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Decision establishing Eurojust

The European Union (EU) would like to improve cooperation in the fight against crime. To this end, the Council set up Eurojust. This body of the Union is competent to act in investigations and prosecutions relating to serious crime concerning at least two Member States. Its role is to promote coordination between competent authorities in Member States and to facilitate their judicial cooperation. Eurojust also has a key role to play in the fight against terrorism.

ACT

Council Decision 2002/187/JHA of 28 February 2002 setting up Eurojust with a view to reinforcing the fight against serious crime [See amending act(s)].

SUMMARY

In order to step up cooperation in the fight against crime, the Tampere European Council decided (in point 46 of its conclusions) to set up a unit called Eurojust, with the objective of coordinating the activities carried out by national authorities responsible for prosecution. Several documents were presented on this subject during the year 2000:

  • an initiative of the Federal Republic of Germany;
  • an initiative of the Portuguese Republic, the French Republic, the Kingdom of Sweden and the Kingdom of Belgium;
  • a communication by the Commission to clarify its position on the setting up of Eurojust.

Subsequently, at the Intergovernmental Conference held in Nice in December 2000, the Heads of State and Government decided to amend Article 31 of the Treaty on European Union (EU), introducing a reference to, and a description of, Eurojust’s tasks. At the Laeken European Council in December 2001, Member States decided (in point 57 of the Council conclusions) that, pending a decision on the location of the headquarters of certain agencies, Eurojust would have its provisional headquarters in The Hague. At the December 2003 European Council, Member States decided that Eurojust would be headquartered in The Hague definitively.

Composition, competencies and tasks of Eurojust

This decision establishes Eurojust as a body of the Union with legal personality. Each Member State must appoint a national member to Eurojust headquarters: a prosecutor, judge or police officer (the latter must have competencies equivalent to the judge’s or the prosecutor’s). These national members are to be assisted by deputies and assistants. They are all subject to the national law of the Member State that appointed them. The length of the term of office of national members is a minimum of four years. The appointing Member State may renew the term. It also decides on the nature of the judicial powers conferred on its national representative. However, national members are to be granted at least certain ordinary powers, as well as other powers to be exercised in agreement with the competent national authority or in urgent cases, as defined in the decision.

Regarding investigations and prosecutions (concerning at least two Member States) in relation to serious crime, Eurojust has competence for:

  • promoting coordination between the competent authorities of the various Member States;
  • facilitating the execution of requests and decisions relating to judicial cooperation.

Eurojust’s competence covers, inter alia, the types of crime and offences for which Europol has competence at all times.

An On-Call Coordination (OCC) is to be established with one representative from each Member State and with a contact point at Eurojust. It is to act on a 24-hour/7-day basis, so that Eurojust may fulfil its tasks at all times.

Eurojust may fulfil its tasks through one or more of the national members or as a College. Eurojust may ask the authorities of the Member States concerned, inter alia, to:

  • undertake an investigation or prosecution;
  • set up a joint investigation team;
  • take special or other investigative measures.

The national authorities are to respond to these requests without delay.

The College issues non-binding opinions in cases where two or more national members are unable to resolve conflicts of jurisdiction as well as where competent authorities report recurrent refusals for, or other difficulties relating to, judicial cooperation.

The Commission, which is fully associated with the work of Eurojust, will jointly agree upon the necessary practical arrangements with Eurojust.

Each Member State is to appoint one or more national correspondents for Eurojust. Each Member State is also to set up a Eurojust national coordination system to coordinate the work of the Eurojust national correspondents, Eurojust national correspondent for terrorism matters, European Judicial Network national correspondent and contact points, as well as the national members or contact points of the Network for Joint Investigation Teams and representatives of Networks for War Crimes, Asset Recovery and Corruption.

Personal data

In order to realise its objectives, Eurojust must be able to exchange any relevant data with the competent authorities. To this end, the application of the principles of the Council of Europe Convention of 28 January 1981 for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data must be guaranteed.

Eurojust may only process data on persons who are suspected of having committed, or have been convicted of, an offence for which Eurojust has competence, as well as on victims and witnesses. The types of data that can be used include the person’s identity (full name, date and place of birth, nationality, contact details, profession, social security numbers, identification documents, DNA profiles, photographs, fingerprints, etc.) and the nature of the alleged offences (criminal category, date and place of the offence, type of investigation, etc.). A case management system with temporary work files and an index for personal and non-personal data is to be set up by Eurojust. Personal data are accessible only to national members and their deputies and assistants, to persons participating in Eurojust national coordination systems who are connected to the case management system, as well as to authorised Eurojust staff. It should be noted that the obligation of confidentiality continues to apply after the termination of their activities with Eurojust.

Within Eurojust, one member of staff is specially appointed to be responsible for data protection. His/her tasks include ensuring that the processing is lawful and that a written record of the transmission and receipt of data is kept.

Generally speaking, any individual may consult data concerning him/her and ask the data to be corrected or deleted if they are incorrect or incomplete. Any person who considers that they have suffered damage because of incorrect processing of data has the right to lodge a complaint. Eurojust is liable in accordance with the national law of the Member State where its headquarters are situated, while Member States are liable in accordance with their national law. The decision sets limits on consultations in relation to Eurojust’s activities (for example, in order to avoid compromising an investigation).

The data are kept only as long as strictly necessary after the conclusion of Eurojust’s activities. In any case, there is provision for a periodic review every three years.

Eurojust and the Member States protect the data in particular from destruction, loss, disclosure, alteration and unauthorised access.

An independent body monitors all of Eurojust’s activities in order to ensure that the processing of personal data is carried out in accordance with the decision. The Joint Supervisory Body meets periodically and when it is convened by its chairman. The chairman is appointed from permanent members that are in their third year of mandate.

Relations with other bodies

In order to carry out its tasks, Eurojust maintains privileged relations with the European Judicial Network, the European Police Office (Europol), the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the European External Borders Agency (Frontex) and the Joint Situation Centre of the Council. After approval by the Council, Eurojust will also be able to conclude cooperation agreements on the exchange of information with non-Member States, international organisations or bodies and the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol). Furthermore, Eurojust may coordinate judicial cooperation with non-Member States as well as to post liaison magistrates to these states for the purpose of facilitating this cooperation.

Final provisions

This decision includes provisions on the organisation and operation of Eurojust (organisation of the secretariat, appointment and length of term of office of the Administrative Director, status of staff, language arrangements, etc.).

The Council and the European Parliament are periodically informed of Eurojust’s activities and the state of play in terms of crime in the EU. In the annual report to the Council, Eurojust may make proposals for the improvement of judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

REFERENCES

Act

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2002/187/JHA

6.3.2002

6.9.2003

OJ L 63 of 6.3.2002

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Decision 2003/659/JHA

1.10.2003

-

OJ L 245 of 29.9.2003

Decision 2009/426/JHA

4.6.2009

4.6.2011

OJ L 138 of 4.6.2009

RELATED ACTS

Report from the Commission of 6 July 2004 on the legal transposition of the Council Decision of 28 February 2002 setting up Eurojust with a view to reinforcing the fight against serious crime [COM(2004) 457 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
In this report, the Commission analyses the implementation of the Eurojust decision, which it deems to be disappointing: by the deadline set (September 2003), only one Member State (Portugal) had passed the complete legislation necessary to comply with the Eurojust decision. Despite the fact that by April 2004 three more Member States had adopted the relevant laws (Austria, France, Germany), six others still need to bring their national law into conformity with the decision (Belgium, Finland, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain). The remaining Member States concluded that they did not need to amend their national law. The Commission therefore wonders whether the existing rules in Member States will suffice to give full effect to the Eurojust decision and to make Eurojust an efficient and effective tool. Accordingly, it calls on all Member States to ensure a rapid and complete transposition of the Eurojust decision. In this connection, it recommends the drawing up of guidelines or circulars clarifying certain essential issues even where legislation is not indispensable; the promotion of a sufficiently rapid information flow; and the conferral on their Eurojust national members the judicial and/or investigative powers necessary.

Last updated: 26.08.2009

See also

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