation regulates anti-money laundering and terrorist financing, as well as, freezing and confiscation of illicit assets. Striking the right balance between criminal investigations and prosecutions and protecting citizens’ rights is essential within the area of criminal justice. EU legislation ensures that fundamental rights are respected by protecting the procedural rights of suspects and accused throughout criminal proceedings. Of particular importance is the right to be presumed innocent and to be present at the trial, while special safeguards are ensured for children who are suspected or accused in criminal proceedings. Established minimum standards also seek to protect the rights of victims of crime to provide them with the necessary support.
Through the following projects, Milieu has assisted the European Commission in assessing the compliance of national laws with the requirements set out in EU law:
Insider trading and market manipulation, also known as market abuse, are EU-wide crimes requiring constant attention and enforcement. The Market Abuse Directive (MAD II-Directive 2014/57/EU) and the Market Abuse Regulation (MAR) have improved and strengthened market integrity and investor protection, which had been previously provided in an older Market Abuse Directive (MAD) from 2003. The 26 Member States implicated in MAD II (DK and UK are excluded), had until July 2016 to comply with the Directive.
Milieu was entrusted to assess the completeness and conformity of the national transposing laws with the Directive’s requirements. This project was part of an ongoing framework contract held with DG JUST.
In an effort to effectively combat (organised) crime, EU law allows for the freezing and confiscation of illegally acquired assets. This is detailed in the 2014 EU Directive (Directive 2014/42/EU), otherwise known as the Confiscation Directive.
Under a single-operator framework contract with DG HOME, Milieu checked that the Confiscation Directive was appropriately transposed in 26 EU Member States (DK and UK are excluded). This completeness and conformity checking ultimately helps the European Commission make an informed decision on future actions, such as possible infringement proceedings.
Each year, around 75 million people across the EU fall victim to crime. As part of the overall objective of maintaining and developing an area of freedom, security and justice in the EU, the setting of minimum common standards for the support and protection of victims of crime has been recognized as a priority. The EU has adopted several acts in this area. The Victims’ Rights Directive is the central piece of this legal corpus, as it sets the main standards for the rights, support and protection of crime victims in criminal proceedings and applies to all victims.
Milieu assisted DG JUST with the required monitoring of this Directive and how it has been applied in each Member State (except for Denmark). This project involved a legal analysis of the way the Directive is transposed into Member States’ legislation but also a review of how the Directive is implemented in practice, looking at non-legislative measures adopted to implement the Directive’s requirements identified through desk research and stakeholders’ interviews, looking at the provision of information on their rights to the victims, the setting-up and financing of victim support services, the training of practitioners and awareness raising measures.