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Eurojust: Initiative of Portugal, France, Sweden and Belgium
To reinforce measures to combat serious organised crime by improving judicial cooperation and facilitating the coordination of investigations and proceedings under way in more than one Member State.
Initiative of the Portuguese Republic, the French Republic, the Kingdom of Sweden and the Kingdom of Belgium with a view to the adoption of a Council Decision setting up Eurojust with a view to reinforcing the fight against serious organised crime [Official Journal C 243 of 24.08.2000].
With a view to stepping up cooperation in the fight against crime, the Tampere European Council decided (cf. point 46 of its conclusions) to set up a unit known as Eurojust to coordinate the activities of the national authorities responsible for fighting organised crime. An initiative concerning the creation of Eurojust has already been presented by Germany.
This initiative, which is proposed by four Member States, provides for the creation of a judicial coordination unit (Eurojust) comprising one national member per Member State, who must be a prosecutor, magistrate or police officer.
The new coordination unit will deal with crime affecting two or more Member States and requiring coordinated action by the judicial authorities. Its responsibilities will include the following areas:
- the types of crime and offences covered by the Europol Convention;
- trafficking in human beings;
- acts of terrorism;
- protection of the euro;
- protection of the Communities' financial interests;
- computer crime;
- other forms of serious crime committed in connection with the aforementioned offences.
Eurojust may take the following measures in the course of its duties:
- issue a Member State with a (non-binding) request to undertake an investigation or institute proceedings in a specific case, or request several Member States to coordinate their investigations and prosecutions. Member States which refuse to comply will be required to state the reasons for their decision;
- help the Member States, at their request, to coordinate investigations and prosecutions, for example by inviting their judicial authorities to meet;
- ensure that the Member States are kept informed of investigations and prosecutions pending;
- in cooperation with the European Judicial Network, set up a database enabling Member States to obtain legal and practical information;
- assist Europol on request;
- take the necessary measures to simplify the execution of international letters rogatory.
Eurojust may also ask Europol and the judicial authorities of the Member States to provide it with information.
National members of Eurojust will be authorised to consult the national register of criminal records of their Member State and to access the Schengen database, subject to compliance with data-protection obligations.
Each Member State which wishes to do so may designate one or more national correspondents, who will centralise and facilitate the transmission to Eurojust of national information. Pursuant to the Convention of 29 May 2000 on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, Member States will also be required to inform Eurojust if they request the setting-up of a joint investigation team.
Data exchanged by Eurojust, the Member States, Europol and any other body will concern the facts of cases and the individuals under investigation or facing prosecution, in their Member State, for one or more offences covered by Eurojust. The data must be adequate, accurate and in keeping with the purpose they are designed to serve. Access will be restricted to authorised personnel and national members. In general, the following information should be provided:
- names, forenames and, where appropriate, aliases of the individuals concerned;
- description and nature of the facts;
- details of links with the other Member States concerned.
A confidentiality requirement will apply to all persons working for or with Eurojust.
Personal data undergoing automatic processing must be amended, corrected or deleted by Eurojust in the following instances:
- at the request of a Member State, its national member or national correspondent;
- if the data are incorrect.
Data will be stored only for as long as is necessary. A periodic review, carried out on the basis of specific criteria, will determine which data can be deleted. Eurojust and the Member States will take all necessary measures to ensure a high level of security and protection for personal data.
The initiative provides for close cooperation between Europol and Eurojust. Eurojust will also maintain a special relationship with the European Judicial Network.
The Commission (European Anti-Fraud Office) and liaison magistrates may, under certain conditions and on a case-by-case basis, be invited to participate in Eurojust's work.
Eurojust will have legal personality.
Eurojust will adopt its own rules of procedure and will be headed by a chairman, assisted by two vice-chairmen, all of whom will be chosen by the Council from among the national members.
The chairman will report each year to the Council on Eurojust's activities and on problems of crime policy within the Union. Eurojust may also draft proposals to improve judicial cooperation in criminal matters.
The Council Presidency will submit a special report to the European Parliament each year on the work carried out by Eurojust.
A decision will be taken on the location of Eurojust headquarters.
This initiative will come into effect on the first day of the third month following its publication in the Official Journal of the European Communities.
For further information, see the sheet on the Communication from the Commission on the establishment of Eurojust.
On 28 February 2002 the Council adopted a Decision establishing Eurojust.