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Key EU terms: C

19 February 2010
by Ina Dimireva -- last modified 24 February 2010

A list of key EU legal terminology: C



Rulings of the Court of Justice of the European Communities. These have major legal weight, comparable to treaty texts and secondary EU legislation (directives, regulations, etc.)


Customs Cooperation Working Group - Collective body comprising EU Member States' law enforcement agencies, set up to fight serious cross-border crime.


Established in 1989 by a decision of the European Council, CELAD (the Coordinators' Group on Drugs) aims to coordinate EU measures to combat drugs with those of the Member States. It has been replaced in 1997 by the Horizontal Drugs Group (HDG) of the Council.


The European Police College, an academy for the training of senior and middle-ranking EU police officials; set up initially as a network of existing training institutes, CEPOL began to offer courses on European policing in 2001.

Charter of Fundamental Rights

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union consolidates rights contained in Community Treaties, EC Court of Justice case-law, international conventions, constitutional traditions common to the Member States and a range of European Parliament declarations.


Customs information system: a secure electronic database between Member States' customs services designed to assist in the prevention, investigation and prosecution of serious breaches of national laws, through improving information exchange.

Citizenship of the EU

The 1991 Maastricht Treaty established the concept of European citizenship, dependent on national citizenship of an EU Member State. EU citizenship confers a range of rights.

Civil matters

All actions and proceedings dealt with by the judiciary which fall outside the criminal law. The EU is building coordination mechanisms to facilitate the free movement of persons, with regard to both business and family activities.


Commission on Narcotics Drugs. Established in 1946 by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, it is the central policy-making body in the UN for dealing with all drug-related matters.

Co-decision procedure

The co-decision procedure was introduced to the EC Treaty by the Treaty of Maastricht, and strengthened Parliament's legislative powers with regard to the free movement of workers and right of establishment. The Treaty of Amsterdam made the procedure quicker and more effective.


Commercial activities relate to trade or business. Judicial cooperation at EU level aims to facilitate the commercial activities of EU citizens across borders.

Common approach

A unifying move in the EU; a key concept in the EU's campaign against organised cross-border crime.

Common asylum procedure

The European Commission identified the establishment of a common asylum procedure for dealing with asylum applications as a priority in the creation of a common European asylum system.

Common European asylum system

Rules and principles at European Union level leading to a common asylum procedure and a uniform status, valid throughout the Union, for those granted asylum. The major aims and principles were agreed to in October 1999 at the European Council in Tampere (Finland) by the Heads of State or Government. A first phase of the common European asylum system should be devised and implemented by May 2004. The second phase in the establishment of the common European asylum system started in 2005 and should be completed by 2010.

Common strategy

A new instrument introduced under the common foreign and security policy by the Treaty of Amsterdam (Article 13 of the EU Treaty). The European Council defines the principles and general guidelines for the CFSP and decides on common strategies to be implemented in fields where Member States have interests in common.

Compensatory measures

The mechanisms that must be in place before an internal EU border is removed; they relate to security of new external borders, visa policy, police cooperation, and participation in the Schengen information system.


EU citizenship confers the right of complaint to the EU Ombudsman on matters to do with flawed administration by certain EU institutions.

Complementary protection

Protection offered by States to asylum-seekers in particular circumstances, that goes further than the protection set out by the 1951 Geneva Convention.

Conditions of residence

The regulations governing the residence of a person who lives in the EU but is not a national in an EU country. The EU has outlined rules with regard to employment, study, and vocational training.


A draft EU framework decision that would allow the confiscation, or seizure of the assets gained from illegal activity (otherwise known as laundered money) is under discussion. Its effect would be to bring all Member States laws to a similar standard.

Consular protection

EU citizenship confers the right to the consular protection of any EU Member State while the citizen is outside the EU, provided that the citizen's own country is not represented in the State in which he or she finds him or herself.


Goods smuggled into or out of a country: the EU has created mechanisms to allow cooperation and information exchange between national customs authorities to prevent smuggling.


Though controls previously exercised at internal EU borders have been removed inside the Schengen area, Member States retain the power to impose temporary checks through a safeguard clause under the Schengen agreement.


A legal instrument under Title VI of the Treaty on European Union. Since the Amsterdam Treaty, conventions may only be used for police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. A convention requires a unanimous decision of the EU Council after consulting the Parliament and enters into force after ratification by at least half the Member States.


Cooperation between the judicial systems of EU Member States, as well as between their law-enforcement agencies, is a central policy of justice and home affairs; it includes recognition of other Member States' judgments and bringing together procedural law.

Copenhagen criteria

The basic criteria to be fulfilled by countries applying to join the EU, as established by the European Copenhagen Council in 1993: stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for minorities; a functioning market economy; and adherence to the acquis communautaire (EU legislation).


Coreper, the French acronym by which the Permanent Representatives Committee is known, consists of the Member States' Permanent Representatives and is responsible for assisting the Council of the European Union in dealing with proposals put forward by the Commission.


Abuse of institutional power for personal interests.

Council of Europe

An intergovernmental political organisation of 43 European democracies, set up in 1949 and based in Strasbourg, France (the Council is not a European Union institution); its main aim is to strengthen political, social, legal and cultural cooperation and to promote human values throughout Europe.

Council of Ministers (Council of the European Union)

The EU's main decision-making institution, consisting of the ministers of the 27 Member States responsible for each policy area, one of which is justice and home affairs.


To make fraudulent imitations or copies, usually of money: two key tools for preventing counterfeiting are the Convention on the Protection of the European Communities Financial Interests and the establishment of the European Anti-Fraud Office.

Counterfeiting of the euro

The introduction of a new currency provides opportunity for fraud and counterfeiting. Preventing this is a priority within the EU's fight against financial crime.

Countries of origin

The country that an immigrant leaves behind: the EU is working with countries of origin to help tackle causes of immigration, such as unemployment and poverty.

Court of Justice of the European Community

Its functions are to check whether instruments of the European institutions and of governments are compatible with the Treaties, and, at the request of a national court, to pronounce on the interpretation or the validity of provisions contained in Community law.


To effectively combat crime in the EU, Member States recognise four main principles: bringing Member States' laws closer together; coordinating proceedings; recognising other Member States' decisions; and upholding the rights of the individual.

Crime Prevention Forum

The Commission has a role in coordinating the police of EU Member States through the Crime Prevention Forum, launched in 2001 to promote best practice across the EU.

Crime Prevention Network

The Crime Prevention Network was set up in 2001 to bring together law enforcement professionals throughout the EU and to supplement and facilitate national crime prevention initiatives.

Criminal gangs or networks

Groups of criminals, often acting across national borders to smuggle and sell illegal drugs.

Criminal offences

One of the chief aims of cooperation in criminal matters is to improve access to justice for victims of criminal offences.

Criminal organisations

Illegal networks of criminals, often acting across national borders, thus necessitating EU cooperation through national judiciaries, police and customs authorities.

Cross-border assistance

The Commission is currently preparing minimum standards that citizens who are involved in cross-border legal cases can expect with regard to obtaining legal aid. Direct financial assistance would be included.

Cross-border claims

The EU is proposing measures to ensure that judgments in cross-border disputes involving claims (such as small claims, maintenance claims, right of access) are enforced in EU Member States other than those in which they were made.

Cross-border conflicts

Legal disputes that involve parties in different countries can be complicated by differing legal systems. The EU is adopting mechanisms to bring the laws of Member States closer to ensure that barriers to justice do not exist in the EU.

Cross-border cooperation

The EU has introduced mechanisms to support cooperation between the Member States' police, notably Europol, the European Police College, and a European Rapid Reaction Force.

Cross-border crime

Crime that operates across national borders. The EU builds mechanisms through which EU Member States can cooperate to prevent cross-border crime.

Cross-border disputes

Parties who find themselves involved in disputes across different States may wish to cooperate to find a solution. This can be done through alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

Cross-border fraud

Money laundering and corruption taking place among more than one country: the EU has defined a common definition of fraud and has established a European Anti-Fraud Office.

Cross-border surveillance

Given that police controls at internal borders have been removed, the Schengen agreement introduced provisions for improving police cooperation in the area of cross-border surveillance.

Customs authorities

An arm of a State's law enforcement body, responsible for monitoring people and goods entering a country. Given the removal of internal borders in the EU, customs authorities are particularly focused on crime prevention.

Customs Cooperation Working Group - CCWG

Collective body comprising EU Member States' law enforcement agencies, set up to fight serious cross-border crime.

Customs information system

A secure electronic database between Member States' customs services designed to assist in preventing, investigating and prosecuting serious breaches of national laws by increasing, through exchange of information, the effectiveness of customs administrations.


Crime committed through the Internet involving, for example, illegal pornographic material or hacking.


Denotes the platform for information and communication offered by the Internet.

Source: European Commission - Justice and Home Affairs

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