Judicial cooperation: Council adopts negotiating mandate on two proposals to improve information exchange

© European Union, 2021, Source: Council of the EU – Audiovisual resources© European Union, 2021, Source: Council of the EU – Audiovisual resources

To step up the fight against cross-border crime, the Council today adopted its negotiating mandates on a proposal regarding digital information exchange in terrorism cases and a proposal to establish a collaboration platform for joint investigation teams. These proposals are part of ongoing efforts to modernise and digitalise cross-border judicial cooperation, making it easier for prosecutors and judges to exchange information and bring to justice the growing number of criminals and terrorists acting across borders. 

Information exchange in terrorism cases

Currently, member states share information with Eurojust on cases related to terrorism via various channels. This information is then included in the European judicial counter-terrorism register, a technically outdated system that does not allow for proper cross-checking of information.

The proposal aims to remedy these shortcomings and allow Eurojust to play a stronger and more proactive role in supporting coordination and cooperation between national authorities investigating and prosecuting terrorist offences.

Under the proposed rules, member states will need to provide Eurojust with information on any criminal investigations regarding terrorist offences as soon as such cases are referred to the judicial authorities. The proposal:

  • creates a modern, digital case-management system which stores this information and allows it to be cross-checked
  • empowers Eurojust to better detect links between transnational investigations and prosecutions in the field of terrorism and to proactively inform member states about the links found
  • creates a secure digital communication channel between member states and Eurojust
  • simplifies cooperation with third countries by granting liaison prosecutors seconded to Eurojust access to the case-management system

Collaboration platform for joint investigation teams

Ministers will aim to adopt a general approach on the draft regulation establishing a collaboration platform for joint investigation teams (JITs). Joint investigation teams are teams created for specific criminal investigations, for a fixed period of time. They are set up by the competent authorities of two or more member states, with the possible participation of third countries concerned, to jointly manage cross-border investigations. The JIT framework allows members of the team to exchange evidence directly, without the need for traditional judicial cooperation procedures.

The proposed platform will facilitate the daily coordination and management of a JIT, ensure the exchange and temporary storage of operational information and evidence, and ensure secure communication and evidence traceability.  It will be accessible via a secure internet connection and include a centralised information system and a connection between this system and relevant IT tools used by the JITs. Use of the platform will be strongly encouraged, but will remain voluntary.

Eu-LISA, the EU agency for the operational management of large scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice, will be tasked with designing, developing and operating the platform.

Next steps

Negotiations with the European Parliament on these proposals will start once the latter has adopted its position.