'The Fear of Insignificance': New Perspectives on Harmonising Police Cooperation in Europe and Australia

Saskia Hufnagel

Abstract


Despite the fact that Australia and the European Union (EU) have different structures of governance, histories, and cultures, both entities face remarkably similar problems in relation to police cooperation across borders. Australia is divided in nine different criminal jurisdictions, each of them policed by its own police force. Problems of border crossing, information exchange and joint investigations therefore arise similar to those in the EU. These problems have intensified in the 20th century with globalisation and the increased mobility of offenders. Several strategies, both legal and administrative, have necessarily developed to secure inter-state borders. Many of these strategies, like joint investigation teams, common databases and mutual recognition can be compared to solutions developed in the EU. This article will analyse some of the strategies that have been developed in Australia and in the EU to out-balance the lack of borders within them. It will be discussed what the major common impediments to police cooperation are in both entities. As many problems of cross-border policing result from the fact that law enforcement strategies are purely regional, it will be explored how more advanced cooperation strategies could be harmonised at the EU and Australian Federal levels. The major inhibiting factor in relation to harmonisation of legal frameworks in both entities will be defined as ‘the fear of insignificance’ or the fear of state actors to lose their individual identities in the process of harmonisation.

Keywords


Police cooperation; Harmonisation

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