Eurojust is an EU body established by Council Decision 2002/187/JHA to improve judicial cooperation in the fight against serious crime (amended by Council Decision 2003/659/JHA and Council Decision 2009/426/JHA). Since 2003, its seat has been in The Hague.
Eurojust helps national investigating and prosecuting authorities cooperate and coordinate in around 1500 cross-border cases a year. It helps to build mutual trust and to bridge the EU's wide variety of legal systems and traditions. By rapidly solving legal problems and identifying competent authorities in other countries, Eurojust facilitates the execution of requests for cooperation and mutual recognition instruments.
Promoting cooperation and coordination
Eurojust's main role is to promote cooperation and coordination between the competent judicial authorities in the EU countries involved in investigations and prosecutions of serious cross-border criminal cases.
- drug trafficking;
- trafficking of human beings;
- money laundering;
- criminal offences affecting the European Community's financial interests;
- environmental crime; and
Each EU country must appoint a national member of Eurojust:
- a prosecutor;
- judge; or
- police officer with equivalent competences.
These 27 national members are assisted by deputies and Assistants. They are all subject to the national laws of the EU country which appointed them. The minimum length of the term of office served by national members is four years.
Improving judicial cooperation
Regarding investigations and prosecutions (concerning at least two EU countries) in relation to serious crime, Eurojust has the task to:
promote coordination between the competent authorities of the various EU countries.
For example, Eurojust may organise meetings to set up a common strategy and coordinate the actions of various national authorities (planning simultaneous arrests, searches, seizures of property);
facilitate the execution of requests and decisions relating to judicial cooperation.
For example, European Arrest Warrants and other mutual recognition instruments.
This leads to more efficient investigations and prosecutions and helps to disrupt cross-border criminal organisations operating in different countries.
Eurojust may fulfil its tasks through one or more of the national members, or through the College of national members.
For instance, Eurojust may ask authorities in the EU Member States to:
- carry out an investigation or prosecution;
- set up a joint investigation team ;
- take investigative measures.
An On-Call Coordination (OCC) has been established, involving one representative from each EU country and with a contact point at Eurojust. It is active 24 hours a day, seven days a week, thus enabling Eurojust to fulfil its tasks at all times.
Relations with other bodies
In order to carry out its tasks, Eurojust maintains privileged relations with the:
- European Judicial Network (EJN) ;
- European Police Office (Europol);
- European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF);
- European External Borders Agency (Frontex);
- Joint Situation Centre of the Council.
After approval by the Council, Eurojust is able to conclude cooperation agreements on the exchange of information with non-EU countries, international organisations and other bodies.
Reform of Eurojust
This proposal assures the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, once the latter has been established, of Eurojust’s support in the fight against fraud to the EU. It also increases the democratic legitimacy of Eurojust: the European Parliament and national Parliaments will in future be more involved in the evaluation of Eurojust's activities.
Whilst maintaining those elements that have proved efficient in the management and operation of Eurojust, this new Regulation streamlines Eurojust’s functioning and structure in line with the Lisbon Treaty. To this end, the reform addresses the internal management of Eurojust. It clearly distinguishes between the operational tasks of the Eurojust College (the College being composed of national members – one from each of the European Union’s Member States) and administrative tasks. It will thus enable the College and the national members to focus on their operational tasks. A new Executive Board, which will include the Commission, will assist the College in its administrative tasks.
The proposal follows a common approach towards decentralised EU agencies , endorsed by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission in July 2012. The common approach addresses a number of key issues, including the role and position of the agencies in the EU's institutional landscape, their creation, structure and operation, funding, budgetary, supervision and management issues.
For more information on Eurojust you can consult Eurojust's website.