Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Bulgaria will be a co-author of a new legal framework for transfer of legal jurisdiction in the EU

Adelina Marini, October 20, 2009

The Swedish Presidency has invited Bulgaria to be a co-author of a project of a legal framework, allowing transfer of criminal jurisdiction within the EU. So far, such a framework existed in the Council of Europe organisation, which was ratified by only 13 of its numerous members around the continent, Bulgaria including and which proved inefficient. This is the reason why the EU has decided to create its own legal mechanism.

Although Bulgaria has accepted to be a co-author of the framework, still there are many questions that remain with no answers. Among the conditions for requiring a transfer of criminal jurisdiction are: when the crime has been committed entirely or partially in a EU member state, foreign to the perpetrator, when the perpetrator is a citizen of one country but has committed a crime in another and when a large part of the evidence is in a country, different from the one that is a stage of the crime. An example could be the Borilski case in which two Bulgarian citizens have murdered another Bulgarian in Paris.

But the representative of the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice Mr. Florian Florov who participated in the European Affairs Council yesterday, could not explain whether a member state whose citizen has committed a crime in another, has the right to require to proceed with legal activities according to its own legislation. As was the case with the English football fan Michael Shields. He was sentenced to prison for the murder of a Bulgarian bartender in Bulgaria but was sent to serve his sentence in the UK and was later released. Mr. Florian Florov tried to explain that the only purpose of the new legal framework would be to simplify the cooperation among the competent bodies in the EU member states.

He added that there is nothing new, because elements of the framework are included in the national Penal Code of Procedure, in articles 478 and onward that settle the transfer of legal jurisdiction. In spite of this, the idea of the project is other EU member states to join it too. But it is possible that countries like the UK might reject it as they have an opt-out in their accession treaties with regard to justice and home affairs.

Mr. Florov also found it difficult to say whether if this framework is adopted it would lead to a change in the national legislation. The issue will be discussed at the Council of justice and home affairs in Luxembourg on the 23rd of October.