Friday 23 September 2011

Deal on the European Protection Order Directive

The Council and Parliament have reached a deal on the European Protection Order Directive, originally proposed by Member States, ensuring that it will sail through the first and second legislative readings. The EPOD is aimed at protecting people subject to protection orders under their national criminal law, while allowing them to exercise their free movement rights (draft legislation PDF here). The Directive would apply to protection orders made by national authorities under criminal law (there's a separate measure dealing with civil law), which impose restrictions on persons that pose a risk to another such as:

"(a) a prohibition from entering certain localities, places or defined areas where the protected person resides or that he visits;

(b) a prohibition or regulation of contact, in any form, with the protected person, including by phone, electronic or ordinary mail, fax or any other means; or

(c) a prohibition or regulation on approaching the protected person closer than a prescribed
distance." [Article 5]

Protection orders would be issued normally by Member States under their national law, but if the person they are meant to protect resides in another Member State or wants to move to another Member State, they can request a EPO to extend the protection in the original national protection order so they are covered in their host Member State. So the proposed EPOD works on a modified mutual recognition model - the national measures made in one Member State are recognised and enforced in another Member State, though in this case a request for a European version would need to be made, and then the executing Member State would transpose it via a national measure. The Directive would only apply to victims/potential victims of crime, and not witnesses, so it isn't part of some European witness protection scheme.

From a legal perspective, this modified route to mutual recognition is quite interesting, and shows some movement on the use of mutual recognition measures by allowing for the difference in Member State's legal systems (a mix of criminal, civil and administrative measures). I haven't taken a close look at the jurisdiction/competence issues around the mini-Member State directives that will be EPOs, however. Hopefully the Parliament hasn't missed anything it might later regret...

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