91385 - European Criminal Law

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Moduli: Emanuela Fronza (Modulo 1) Alessandra Santangelo (Modulo 2)
  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures (Modulo 1) Traditional lectures (Modulo 2)
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Second cycle degree programme (LM) in Legal Studies (cod. 9062)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course unit, students: - possess an in-depth knowledge about the supranational regulation concerning the legal instruments designed by the European Union and the Council of Europe on judicial cooperation in criminal matters; - are capable to apply the existing supranational and European legal instruments to cross-border cases of criminal nature and to assess the interaction between those instruments and national legal orders, also with regard to the mechanisms for the protection of fundamental rights and in respect of certain aspects which necessarily contribute to characterizing the national identity of the European States.

Course contents

This course aims to provide students with a general understanding of European criminal law, as developed, in particular, through the case law of the European Court of Justice. The course will also familiarize students with the general principles of criminal law and the tensions between European Union law and domestic criminal law.

  1. Introduction. Historical background and the democracy issue. EU harmonization and constitutional concerns
    • From the third pillar (FSJ) towards Lisbon.
  2. EU Criminal Law after Lisbon: ‘constitutionalisation’ at the EU level and at the national level
    • Criminal Law implementing EU policies;
    • Proportionality and subsidiarity principle.
  3. Duty of Loyalty and harmonization in the criminal sphere

  4. EU competences: art. 83 TFEU and extended competences
    • Historical negationism and hate speeches.
  5. The role of the CJEU and ECtHR: general background


  6. The primacy of EU law and national identities
    • Interpretation and the power to disapplication;
    • From the Radu case to Celmer.
  7. The Taricco saga
    • A dialogue between the Constitutional Court and the Court of Justice?

  8. Immigration and ‘Crimmigration’
    • The El Dridi case.

  9. Mutual recognition and mutual trust: the role of fundamental rights
    • The so called ‘multilevel system of fundamental rights’;
    • The status of the ECHR across Europe: the UK’s Human Rights Act and the Italian solution;
    • Interactions among ECHR and CFREU.

  10. EU legislation and fundamental rights. The legality principle I
    • The Berlusconi judgement;
    • The decision of the ECtHR, GC, Scoppola v Italy.

  11. EU legislation and fundamental rights. The legality principle II
    • ECtHR, GC, Del Rio Prada v Spain;
    • ECtHR, Contrada v Italy.

  12. EU legislation on human rights: rule of law and criminal law. The issue of ne bis in idem
    • The Fransson judgement;
    • ECtHR, GC, Grande Stevens v Italy;
    • ECtHR, GC, A.&B. v Norway.

  13. The prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatments: the interconnections between CJEU and ECtHR I
    • Positive obbligations under Art 3, ECHR;
    • The prevention of torture: ECtHR, Cestaro v Italy e Azzolina et al. v Italy.

  14. The prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatments: the interconnections between CJEU and ECtHR II
    • Life imprisonment and fundamental guarantees;
    • ECtHR, Viola v Italy;
    • Rehabilitation could become a general EU principle?

  15. Life ending before International and European guarantees

- ECtHR, Pretty v United Kingdom;

- ECtHR, Gross v Switzerland.


The compulsory syllabus and the reading list will be published on the Alma DL website.

Texts and materials of the cases discussed during the course will be also uploaded on the AlmaDL website, along with potential additional readings that will be identified during classes.

Teaching methods

The course will be held in lectures and additional seminars and activities to further analyse some topics and encourage students’ involvement. In the lectures, the syllabus will be systematically explained, together with the examination of the case law relevant to each topic.

Attending students will be encouraged to take part in the discussion and, individually or in small groups, carry on research and present their results during the lecture.

The teaching will be carried on using the comparative approach and the analysis of the domestic and European case law. This methodology allows the students to understand the bigger picture, consider the plurality of sources and mechanisms to redress and the importance of the legal, historical and political contexts.

The course requires students to actively participate in the classes, in order to develop critical thinking skills. Professionals and academics with extensive experience in European criminal law will be invited to teach individual seminars or classes.

The main purpose of the course is to provide students with suitable tools for the interpretation and application of the main normative provisions of European criminal law, the ability to conduct effective legal research and to solve cases that involve fundamental issues of European criminal law.

Assessment methods

The final exam consists of an individual take-home paper of at least 6,000 and not exceeding 7,000 words on a topic among those addressed in class or one that is agreed upon with the lecturers. Alternatively[AS1] [applewebdata://BFBD954D-557C-4470-9CD2-FB321FDC1A84#_msocom_1] , students may combine an in-class individual presentation with a short paper on the same topic of the presentation. In any event, the bibliographic research is an essential part of the grading, and falls thus fully within the responsibility of students. Online sources are accepted provided that they be not the main sources and that they be of legal nature (e.g. avoid using Wikipedia).

The lecturer has discretion to adjust the grade to reflect active participation demonstrated during classes.

Students with disabilities or Specific Learning Disorders (DSA) can ask to the Professor adaptations for their specific needs.

Enrolment in the final exam shall be done through the online system ‘Almaesami’ on https://almaesami.unibo.it/almaesami/welcome.htm.

[AS1] [applewebdata://BFBD954D-557C-4470-9CD2-FB321FDC1A84#_msoanchor_1] Si potrebbe anche solo mettere ‘Alternatively’

Teaching tools

To facilitate the comprehension and learning of the syllabus, the course will be presented with the support of PowerPoint slides.

Students with disabilities or learning disabilities (DSA) who need additional support will be able to refer to the professor to discuss their needs and be directed to the relevant personnel and agree on specific assistance.

Office hours

See the website of Emanuela Fronza

See the website of Alessandra Santangelo


Good health and well-being Gender equality Climate Action Peace, justice and strong institutions

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.