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Characteristics of European Union Justice Systems

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2009
39 pages
This report provides information on the government and legal system of each of the 27 countries that compose The European Union (EU), which is an economic and political union that was established by the Treaty of Maastricht on November 1, 1993.
In order to join the European Union, a country must have a stable system of democratic government and institutions that ensure the rule of law and respect for human rights. It must also have a functioning market economy and an administration capable of implementing EU law and policies. This report first presents a table that contains the following information on each EU member state: legal system (civil law, English common law, and "other"); age of responsibility; who investigates crime (judge, police, or prosecutor); whether the country ensures a defendant's right to an attorney; whether the country has lay judges; whether the judges are "active" or "passive;" and type of victim compensation (state, offender, or none). Following the table, a narrative format is used to provide more detail for each country on each characteristic in the table. Appended maps show the locations of the countries with each of the table's characteristics.

Date Published: September 1, 2009