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Do you know if there is a single Criminal System in the European Union? Are crimes considered equal? Do the accused receive the same punishment in all countries?

In the European Union, so far, it has not been possible to speak of a single and common Criminal Code to all its member states, although for that purpose it would be enough to establish some order, categorizing all types of crime, the sentences imposed and proceeding to recognize all the court rulings there are.

The creation of a unique Criminal Law in the European Union is necessary based on the fact that in the Treaty of Rome of 1957 there are no provisions covering the enforcement of unique laws to all countries members of this community, but rather territorial laws who respected the absolute sovereignty of each country.

At present, there is a variety of sentences depending on the country of the European Union, for example, in Spain the death penalty and life imprisonment are not contemplated. And although it is true that the death penalty has been disappearing in Europe, most countries still maintain "life sentence" as one of the measures that can be imposed on the most serious crimes.

In many countries, behaviors that are prohibited by National Criminal Law come into contradiction with the provisions of the European Union or simply limit community freedoms.

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Likewise, the penalties imposed on property crimes and terrorism are very different in each of the countries that constitute the European Union. For example, France is very severe with property crimes while in Spain the penalties are much lower.

There are countries, such as Andorra, where the accused of a crime can even choose where to serve the sentence (in Spain or France).

Equally diverse are the legal processes depending on the country in question: among them, the house searches, the provisional detention, and the legal assistance, etc.

Other similar problems are associated with legal mechanisms that do not have uniqueness (restrictions, refusals, enforcement of sentences, and absence of terms for procedures), etc. All result in a marked slowness of cooperation mechanisms.

When on June 14th, 1985, Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium and France signed the Schengen agreement, which came into force in March 1986, it was established to gradually abolish controls at the common borders and thereby allow any person to cross borders freely without taking into account the nationality of the individual crossing it. Evidently, this increased the risk to the security of each of these countries.

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In this way, the states belonging to the European Union saw the need to improve and unify the legal cooperation mechanisms between them.

Will it then be possible to create a single European Criminal Law at some point? Have some steps been taken in favor of its creation? What have been the achievements in this regard?

Creating a Criminal Law that is common to all member countries of the European Economic Community, cannot exclusively depend on demanding that all the principles of Criminal Law of each of the countries be complied with. The idea of imposing common definitions, crimes and sanctions may not be the best solution.

It is fair to point out that in the criminal legal field, they have tried to align the policies of cooperation and mutual recognition, using very varied legal instruments. At present, a European Legal Area is being created, which will have its own institutions with the objective of cooperating and coordinating with the authorities of each country. Therefore it is logical to think that at some point the results will be achieved that will allow the European Union to have a single criminal law: humanistic and proportional.

In order to cooperate in the objective of achieving this unique European Criminal Law, the European Legal Training Network developed a training guide for those in charge of training Criminal Justice students on the current legislation on cooperation issues, the way in which the instruments of the European Union are applied, guidelines with regard to the adoption of good practices, and other interesting topics that include: extradition, judicial assistance, enforcement of sentences, etc. This guide is updated periodically.

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Another important aspect is that a teaching material package has been prepared that includes videos on legal collaboration practices. The videos included in this material have been created for all types of public, in a way that allows those who acquire it to learn autonomously, but at the same time they constitute a weapon of great potential for students of criminal law, judges, prosecutors and other professionals.

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