The EESC supports the communication's objective of providing for the exercise of the EU's competence in the field of criminal policy, conferred on it by Article 83(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), in new harmonised sectors.
Given the punitive and controversial nature of criminal sanctions, the criminalisation of States by the Union for a particular form of conduct should be a last resort ("ultima ratio").
The EESC believes that the Commission's project first requires a clear identification of what the concept of a general interest defined at European level could cover. This concept does not currently exist in law, but is necessary in order to justify imposing criminal sanctions defined at EU level on European citizens.
The decision to adopt new criminal measures at European level must first be justified by means of an impact analysis which must be able to demonstrate the need for European criminal legislation in light of the principles of subsidiarity and necessity and of the proportionality (the ultima ratio requirement) of the criminal sanction.
Furthermore, the EESC believes that consideration should be given to the criminal liability of legal persons.
Finally, the EESC believes that the discussion on the principle of extending European criminal law should go hand in hand with a discussion on respect for rights of defence.