EU AFSJ agencies and related bodies as global actors in the fight against crime: accountability for fundamental rights violations
PhD student: Mr E. Omičević
Promotors: Prof C.M. Ryngaert, M. Luchtman
Duration: 27/1/2020 - 26/1/2024
To effectively prevent and combat transnational crime, EU agencies and related bodies operating within the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (AFSJ) increasingly cooperate with non-EU countries. Although the performance of external activities undoubtedly boosts the agencies operational effectiveness, it may also involve the violation of fundamental rights of individuals. Despite binding obligations in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, fundamental rights concerns have been raised repeatedly in relation to the agencies activities, and are particularly pronounced when these Union bodies (co)operate externally. Given the potentially adverse effects on individuals rights, the EU AFSJ agencies and related bodies should be held accountable for their actions. To invoke accountability, it is imperative to assess whether the agencies actions render it responsible under international law and liable under EU law for the alleged violation. The task of determining responsibility, liability and accountability for fundamental rights violations in the AFSJ agencies external tasks can, however, be a cumbersome exercise. First, the agencies are often framed as mere facilitators of Member States actions and, second, the involvement of non-EU partners in an already multi-actor field adds another layer of complexity. This begs the under-researched question of whether there is sufficient scrutiny of the agencies fundamental rights-sensitive external activities. The PhD research aims to close this knowledge gap by examining the extent to which EU AFSJ agencies and related bodies can be held responsible, liable and accountable for fundamental rights violations in the performance of their external activities. The dissertation will focus on the policy area of (human and tobacco) smuggling and will rely on a legal analysis that also draws on concepts from other disciplines, as well as on empirical legal research by means of interviews.