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Communication from the Commission on the establishment of Eurojust
To set up a Eurojust unit in order to promote effective cooperation between national prosecuting authorities and assist investigations into organised crime.
Communication from the Commission on the establishment of Eurojust [COM(2000) 746 - Not published in the Official Journal].
Further to point 46 of the conclusions of the Tampere European Council, which provided for a unit known as Eurojust to be set up, several Member States (the Federal Republic of Germany on the one hand and Portugal, France, Sweden and Belgium on the other) have presented proposals for framework decisions to the Council pursuant to Article 34(2) TEU. While not ruling out the possibility of presenting a proposal on that subject, the Commission has preferred to adopt a position in the form of a communication.
The Commission takes the view that Eurojust's activities should not be confined to combating serious organised crime but should extend to all major criminal offences. It rejects the idea of drawing up a definitive list of responsibilities for Eurojust as that approach would require a Council decision to be taken every time a new offence was included.
In the light of Eurojust's broad mandate, the Commission suggests that it identify a number of priorities, such as combating organised crime and counterfeiting of the euro. It advocates close cooperation between Eurojust and OLAF on offences affecting the Communities' financial interests.
The Commission believes that Eurojust should mark a further qualitative step in closer judicial cooperation and go beyond the work carried out by the European Judicial Network.
Tasks of Eurojust
In the Commission's opinion, Eurojust should be more than a documentation and information centre which cooperates with the national authorities on an abstract level. The unit should be involved in individual criminal investigations and should be able to contribute actively to the coordination of cases. It should also be enabled to mediate between national authorities so as to reveal correlation between cases and the investigations conducted by the various national authorities.
The Commission also suggests giving Eurojust responsibility for the following areas:
- pooling expertise and setting up direct personal contacts with the European Judicial Network or the competent national authorities;
- addressing opinions and formal recommendations to national authorities;
- issuing binding information requests to national authorities;
- consulting national registers of convictions and proceedings;
- consulting records of criminal cases involving two or more Member States;
- promoting active cooperation with Europol;
- developing relations with prosecuting authorities in the applicant countries.
Status of Eurojust
To ensure that Eurojust provides rapid and effective support, its structure should be as clear-cut and simple as possible. In the event of Eurojust being called on to provide legal advice, the Commission suggests applying the collegial principle for questions concerning the law of more than one Member State or international law. The unit should be given legal personality and its own budget in order to guarantee a certain degree of independence and autonomy.
The national delegates appointed by each Member State should be based permanently at Eurojust's central office, thus ensuring access to its databases and infrastructure. The Commission is in favour of limiting the number of delegates given that the Member States already have contact points within the European Judicial Network. The national delegates should be authorised to provide advice on national law directly to the requesting delegates, on their own responsibility. Together with a delegate from the Commission, the national delegates will form a Steering Committee which will be the central body of Eurojust.
The Steering Committee will be able to adopt common positions, opinions or recommendations. These will be considered as decisions taken by Eurojust as a body.
Relations with the European Judicial Network
Given that Eurojust and the Judicial Network have different characteristics and responsibilities, the Commission is in favour of taking action to avoid conflicts of responsibility and duplication. It suggests that national judges and prosecutors continue to address queries to the contact points of the European Judicial Network, whereas those contact points and the relevant bodies and institutions at Union level should deal direct with Eurojust. Eurojust will function as a kind of central headquarters of the Judicial Network, or as a central unit working in conjunction with the national contact points.
Relations with Europol
Eurojust will complement and support Europol's work by:
- providing legal advice on judicial matters;
- coordinating the activities of the national prosecuting authorities.
To ensure effective cooperation, Eurojust will have access to Europol data.
5) FOLLOW-UP WORK
On 28 February 2002 the Council adopted a Decision establishing Eurojust.