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Simplifying the exchange of information between law enforcement authorities

This framework decision is designed to simplify the exchange of information between law enforcement authorities in the Member States. Adopted in the wake of the Madrid attacks, it institutes a new legal system improving information exchange, for example by fixing a time frame for responding to requests.

ACT

Council Framework Decision 2006/960/JHA of 18 December 2006 on simplifying the exchange of information and intelligence between law enforcement authorities of the Member States of the European Union.

SUMMARY

Law enforcement authorities * may exchange information * in the framework of:

  • the performance of their duties;
  • a criminal investigation * or a criminal intelligence operation *.

Legal rules for the exchange of information

Information may be exchanged via any existing international channel of cooperation, and also with Europol and Eurojust if it falls within the scope of their respective mandates.

The requesting law enforcement authority sets out the factual reasons leading it to request the information from the other agency, and the exchange then takes place according to the data protection rules:

  • of the international channel of cooperation;
  • of the Member State receiving the request, if the exchange is made directly.

Requests for information regarding offences referred to in Article 2(2) of the framework decision instituting the European arrest warrant (offences to which the rule of dual criminality does not apply) must be responded to within one week (within 8 hours, if the matter is urgent) when the requested information is held in a database that is directly accessible to the law enforcement authority addressed. Otherwise, the maximum period for response is 14 days.

The exchange of information between the law enforcement authorities of different Member States should not be subject to stricter conditions than those that apply between law enforcement authorities within a State.

Information can also be provided spontaneously. In this case, the law enforcement authority should provide only the information it considers relevant and necessary for the successful prevention of an offence.

Limits to the provision of information

The framework decision does not impose any obligation on law enforcement authorities to gather information in response to a request from an authority in another Member State or to obtain information by means of coercive measures. Likewise, there is no obligation to communicate information that is likely to be used as evidence before a judicial authority, although the agency supplying the information may expressly consent to this (Article 1(4) in fine).

Information that has been obtained from a third Member State or a third country can only be exchanged between the law enforcement authorities of two Member States with the consent of that third state.

If the exchange of information between law enforcement authorities within a State requires the agreement of a judicial authority, then the exchange of information between the law enforcement authorities of two different Member States also requires judicial authorisation.

A law enforcement authority may refuse to comply with a request for information if:

  • providing the information would be likely to harm essential national security interests or to jeopardise a criminal investigation, or if the information is clearly disproportionate or irrelevant with regard to the purpose for which its has been requested;
  • the request pertains to an offence punishable by a term of imprisonment of one year or less;
  • the judicial authority is opposed to it.

The Member States may conclude new bilateral agreements or continue to apply existing ones only if these help make information-exchanging procedures under the framework decision more flexible.

Background

This framework decision responds to a request made by the European Council at a meeting convened on 25 March 2004, following the terrorist attacks in Madrid. Its object is to modernise the exchange of information between the law enforcement authorities of the Member States by replacing the provisions of the convention implementing the Schengen Agreement on the transmission of information (Article 39) and the spontaneous provision of information (Article 46).

Key definitions
  • Law enforcement authority: national police, customs or other authority that is authorised to detect, prevent and investigate offences and to exercise authority and take coercive measures in that context.
  • Criminal investigation: a procedural stage within which measures are taken with a view to establishing and identifying facts, suspects and circumstances regarding one or several identified concrete criminal acts.
  • Criminal intelligence operation: a procedural stage, not yet having reached the stage of a criminal investigation, within which a law enforcement authority collects, processes and analyses information about crime or criminal activities.
  • Information or intelligence: any type of information held by law enforcement authorities, and any type of information held by public authorities or private entities and which is available to law enforcement authorities without taking coercive measures.

REFERENCES

ActDate of entry into forceFinal date for implementation in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Decision 2006/960/JHA30.12.200619.12.2006OJ L 386 of 29.12.2006
Last updated: 15.04.2008
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