European Union's Judicial Cooperation Unit (Eurojust)
Eurojust celebrated its tenth anniversary on 28 February 2012. The discussion on the establishment of a judicial cooperation unit was first introduced at a European Council Meeting in Tampere, Finland, on 15 and 16 October 1999, attended by heads of state and government. This meeting was dedicated to the creation of an area of freedom, security and justice in the European Union, based on solidarity and on the reinforcement of the fight against trans-border crime by consolidating cooperation among authorities.
To reinforce the fight against serious organised crime, the European Council, in its Conclusion 46, agreed that a unit (Eurojust) should be set up, composed of national prosecutors, magistrates, or police officers of equivalent competence, detached from each Member State according to their own legal systems.
On 14 December 2000, on the initiative of Portugal, France, Sweden and Belgium, a provisional judicial cooperation unit was formed under the name Pro-Eurojust, operating from the Council building in Brussels. National Members were then called National Correspondents. This unit was the forerunner of Eurojust, the purpose of which was to be a sounding board of prosecutors from all Member States, where Eurojust’s principles would be tried and tested.
Pro-Eurojust formally started work on 1 March 2001 under the Swedish Presidency of the European Union.
Mission and tasks
Eurojust stimulates and improves the coordination of investigations and prosecutions between the competent authorities in the Member States and improves the cooperation between the competent authorities of the Member States, in particular by facilitating the execution of international mutual legal assistance and the implementation of extradition requests. Eurojust supports in any way possible the competent authorities of the Member States to render their investigations and prosecutions more effective when dealing with cross-border crime.
At the request of a Member State, Eurojust may assist investigations and prosecutions concerning that particular Member State and a non-Member State if a cooperation agreement has been concluded or if an essential interest in providing such assistance is demonstrated.
Eurojust's competence covers the same types of crime and offences for which Europol has competence, such as terrorism, drug trafficking, trafficking in human beings, counterfeiting, money laundering, computer crime, crime against property or public goods including fraud and corruption, criminal offences affecting the European Community's financial interests, environmental crime and participation in a criminal organisation. For other types of offences, Eurojust may assist in investigations and prosecutions at the request of a Member State.
Eurojust may ask the competent authorities of the Member States concerned to:
- investigate or prosecute specific acts;
- coordinate with one another;
- accept that one country is better placed to prosecute than another;
- set up a Joint Investigation Team; or
- provide Eurojust with information necessary to carry out its tasks.
- shall ensure that the competent authorities inform each other of investigations and prosecutions of which they have been informed;
- shall assist the competent authorities in ensuring the best possible coordination of investigations and prosecutions;
- shall give assistance to improve cooperation between the competent national authorities, in particular based on Europol's analyses;
- shall cooperate and consult with the European Judicial Network (EJN), and make use of and contribute to the improvement of its documentary database;
- may, in accordance with its objectives, try to improve cooperation and coordination between the competent authorities, and forward requests for judicial assistance when they: (i) are made by the competent authority of a Member State, (ii) concern an investigation or prosecution conducted by that authority in a specific case, and (iii) necessitate its intervention with a view to coordinated action;
- may assist Europol, particularly with opinions based on analyses carried out by Europol; and
- may supply logistical support, e.g. assistance in translation, interpretation and the organisation of coordination meetings.See more