Eurojust heralds a new phase in its development, as it officially becomes the European Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, with the application of the Eurojust Regulation as the new legal basis.
The new Regulation will make Eurojust fit for the purpose of fighting increasing levels of cross-border crime, with an Executive Board dealing with administrative matters and giving the College of prosecutors from all Member States more leeway to focus on the continuously rising number of criminal cases. Eurojust will start applying many of the standard rules of the decentralised Agencies.
Eurojust President Mr Ladislav Hamran said: ‘This is an important step for Eurojust, marking the beginning of a new phase in our existence. The new Regulation improves our decision-making process and gives us a more elaborate legal basis to work on. This means that we can continue to support National Members and their teams in the fight against cross-border crime, while being better prepared for the future challenges that await us.’
European Commissioner for Justice Mr Didier Reynders stated: ‘The Regulation marks a new phase for Eurojust, just at the same time as a new phase for me has started as European Commissioner for Justice. This new legal basis and expansion of the scope are great ways forward to help Eurojust improve its actions against international criminal networks and to enhance security in the European Union. When it comes to security, the judicial component of all actions is of paramount importance, in order to ensure all over the European Union justice will be done. I look very much forward to good cooperation with Eurojust.’
Finnish Minister of Justice Ms Anna-Maja Henriksson said: ‘Eurojust has become and is an important partner for the national public prosecution offices and investigating authorities of the Member States of the EU in their fight against cross-border crime. As crime becomes more cross-border, so must the crime fighters. The new Eurojust Regulation will enhance security and justice for all European citizens. Eurojust needs to be equipped to face new challenges posed by technological developments and the threats resulting from the evolving security landscape.’
Member of the European Parliament Mr Axel Voss, rapporteur for the European Parliament on the Eurojust Regulation, pointed out: ‘Improving the fight against cross-border crime by enhancing Eurojust’s operational capabilities was the guiding principle for the European Parliament’s position on the new Eurojust Regulation. A new governance structure helps Eurojust to concentrate on its established and effective operational tools and to become more proactive. The cooperation with Europol, Frontex, OLAF and the soon to be established EPPO will be enhanced. At the same time, the European Parliament has made sure that Eurojust has a robust data protection regime taking into account the nature of Eurojust’s mandate. This new legal framework will help Eurojust to be fit for purpose in the 21st century. The European Parliament is, however, aware that the appropriate funding for its activities is required and supports Eurojust in this.’
- A new governance structure, with an Executive Board of six members.
- A new data protection regime, adapting it to the revised EU legal framework on data protection;
- The alignment of Eurojust’s external relations with the principles introduced in this field by the Treaty of Lisbon;
- The strengthened role of the European and national Parliaments in the democratic oversight of Eurojust’s activities;
- The new relationship between Eurojust and the European Public Prosecutor’s Office based on mutual cooperation within their respective mandates and competences, and the development of operational, management and possibly administrative links;
- Because Denmark is not bound by the Eurojust Regulation, on 11 December, a cooperation agreement between Denmark and Eurojust has taken effect. The Danish Desk will be replaced by a Representative, a Deputy and an Assistant, who may attend College meetings as an observer without voting rights, and may exchange information with the National Desks; and
- Genocide and war crimes have been added to forms of serious crime for which Eurojust shall be competent and that are listed in Annex 1 to the Regulation.
The College of Eurojust, comprising all the National Members, will remain in place, as will the Administrative Director. An Executive Board will be established to assist the College.
The Executive Board will be composed of:
- the President and two Vice-Presidents;
- a representative of the European Commission when the College exercises its management functions; and
- two other College National Members designated on a two-year rotation system.
The Administrative Director attends the meetings of the Executive Board without the right to vote.
The College will be responsible for operational work and key management functions, for example:
- adopting the budget, annual and multi-annual programming and the annual report; and
- electing the President and Vice-Presidents and appointing the Administrative Director.
The Executive Board will be responsible for:
- Taking some administrative decisions (e.g. adopting implementing rules of the Staff Regulations, financial rules, anti-fraud strategy);
- Reviewing certain administrative documents before they are submitted to the College; and
- Establishing or modifying internal administrative structures.
Data protection oversight
The data protection regime applicable to Eurojust will also change. For instance, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) will be responsible for the external supervision of our compliance, replacing the Joint Supervisory Body (JSB).
The UK and Ireland have decided to opt-in to the Eurojust Regulation in March and August, 2019, respectively.