Brexit and the Future of European Criminal Law – A Spanish Perspective


The UK public took a momentous decision when they voted to leave the EU in a referendum on 23 June 2016. As is well known, the UK has, since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009, occupied a special position in relation to the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (“AFSJ”, Title V TFEU). The Treaty introduced fundamental changes to the field of EU Criminal Law, from which the UK had been sheltered through the opt in/opt out clauses as well as the ‘emergency brakes’ solution. This singular arrangement for the UK post-Lisbon might, to some extent, have foreshadowed the present situation of Brexit, the consequences of which for EU Criminal Law are inquired in this paper from a Spanish perspective. It presents an analysis of what the alternatives to the current relationship between Spain and UK could be in the future outside the EU framework, while seeking to benefit from the improvements previously established through European institutions and instruments. In this context, three different areas are addressed: the interaction between Spain and UK in the context of European agencies and institutions; the procedural framework in the area of judicial cooperation through the application of the principle of mutual recognition; and, the framework in relation to procedural rights through the application of the principle of the approximation of laws. Finally, I conclude with some brief remarks on this situation that is still unfolding.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Mar Jimeno-Bulnes.

Additional information

Full Professor at the University of Burgos (Spain) and non-practicing member of the Burgos Bar Association. Correspondence e-mail: The financial support of the Spanish Ministry of Economy and the European Commission is gratefully acknowledged (Research Projects ‘A step forward in the consolidation of the European judicial area and its practical application in Spain: from the perspective of civil and criminal procedures’, DER2015-71418-P and Best practices for EUROpean COORDination on investigative measures and evidence gathering, EUROCOORD, JUST-2015-JCOO-AG, 723198). Also, my special thanks to Professors Kai Ambos and Stefanie Bock for critical comments on this paper; thanks also to my aunt Crys Bulnes for sending me press news on Brexit from UK. Last and not least, thanks to Antony Ross Price for revising the English language version of this article.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Jimeno-Bulnes, M. Brexit and the Future of European Criminal Law – A Spanish Perspective. Crim Law Forum 28, 325–347 (2017).

Download citation