Combating crime across borders
Globalisation and people's increasing mobility across the EU create new opportunities for cross - border crime. This is why mutual legal assistance and agreements on extradition are essential to stop cross -border crime.
What is mutual legal assistance?
Mutual legal assistance is a form of cooperation between different countries for the purpose of collecting and exchanging information. Authorities from one country may also ask for and provide evidence located in one country to assist in criminal investigations or proceedings in another.
Extradition is a legal process for the purpose to transfer from one state to another for the purposes of facing trial or sentence.
Mutual legal assistance in the EU
Mutual legal assistance mechanisms are progressively being replaced by mutual recognition instruments. However, one agreement between EU countries is still in place: the convention on mutual assistance in criminal matters strengthens cooperation between judicial, police and customs authorities.
With Europeans increasingly on the move, the number of international situations is growing where judicial cooperation in criminal matters is necessary.
The EU has concluded agreements on extradition and mutual legal assistance with the United States of America, as well as with Japan, Iceland and Norway.
EU - US agreements
After the 9/11 terror attacks, the EU and the US improved cooperation on law enforcement and judicial cooperation.
In 2003, the first international agreements in the field of justice and home affairs were signed by the EU. The two agreements entered into force on 1 February 2010. The EU - US framework agreements facilitate and expedite assistance between the EU and the United States.
EU - Japan agreement
The agreement between the EU and Japan on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters introduces modern cooperation tools, such as video testimony and the exchange of bank information.