European Journal of Policing Studies


Two systems, one challenge?

Comparing legal regulation on police co-operation in Australia and Europe

Keywords police cooperation, legal harmonisation, mutual recognition, EU, Australia
Authors Saskia Hufnagel
Author's information

Saskia Hufnagel
Queen Mary, University of London. Dr Saskia Hufnagel (corresp.: is a Lecturer in Criminal Law at Queen Mary, University of London. Her research interests encompass law enforcement cooperation in Asia, North America, the EU and Australasia, comparative constitutional law, terrorism legislation and the policing of art crime. She is a qualified German legal professional and accredited specialist in criminal law.
  • Abstract

      This article compares of legal harmonisation with a view to facilitating police cooperation in the EU and Australia. It addresses the main processes of harmonisation and the parallel strategies of mutual recognition and the creation broad legal frameworks in relation to both systems. The legal analysis is complemented by interviews with practitioners in the field to assess the impact of legal initiatives on actual police cooperation practice. It is argued that both systems have developed distinctive strategies to promote police cooperation through legal harmonisation, but that Australia, due to its federal political structure, has more potential to achieve harmonised and even uniform legislation within its states. However, the strategies developed in the EU to promote cooperation without legal harmonisation and in particular broad legal frameworks have created a high level of regional practitioner initiative promoting bilateral and multilateral formalisation of cooperation strategies that cannot be observed in Australia. Both entities have hence developed distinct structures that might be relevant to the respective other system. This study is the first to compare the Australian federal system of cooperation with the EU.

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