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Legal framework

EU legal framework

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Article 85 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union provides for a new legal basis for the future development of Eurojust. Eurojust’s mission shall be to support and strengthen coordination and cooperation between national investigating and prosecuting authorities in relation to serious crime affecting two or more Member States or requiring a prosecution on common bases, on the basis of operations conducted and information supplied by the Member States’ authorities and by Europol.

By means of regulations adopted in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, the European Parliament and the Council shall determine Eurojust’s structure, operation, field of action and tasks. These tasks may include:

(a)   the initiation of criminal investigations, as well as proposing the initiation of prosecutions conducted by competent national authorities, particularly those relating to offences against the financial interests of the Union;

(b)   the coordination of investigations and prosecutions referred to in point (a);

(c)   the strengthening of judicial cooperation, including by resolution of conflicts of jurisdiction and by close cooperation with the European Judicial Network

These regulations shall also determine arrangements for involving the European Parliament and national Parliaments in the evaluation of Eurojust’s activities.

In the prosecutions referred to in Article 85, formal acts of judicial procedure shall be carried out by the competent national officials.

Article 86 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union provides for the possibility of establishing a European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) from Eurojust in order to combat crimes affecting the financial interests of the Union. The EPPO may be established by the Council, according to a special legislative procedure, acting unanimously and after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament. The Treaty provides also for the possibility to create it by enhanced cooperation established by at least nine Member States in conformity with the provisions on enhanced cooperation. The EPPO shall be responsible for investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgment, where appropriate in liaison with Europol, the perpetrators of offences against the Union’s financial interests. It shall exercise the functions of prosecutor in the competent courts of the Member States in relation to such offences. Moreover, the Treaty provides for the possibility to extend the powers of the EPPO to include under its sphere of competence serious crime having a cross-border dimension.

The Stockholm Programme – an open and secure Europe serving and protecting citizens refers several times to the role of Eurojust. In particular, it states that “in the field of judicial cooperation, the European Council emphasises the need for Member States and Eurojust to implement thoroughly Council Decision 2009/426/JHA of 16 December 2008 on the strengthening of Eurojust, which, together with the Lisbon Treaty, offers an opportunity for the further development of Eurojust in the coming years, including in relation to initiation of investigations and resolving conflicts of competence. On the basis of an assessment of the implementation of this instrument, new possibilities could be considered in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Treaty, including giving further powers to the Eurojust national members, reinforcement of the powers of the College of Eurojust or the setting-up of a European Public Prosecutor”.