The journey of EU criminal law on the ship of fools: What are the implications for supranational governance of EU criminal justice agencies?

Christopher Harding, Jacob Öberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

This article addresses supranational governance of EU criminal justice agencies from the perspective of the various agencies of policy and rulemaking who have contributed to the impressive developments in the field of EU criminal law. Taking as a working hypothesis the happenstance and haphazard character of this field of policy and law, it suggests that there is an absence of design. In the discussion the article proposes the Platonic analogy of the ‘ship of fools’ (Plato, Republic, Book VI) as an explanatory tool. The ship's captain is the guiding spirit of criminal law, but the crew of the ship, who have the power to take control, have diverse interests and ideas about how the ship should be taken to sea and navigated. The article addresses thematically and chronologically the development of EU criminal policy by means of this framework. Subsequently it discusses the extent to which the ‘ship of fools’ analogy is relevant to the development of EU criminal justice agencies, and to the emergence of a European Public Prosecutor. Underlying all this discussion is the uneasy sense that the true pilot of EU criminal law and policy has been displaced, in particular by ‘instrumental’ pilots of securitisation and effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-211
Number of pages20
JournalMaastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law
Volume28
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Apr 2021

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