The European Criminal Bar Association (ECBA) is a leading group of independent criminal defence lawyers in the Council of Europe

The European Criminal Bar Association (ECBA) welcomes the EU Commission’s new initiative to tackle corruption.
The Commission drafted a new Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on Combating Corruption (Proposal). The ECBA underlines the need to respect the higher standard for procedural safeguards and due process principle and fair  trials also in this very sensitive field of law.

This initiative targets the phenomenon of corruption that hampers the rule of law and the trust in institutions, and undermines the democratic establishments and EU values, including the protection of fundamental rights. The Commission states that the aim of the Proposal is to ensure that all forms of corruption are criminalised in all Member States, that legal persons may also be held responsible for such offences, and that offences incur effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties. In addition, according to the Commission, the Proposal should positively contribute to the protection of some specific fundamental rights, such as the right to fair trial and freedom of expression.

The ECBA shares the view that the fight against corruption and the protection of fundamental rights are complementary, not conflicting objectives. At the same time, implementing and enforcing criminalisation of corruption has to be carried out in full respect of fundamental rights. As set out in Article 52(1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, any limitation on the exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms is subject to conditions, namely the compliance with the principle of proportionality with respect to the legitimate aim of genuinely meeting objectives of general interest or the need to protect the rights and freedoms of others, to be provided for by law and respect the essence of those rights and freedoms.

Read the full Statement here.