A framework decision was a kind of legislative act of the European Union used exclusively within the EU's competences in police and judicial co-operation in criminal justice matters. Framework decisions were similar to directives in that they required member states to achieve particular results without dictating the means of achieving that result. However unlike directives, framework decisions were not capable of direct effect, they were only subject to the optional jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and enforcement proceedings could not be taken by the European Commission for any failure to transpose a framework decision into domestic law.
Framework decisions were created in the Amsterdam Treaty and replaced joint actions which were legal instruments available under the Maastricht Treaty. The Lisbon Treaty abolished framework decisions and the EU can now enact directives and regulations in the area of criminal justice by means of the ordinary legislative procedure.
The legal basis for framework decisions was Article 34 of the Treaty on European Union. As amended by the Treaty of Nice and before being repealed by the Lisbon Treaty this Article read:
2. The Council shall take measures and promote cooperation, using the appropriate form and procedures as set out in this title, contributing to the pursuit of the objectives of the Union. To that end, acting unanimously on the initiative of any Member State or of the Commission, the Council may:
- (b) adopt framework decisions for the purpose of approximation of the laws and regulations of the Member States. Framework decisions shall be binding upon the Member States as to the result to be achieved but shall leave to the national authorities the choice of form and methods. They shall not entail direct effect; ...
The continued basis for framework decisions is set out in transitional provisions of the Lisbon Treaty. Article 9 of the Protocol on Transitional Provisions provides that:
The legal effects of the acts of the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union adopted on the basis of the Treaty on European Union prior to the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon shall be preserved until those acts are repealed, annulled or amended in implementation of the Treaties. The same shall apply to agreements concluded between Member States on the basis of the Treaty on European Union.
Jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice
The European Court of Justice only had jurisdiction to make preliminary rulings on the interpretation of framework decisions when a member state made a declaration under the (pre-Lisbon) Treaty on European Union indicating the circumstances in which the Court could exercise such a jurisdiction. All member states except Ireland and the United Kingdom made such a declaration.
The European Commission could not bring enforcement proceedings against member states for failing to implement a framework decision or for implementing it incorrectly. Although the Court did have jurisdiction to resolve disagreements between member states concerning the interpretation of framework decisions and to hear annulment proceedings regarding their validity.
As of the coming into force of the Lisbon Treaty the status quo ante regarding preliminary rulings and enforcement proceedings were preserved for a transitional period of five years although this transitional period ceases to apply to a framework decision which has been amended after the Lisbon's coming into force. After the transitional period has expired on 30 November 2014, preliminary rulings and enforcement proceedings have become possible.
United Kingdom opt-out
However the United Kingdom negotiated an opt-out from the continued legal force of framework decisions which it may put into effect no later that six months before the expiry of the transitional period by so notifying the Council of the European Union. In October 2012 the UK government announced that it intended to exercise this opt-out and then selectively opt back into certain measures. Unless this decision is reversed, all framework decisions which are not amended during the transitional period but which are still in force will cease to apply to the UK from 1 December 2014.
List of framework decisions
The following is an exhaustive list the 34 framework decision which were adopted between 1999 and 2009:
- Council Framework Decision 2000/383/JHA of 29 May 2000 on increasing protection by criminal penalties and other sanctions against counterfeiting in connection with the introduction of the euro (OJ L 140, 14.6.2000, p. 1–3).
- Council Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA of 15 March 2001 on the standing of victims in criminal proceedings (OJ L 82, 22.3.2001, p. 1–4).
- Council Framework Decision 2001/413/JHA of 28 May 2001 combating fraud and counterfeiting of non-cash means of payment (OJ L 149, 2.6.2001, p. 1–4).
- Council Framework Decision 2001/500/JHA of 26 June 2001 on money laundering, the identification, tracing, freezing, seizing and confiscation of instrumentalities and the proceeds of crime (OJ L 182, 5.7.2001, p. 1–2).
- Council Framework Decision 2001/888/JHA of 6 December 2001 amending Framework Decision 2000/383/JHA on increasing protection by criminal penalties and other sanctions against counterfeiting in connection with the introduction of the euro (OJ L 329, 14.12.2001, p. 3–3).
- Council Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA of 13 June 2002 on the European arrest warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States – Statements made by certain Member States on the adoption of the Framework Decision (OJ L 190, 18.7.2002, p. 1–20).
- Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA of 13 June 2002 on combating terrorism (OJ L 164, 22.6.2002, p. 3–7).
- Council Framework Decision 2002/465/JHA of 13 June 2002 on joint investigation teams (OJ L 162, 20.6.2002, p. 1–3).
- Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA of 19 July 2002 on combating trafficking in human beings (OJ L 203, 1.8.2002, p. 1–4).
- Council Framework Decision 2002/946/JHA of 28 November 2002 on the strengthening of the penal framework to prevent the facilitation of unauthorised entry, transit and residence (OJ L 328, 5.12.2002, p. 1–3).
- Council Framework Decision 2003/80/JHA of 7 January 2003 on the protection of the environment through criminal law (OJ L 29, 5.2.2003, p. 55–58).
- Council Framework Decision 2003/568/JHA of 22 July 2003 on combating corruption in the private sector (OJ L 192, 31.7.2003, p. 54–56).
- Council Framework Decision 2003/577/JHA of 22 July 2003 on the execution in the European Union of orders freezing property or evidence (OJ L 196, 2.8.2003, p. 45–55).
- Council Framework Decision 2004/68/JHA of 22 December 2003 on combating the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography (OJ L 13, 20.1.2004, p. 44–48).
- Council Framework Decision 2004/757/JHA of 25 October 2004 laying down minimum provisions on the constituent elements of criminal acts and penalties in the field of illicit drug trafficking (OJ L 335, 11.11.2004, p. 8–11).
- Council Framework Decision 2005/212/JHA of 24 February 2005 on Confiscation of Crime-Related Proceeds, Instrumentalities and Property (OJ L 68, 15.3.2005, p. 49–51).
- Council Framework Decision 2005/214/JHA of 24 February 2005 on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to financial penalties (OJ L 76, 22.3.2005, p. 16–30).
- Council Framework Decision 2005/222/JHA of 24 February 2005 on attacks against information systems (OJ L 69, 16.3.2005, p. 67–71).
- Council Framework Decision 2005/667/JHA of 12 July 2005 to strengthen the criminal-law framework for the enforcement of the law against ship-source pollution (OJ L 255, 30.9.2005, p. 164–167).
- Council Framework Decision 2006/783/JHA of 6 October 2006 on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to confiscation orders (OJ L 328, 24.11.2006, p. 59–78).
- Council Framework Decision 2006/960/JHA of 18 December 2006 on simplifying the exchange of information and intelligence between law enforcement authorities of the Member States of the European Union (OJ L 386, 29.12.2006, p. 89–100).
- Council Framework Decision 2008/675/JHA of 24 July 2008 on taking account of convictions in the Member States of the European Union in the course of new criminal proceedings (OJ L 220, 15.8.2008, p. 32–34).
- Council Framework Decision 2008/841/JHA of 24 October 2008 on the fight against organised crime (OJ L 300, 11.11.2008, p. 42–45).
- Council Framework Decision 2008/909/JHA of 27 November 2008 on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to judgments in criminal matters imposing custodial sentences or measures involving deprivation of liberty for the purpose of their enforcement in the European Union (OJ L 327, 5.12.2008, p. 27–46).
- Council Framework Decision 2008/947/JHA of 27 November 2008 on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to judgments and probation decisions with a view to the supervision of probation measures and alternative sanctions (OJ L 337, 16.12.2008, p. 102–122).
- Council Framework Decision 2008/977/JHA of 27 November 2008 on the protection of personal data processed in the framework of police and judicial co-operation in criminal matters (OJ L 350, 30.12.2008, p. 60–71).
- Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA of 28 November 2008 on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law (OJ L 328, 6.12.2008, p. 55–58).
- Council Framework Decision 2008/919/JHA of 28 November 2008 amending Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA on combating terrorism (OJ L 330, 9.12.2008, p. 21–23).
- Council Framework Decision 2008/978/JHA of 18 December 2008 on the European evidence warrant for the purpose of obtaining objects, documents and data for use in proceedings in criminal matters (OJ L 350, 30.12.2008, p. 72–92).
- Council Framework Decision 2009/299/JHA of 26 February 2009 amending Framework Decisions 2002/584/JHA, 2005/214/JHA, 2006/783/JHA, 2008/909/JHA and 2008/947/JHA, thereby enhancing the procedural rights of persons and fostering the application of the principle of mutual recognition to decisions rendered in the absence of the person concerned at the trial (OJ L 81, 27.3.2009, p. 24–36).
- Council Framework Decision 2009/315/JHA of 26 February 2009 on the organisation and content of the exchange of information extracted from the criminal record between Member States (OJ L 93, 7.4.2009, p. 23–32).
- Council Framework Decision 2009/829/JHA of 23 October 2009 on the application, between Member States of the European Union, of the principle of mutual recognition to decisions on supervision measures as an alternative to provisional detention (OJ L 294, 11.11.2009, p. 20–40).
- Council Framework Decision 2009/905/JHA of 30 November 2009 on Accreditation of forensic service providers carrying out laboratory activities (OJ L 322, 9.12.2009, p. 14–16).
- Council Framework Decision 2009/948/JHA of 30 November 2009 on prevention and settlement of conflicts of exercise of jurisdiction in criminal proceedings (OJ L 328, 15.12.2009, p. 42–47).
- Lebeck, Carl, Sliding Towards Supranationalism? The Constitutional Status of EU Framework Decisions after Pupino, 8(5) German Law Journal 501 at 507.
- Article 35 of the Treaty on European Union (Treaty of Nice Version) (OJ C 325, 24 December 2002, p 1).
- Article 10 of the Protocol on Transitional Provisions attached to the Treaty of Lisbon.
- Peers, Steve. "The UK's planned 'block opt-out' from EU justice and policing measures in 2014" (PDF). Statewatch. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
- Article 10(4) of the Protocol on Transitional Provisions attached to the Treaty of Lisbon.
- Peers, Steve (2011). EU Justice and Home Affairs Law (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 27. ISBN 978-0-19-960490-6.