Compensation for victims of crime is available in various forms throughout the EU.
There are two channels of compensation. Victims can either:
- pursue a claim against the offender; or
- they can ask for compensation by the State.
Each EU country has its own system for compensating victims for the damage resulting from crime. The EU has also put in place legislation that facilitates access to compensation in situations where the crime was committed in an EU country other than the victim's country of residence:
- Council Directive 2004/80/EC relating to compensation to crime victims
This Directive from 29 April 2004 ensures that each EU country has a national scheme in place which guarantees fair and appropriate State compensation to victims of violent intentional crimes. It also ensures that compensation is easily accessible regardless of where in the EU a person becomes the victim of a crime. To achieve this, it contains the following provisions:
- Victims have the right to submit an application for compensation following a violent intentional crime in their EU country of residence.
- Compensation is paid by the EU country where the crime was committed.
- EU countries must establish an assisting authority to help applicants with their compensation claims, and a deciding authority to decide on compensation.
- The assisting authority will transmit applications for compensation to the deciding authority of the EU country where the crime took place.
- The deciding authority will manage the application and take the decision after hearing the applicant.
- All communications must be made in the languages used by the deciding authority, except for hearing reports, which will be drawn up in the language used by the assisting authority (and normally the victim).
- Directive 2012/29/EU establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, contains the following provisions (Article 16) on offender compensation:
- EU countries must ensure that victims of crime receive information on the conditions under which they are entitled to compensation.
- Victims are entitled to obtain a decision within reasonable time limits, on compensation by the offender in the course of criminal proceedings, except for cases where national law provides for such a decision to be made in other legal proceedings.
- EU countries must promote measures to encourage the offender to provide adequate compensation to victims.
- Victims have the right for recoverable property belonging to them and which was seized in the course of criminal proceedings, to be returned without delay.