EU police and justice evolution with Lisbon Treaty

[] There are sensitive policy areas over which many EU member states are loath to cede individual sovereignty, notably police and justice. Yet the Treaty of Lisbon aims to make the decision process smoother and more democratic by replacing unanimity voting on common policy with majority voting, and involving the European Parliament.

Cooperative structures already in place, such as Europol, are evolving as well.

Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol said: “Alongside the Lisbon Treaty, we also have some important changes to the Europol legal framework and this comes in at more or less the same time. This gives us new powers and capabilities, for the first time the ability to investigate for example serial killers that are moving across Europe. We will still be focused, however, on our high priorities of countering terrorist groups — drug trafficking groups as well.”

Travel freedom within Europe and services of law and order working independently of each other can be exploited by criminal enterprises. But certain penal codes are being harmonised, and Eurojust, the legal arm of Europol, has been handed a greater reach.

José Luís Lopes da Mota, President of Eurojust said: “With the Treaty of Lisbon, Eurojust will have the power to decide, to initiate investigations and prosecutions. This is a significant change. The second one, Eurojust will coordinate these actions of different national authorities.”

The Lisbon Treaty also opens the way to the creation of a European Prosecutor’s Office to pursue those suspected of damaging the EU’s financial intersts. By a unanimous vote, the competence of the common prosecutor’s court can be extended to fight other serious trans-national crime.