Volume 54 (2017) / Issue 3
Criminal law has an inherent expressive and communitarian dimension, expressing the common values and norms of the political community. Drawing on the theory of Antony Duff, this article explores the extent to which the EU’s actions in the area of substantive criminal law can be said to express common European values by identifying actions deemed wrongful vis-à-vis the Union as a whole. The Union is limited in its capacity to express conceptions of wrong-doing through its substantive criminal law by the limited nature of its competences, its functional character and its multilevel structure. However, it does enjoy an expressive quality in two broad areas; first, the identification of European public goods, harm to which constitutes a wrong to the Union and second, common European public values. Also, substantive EU criminal law can support transnational criminal law processes, interacting with national criminal law and giving rise to the identification of certain shared wrongs amongst Member States. Thus, while certainly limited, EU criminal law does fulfil a role in the identification of wrongful behaviour and the expression of common values.
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