All publications

WEBINAR – EU and CoE interventions on prison overcrowding : a critical analysis

9 countries

On Wednesday 13 December 2023 at 16.00 CET the European Prison Litigation Network and the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) are pleased to invite you to discuss the effects and questions raised by the interventions of bodies of the Council of Europe (CoE) and the European Union (EU) to address prison overcrowding in Europe.

The webinar will bring together researchers and civil society activists engaged in the prison field to present the findings of a research coordinated by the EPLN and the ULB in nine countries who have been subject to a pilot or quasi-pilot judgment of the ECtHR (Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Romania), and which analyses the impact of European interventions on domestic prison and criminal policies.


Simultaneous translation in English, French, and Russian will be available.


Although prison overcrowding has been a focus of action for CoE bodies for decades, it persists in a quarter of CoE member states. This observation suggests that CoE interventions and the reforms subsequently adopted by the States have not altered the underlying causes of the problem. Should we look for the causes in a fragmented understanding of the causes of prison overcrowding or in a political balance of power unfavourable to the CoE?

In this context, what does the growing commitment of the European Union (EU) to this issue, with the recently adopted recommendation on detention conditions, augur? What is the added value of the EU’s interventions, compared with the corpus developed and the methods used by the CoE? What synergy can be envisaged between the two organisations on prison issues?

Through five presentations, we will have a critical look at the way in which the CoE and the EU have framed the problem of prison overcrowding (Julien Fischmeister, Université libre de Bruxelles/Université Grenoble Alpes and Leandro Mancano, University of Edinburgh), whether the solutions proposed are consistent with what is known about prison demographics and the factors contributing to overcrowding (Annie Kensey, CESDIP), and how these interventions have had an impact on two countries targeted by pilot judgementsPoland (Marcin Wolny, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights) and Hungary (Zsófia Moldova, Hungarian Helsinki Committee).


Funded by the European Union’ Justice Programme. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the speakers only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. The European Union cannot be held responsible for them.