Criminal justice: Joint statement on the launch of EU-US negotiations to facilitate access to electronic evidence

European Commission and U.S. Department of Justice officials met yesterday to begin formal negotiations on an EU-U.S. agreement to facilitate access to electronic evidence in criminal investigations. European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová said: “I welcome the start of formal negotiations. Criminals use fast, modern technologies to organise their crimes and cover up their evidence. We need to work together with our American partners to speed up the access of our law enforcement authorities to this evidence. This will strengthen our security, while protecting the data privacy and procedural safeguards of our citizens. The launch of negotiations marks an important step towards achieving this.” U.S. Attorney General, William Barr said: “We are pleased that the Council adopted a mandate to authorise the Commission to negotiate an agreement with the United States on facilitating access to certain e-evidence, and that we have obtained authorisation to negotiate with the European Union. This type of agreement can enhance public safety and national security by providing an improved and more rapid ability to identify and respond to criminal threats on both sides of the Atlantic, in a manner that assures respect for the rule of law, privacy, and civil liberties. The U.S. is committed to working with the E.U. on this important issue.” After a productive first discussion, there was agreement to regular negotiating rounds with the view to concluding an agreement as quickly as possible. Progress will be reviewed at the next EU-U.S. Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial in December.