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Benedetta Arrighini

GEM-DIAMOND doctoral fellow

ESR 11 – Legal contestation on the rule of law and its impact on EU cooperation in criminal matters with third parties: EU-MERCOSUR

Always interested in Criminal Law and European Law, with a special focus on External relation, I found my perfect combination with my research project: Judicial Cooperation in Criminal matters within Third States-the case of EU and MERCOSUR.
I will discuss about the impact on the rule of law in the field of the EU’s international agreements, as the one with MERCOSUR.
Legal contestation on this topic is fundamental to aware the EU the importance of the rule of law, and to improve the concept of dissensus in the EU democracy.

Host Institutions

Breaking or branching with Brazil?
The legal contestation of the rule of law and EU’s cooperation in criminal matters with Mercosur. A case-study


  • Anne Weyembergh
  • Paula Almeida
  • Rossella Sabia

Research abstract

The research is a legal contestation, meaning a discussion based on legal roots on the rule of law impact in a very specific issue: the judicial cooperation in criminal matters within EU and MERCOSUR countries. In few words: will the EU take into consideration the rule of law once concluded the MERCOSUR agreement dealing with judicial cooperation?
The study will involve several aspects of the EU framework. First, the role of the EU as a global actor from a legal perspective: the EU external action is governed by the Treaties of the EU and the inquiry will focus on art. 3(5) TEU and article 21.2 (a) affirming the importance of the EU in the international scene, but at the same time the necessity to preserve, and on a certain sense, export its values. As a consequence, the conclusion of international agreements requires the respect of the EU principles, all included in the concept of rule of law. Among the subjects related to an international agreement, there is the judicial cooperation. The EU has a developing Area of Freedom Security and Justice, and its instruments have been expanded outside the EU borders through International Agreements, but also the international community. However, as already said, there is the need to evaluate the respect of the EU values.
The study will focus not on judicial cooperation as a whole, but on the cooperation in criminal matters, in which the risk to breach fundamental rights is high due to the relations within the State as warrant of order and respect of human rights of the victims, but also of the defendants.
The interaction within the EU external action and the judicial cooperation in criminal matters will be analysed using a practical example, meaning the interaction within the EU and Mercosur countries. Indeed, they have been concluding an International Agreement for years, with the peculiarity that the EU and Mercosur are two regional organization, and this contributes to add much more complexity in finding common points of view.
The cooperation in criminal matters is not a defined subject yet and from this the reason and the purpose of the research. It will map the current situation regarding cooperation in criminal matters looking at the international, European and national level, focusing on one country from the South Market, Brazil; Moreover, the study will a practical instrument, emblematic for the cooperation in criminal matters, meaning the extradition, this will be an opportunity to deep understand the interface, but also the possible difficulties in the respect of the rights of the defendants.
The last part will aim at evaluating the role of the EU as a global actor in criminal cooperation in criminal matters, a delicate issue that has been left behind without looking at the positive outcomes it can provide.

Research Question(s)

How is rule of law reflected in the EU collaboration in criminal matters with Mercosur? The Brazil case study.

Research Hypothesis(es)

The EU should implement the cooperation in criminal matters outside its borders, without forgetting an impact assessment concerning the rule of law.

Personal Research Bibliography (So Far)

Cooperation In Criminal Matters
Alcantara, Guilherme Goncalves; Florestan Prado, ‘The Constitution Means What the Supreme Court Says It Means: But Only When I Want: About How (Not to) Work with Precedents’ Revista Brasileira de Direito Processual Penal 3, no. 1 (January/April 2017): 343-366
Brodowski, Dominik. «Judicial Cooperation between the EU and Non-Member States». New Journal of European Criminal Law 2, fasc. 1 (marzo 2011): 21–44.
Patrick Cacicedo, "The Judicial Control of Criminal Execution in Brazil: Ambiguities and Contradictions of a Perverse Relationship," Revista Brasileira de Direito Processual Penal 4, no. 1 (January/April 2018): 413-434
Caeiro, Pedro. «Editorial do dossiê “Cooperação Judiciária Internacional em Matéria Penal” - Problemas actuais em perspectiva global». Revista Brasileira de Direito Processual Penal 5, fasc. 2 (30 giugno 2019): 553–63.
Costa, Miguel João. «Policies of International Friendship in Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters: The Non-Extradition of Brazilian and Portuguese Nationals to Third States – A Comparison with EU Law». Revista Brasileira de Direito Processual Penal 5, fasc. 2 (30 giugno 2019): 773–817.
———. «The Emerging EU Extradition Law. Petruhhin and Beyond». New Journal of European Criminal Law 8, fasc. 2 (giugno 2017): 192–215.
Cremona, Marise. «EU External Action in the JHA Domain: A Legal Perspective». SSRN Electronic Journal, 2008.
Garrol, Lucas Ribeiro. "Cattle Theft, Criminal Action and Non-State Justice: The Birth of Public Penal Action Conditionate to Representation in Brazil (1860-1899)," Revista Brasileira de Direito Processual Penal 5, no. 2 (May/August 2019): 1107-1148
Gilbert, Geoff. Aspects of extradition law. International studies in human rights, v. 17. Dordrecht, Netherlands ; Boston : Norwell, MA, U.S.A: M. Nijhoff ; Sold and distributed in the U.S.A. and Canada by Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1991.
European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation. Guidelines on Joint Investigation Teams Involving Third Countries: June 2022. LU: Publications Office, 2022.
Herrera, Clara Burbano, e Yves Haeck. «The Historical and Present-Day Role of Non-Governmental Organisations before the Inter-American Human Rights System in Documenting Serious Human Rights Violations and Protecting Human Rights and the Rule of Law Through Ensuring Accountability». Utrecht Law Review 17, fasc. 2 (7 ottobre 2021): 8–25.
Eurojust. Joint Report of Eurojust and the EJN on the Extradition of EU Citizens to Third Countries: November 2020. LU: Publications Office, 2020.
Kostoris, Roberto E., a c. di. Handbook of European Criminal Procedure. Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2018.
«Manual on Mutual Legal Assistance and Extradition», United Nations Office on Drug and Crime, Vienna 2012.
Mitsilegas, Valsamis. «Internal and External Dimensions of Trust in Europe’s Area of Criminal Justice», revised and extended version of V. Mitsilegas, ‘Judicial concepts of trust in Europe’s multi‐level security governance’. From Melloni to Schrems via Opinion 2/13’ in EUCRIM –The European Criminal Law Associations’ Forum, Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Law, no 3, 2015, pp. 90‐95
Mitsilegass, Valsamis. «The European Model of Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters: Towards Effectiveness Based on Earned Trust», Revista Brasileira de Direito Processual Penal 5, no. 2 (May/August 2019): 565-596
Montaldo, Stefano. «Reabilitação e Transferência Internacional de Prisioneiros e Pessoas Sujeitas a Medidas Restritivas e Penas Alternativas: Uma Questão Problemática Para a Cooperação Judiciária Na UE Em Matéria Penal». Revista Brasileira de Direito Processual Penal 5, fasc. 2 (30 giugno 2019): 925–60.
Ruggeri, Stefano, a c. di. Transnational Inquiries and the Protection of Fundamental Rights in Criminal Proceedings. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2013.
Teixeira, Arley Fernandes. «O perdio do ofendido na cultura juridico-penal brasileira do seculo XIX: negociação no seculo da justitia publica?’», s.d.
Vara, Juan Santos. «The External Activities of AFSJ Agencies: The Weakness of Democratic and Judicial Controls». European Foreign Affairs Review 20, fasc. Issue 1 (1 febbraio 2015): 118–36.
Vervaele, John A E. «EXTRAORDINARY RENDITION AND THE SECURITY PARADIGM», International Law review, 19.
———,«Ne Bis In Idem: Towards a Transnational Constitutional Principle in the EU?» Utrecht Law Review 9, fasc. 4 (26 settembre 2013): 211.
———. «The Transnational Ne Bis in Idem Principle in the EU. Mutual Recognition and Equivalent Protection of Human Rights». Utrecht Law Review 1, fasc. 2 (6 dicembre 2005): 100.
Wade, Marianne L. «General Principles of Transnationalised Criminal Justice?Exploratory Reflections». Utrecht Law Review 9, fasc. 4 (26 settembre 2013): 165.
Wessel, Ramses A., Luisa Marin, e Claudio Matera. «The External Dimension of the EU’s Area of Freedom, Security and Justice». In Crime within the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice, a cura di Christina Eckes e Theodore Konstadinides, 1a ed., 272–300. Cambridge University Press, 2011.
Wildner Zambiasi, Vinícius, e Paloma Marita Cavol Klee. «A (possibilidade de) não execução do mandado de detenção europeu fundamentada no tratamento ou pena cruel ou degradante». Revista Brasileira de Direito Processual Penal 4, fasc. 2 (17 giugno 2018): 845.
Álvarez, Servando A. «Estado y poder: una visión de América Latina en el siglo XX», Volumen XXIX, n.os 57-58, junio-diciembre de 2006, 29.
Balfour, Rosa, Lizza Bomassi, e Marta Martinelli. «The Southern Mirror: Reflections on Europe From the Global South», 2022 Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Donadio, Luciano, e Carlos Espósito. «Inter-Jurisdictional Co-Operation in the MERCOSUR: The First Request for an Advisory Opinion of the MERCOSUR’s Permanent Review Tribunal by Argentina’s Supreme Court of Justice». The Law & Practice of International Courts and Tribunals 10, fasc. 2 (2011): 261–84.
European Commission. Directorate General for Trade. e LSE. Sustainability Impact Assessment in Support of the Association Agreement Negotiations between the European Union and Mercosur: Final Report. LU: Publications Office, 2022.
Malamud, Andrés. European Parliament. Directorate General for External Policies of the Union. ‘Assessing the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Pillar of the EU-Mercosur Association’Agreement: Towards a Bi Regional Strategic Partnership? : In Depth Analysis. LU: Publications Office, 2022.
Malamud, Andrés, e Miguel de Luca. «An Old World Yet to Discover? European Studies in the Latin American Southern Cone». European Political Science 11, fasc. 3 (settembre 2012): 325–36.
Mata Diz, Jamile. «The Mercosur and European Union Relationship: An Analysis on the Incorporation of the Association Agreement in Mercosur». Europe and the World: A Law Review 6, fasc. 1 (11 maggio 2022).
Orcalli, Gabriele. «MERCOSUR Common Market Building: Harmonization and (or) Mutual Recognition of Rules». Nueva Época, 2018, 18.
Vauthier Borges de Macedo, Paulo Emílio. «The Foundational Myth of Mercosur and the European Union Analogy». German Law Journal 20, fasc. 05 (luglio 2019): 734–47.

Albi, Anneli, e Samo Bardutzky, a c. di. National Constitutions in European and Global Governance: Democracy, Rights, the Rule of Law: National Reports. The Hague: T.M.C. Asser Press, 2019.
Coman, Ramona. «Strengthening the Rule of Law at the Supranational Level: The Rise and Consolidation of a European Network». Journal of Contemporary European Studies 24, fasc. 1 (2 gennaio 2016): 171–88.
———. The Politics of the Rule of Law in the EU Polity: Actors, Tools and Challenges. Palgrave Studies in European Union Politics. Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2022.
Gilder, Alexander. «UN Peace Operations and the Role of the Local in (Re)Building the Rule of Law». Utrecht Law Review 17, fasc. 2 (7 ottobre 2021): 70–86.
Govaere, Inge. «Promoting the Rule of Law in EU External Relations: A Conceptual Framework», Research Paper in Law, College of Europe, 3/2022.
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Stein, Robert. «What Exactly Is the Rule of Law?» HOUSTON LAW REVIEW, 2019, 18.

Personal Methods-Specific Bibliography (So Far)


Bailleux, Antoine, e François Ost. «Droit, contexte et interdisciplinarité : refondation d’une démarche». Revue interdisciplinaire d’études juridiques 70, fasc. 1 (2013): 25.

Bielen, Samantha, e Peter Grajzl. «Prosecution or Persecution? Extraneous Events and Prosecutorial Decisions». Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 18, fasc. 4 (dicembre 2021): 765–800.

Corten, Olivier. Méthodologie du droit international public. Bruxelles: Editions de l’Université de Bruxelles, 2017.

Duve, Thomas. «Entanglements in Legal History: Conceptual Approaches», s.d., 580.
Kestemont, Lina. Handbook on Legal Methodology. Cambridge: Intersentia, 2018.

Kroeze, Ij. «Legal Research Methodology and the Dream of Interdisciplinarity». Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal/Potchefstroomse Elektroniese Regsblad 16, fasc. 3 (19 settembre 2013): 35–65.

Landowski, Éric. «Sémiotique du droit : interdisciplinarité et pertinence». Revue interdisciplinaire d’études juridiques 21, fasc. 2 (1988): 125.

Maatsch, Aleksandra. «Effectiveness of the European Semester: Explaining Domestic Consent and Contestation». Parliamentary Affairs 70, fasc. 4 (1 ottobre 2017): 691–709.

Mulcahy, Sean. «Methodologies of Law as Performance». Law and Humanities 16, fasc. 2 (3 luglio 2022): 165–82.

Ragin, Charles C. «The Comparative Method, Moving Beyond Qualitative and Quantitative Strategies», 2014, University of California.


Sacco, Rodolfo. «Diversity and Uniformity in the Law». The American Journal of Comparative Law 49, fasc. 2 (2001): 171.

Selznick, Philip. «“Law in Context” Revisited». Journal of Law and Society 30, fasc. 2 (giugno 2003): 177–86.

Zumbansen, Peer. «Transnational Legal Pluralism». Transnational Legal Theory 1, fasc. 2 (luglio 2010): 141–89.

Selected Case Studies

BRAZIL - has been chosen as the case study of the research for the following reasons. On this, it must be highlighted that Brazil is the most impactful country within the South Market. To this regard, Brazil accounts for 80% of Mercosur’s population and 80 percent of its total GDP, additionally, there are three factors which
turn it into a dealmaker – or deal -breaker: its strong agribusiness sector (which favors the agreement), its powerful industrial lobby (which is more apprehensive), and its coverage of 60% of the Amazon rainforest (whose deforestation is one of the main obstacles to the finalization and
ratification of the agreement).’ Moreover, the Brazilian case is exemplary also for the political history of the country, even in recent years. The change of government Bolsonaro – Lula da Silva will, without doubt, influence the analysis of the research. The interesting Brazilian democracy's recent history will be a plus in the research concerning the cooperation with the EU. Furthermore, the possibility of conducting research in the field, meaning going to the FGV University in Rio De Janeiro clearly contributed to the delimitation of the research focusing on Brazil. The state of Brazil will be the subject of analysis, more precisely its judicial systems and its cooperation with other countries, meaning, the criminal cooperation with Mercosur, Latin America, and at the cross- continental level, particularly focusing on the relation with the EU.

EXTRADITION - It is useful to identify a specific tool to evaluate the judicial cooperation in criminal matters with Brazil. As the most suited tool, the research selected extradition. Extradition is the removal of a person from a requested jurisdiction to another jurisdiction for criminal prosecution or punishment. The procedure is the core of international cooperation in criminal matters. Indeed, extradition is the protagonist of a UN convention, and, while it deals mainly with the national states, it has become of interest at the supranational level, meaning the EU. The study will examine the number of extraditions within the selected Member States, looking at the procedures and at the detention conditions. Lastly, there will be an evaluation concerning the role of the EU. Extradition became a topic at the EU level when the ECJ was interrogated on cases concerning this judicial instrument. More specifically, Petruhin (C-
182/15); Schotthöfer & Steiner (C-473/15); and Pisciotti (C-191/16). These cases are exemplary to introduce the discussion concerning EU extradition because they discussed the refusal of the extradition in the case of EU citizenship. Moreover, the attention on Brazil’s extradition increased with the Battisti case since it raised cooperation in criminal matters.
Benedetta Arrighini is a law graduate at the University of Trento with a thesis in International Criminal law under the supervision of Professor Gabriele Fornasari: Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, origin, development and perspective of an hybrid tribunal. In this research she compared the transitional justice model of South American countries with the Kosovo’s future process. The thesis was published as a book in 2021.

During university she did a traineeship at the European Parliament, working in CULT and ECON Committees. Moreover she was an Erasmus Student in the Law faculty of Montpellier/1. While she was writing her thesis, she did a traineeship with the think tank Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso e Transeuropa in which she wrote article about the EU-Western Balkans relations. After graduation she started legal practice in Criminal law.

In 2021-2022 she was an L.L.M student at the College of Europe and she wrote a thesis in European Criminal Law under the supervision of Professor John A.E. Vervaele discussing the Foreign Terrorist Fighters’ Directive and the impact on the right to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence.

She was accepted as GEM DIAMOND Fellow in the Research Position 11, supervised by Professor Anne Weyembergh (ULB) and Professor Paula Almeida (FGV), and Prof. Rossella Sabia (LUISS)