From the Ground up: The Use of Minimum Rules in EU Procedural Criminal Law and the Question of Member States’ Discretion

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Table of Contents: I. A brief journey to the world of minimum rules. – I.1. The origins of minimum rules. – I.2. The current legal framework. – II. Orchestrating the harmonisation of procedural criminal norms in the EU. – III. Minimum rules and the question of national discretion. – IV. Raising barriers to national discretion. – V. Conclusion.

Abstract: The concept of minimum rules is inextricably linked to the approximation of criminal norms in the European Union. In the field of procedural criminal law, the adoption of minimum rules supports the need to facilitate mutual recognition and police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. This Article seeks to introduce the reader to the world of minimum rules. In order to understand what it means to have minimum rules in a criminal law context, it is necessary to discuss about the origins, the development, the use and the role of minimum rules within this particular context. Following a complete depiction of the way in which minimum rules function in the field of procedural criminal law, the question arises: can Member States go beyond minimum rules? This Article attempts a comprehensive answer to the question of national discretion, arguing for the existence of different limits that can confine the discretion of the national legislator to go beyond minimum rules, and advocating the need for an ad hoc assessment of Member States’ discretion.

Keywords: EU criminal law – minimum rules – minimum harmonisation – Art. 82 TFEU – police and judicial cooperation – national discretion.

European Papers, Vol. 5, 2020, No 3, pp. 1289-1303
2499-8249 - doi: 10.15166/2499-8249/426

* PhD Candidate, Leiden Law School,


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