Limits to EU Powers : a case study on individual criminal sanctions for the enforcement of EU law

Sammanfattning: The question posed by this thesis is how limits can be constructed to the exercise of EU powers. While there are limits to the exercise of EU competences in the Treaties and in the Court of Justice’s jurisprudence, it is argued that those limits suffer from conceptual and practical problems. In particular, the Court does not have appropriate criteria to examine whether the limits of the Treaties have been exceeded by the Union legislator. The thesis uses one of the new, and controversial, competences that the Union has obtained, the power to impose criminal sanctions, as a case study to propose a mechanism by which legislative powers can be kept in check. This is an illuminating and relevant case study. Firstly, it nicely illustrates the limits to the exercise of EU competences. Secondly, legislative practice and political statements suggest that this competence will be used regularly in the future. The thesis makes two proposals. First, by interpreting the scope of the EU’s powers under the Treaties to impose criminal sanctions the thesis shows the limits to the exercise of EU competences. It demonstrates the scope of EU’s competences by analyzing current and proposed criminal law measures. Secondly, noting that a construction of the limits to EU competences also needs to tackle the institutional challenges of judicial review, it develops an argument for a more intense and evidence-based judicial review. It constructs a procedural standard of legality which demands that the EU legislator shows that it has adequately reasoned its decisions and has taken into account relevant evidence. By testing the legality of discretely chosen criminal law measures on the basis of this standard, it is demonstrated how the Court can enforce the limits of the Treaties.