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4.1 Support to 262 joint investigation teams

In 2020, Eurojust provided legal, financial and/or operational support to 262 JITs. During 2020, 74 JITs were established and 188 were ongoing from previous years. Several measures were taken to make sure the assistance to JITs, including funding, could remain fully available after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The support covers the entire life cycle of a cross-border investigation, from the planning, setting up of the JIT, and legal and practical aid during the operational phase and the evaluation.

The JITs active in 2020 focused on a wide range of crime types, predominantly swindling and fraud, drug trafficking and money laundering.

 

In 2020, 115 of the active JITs were also funded by Eurojust to cover costs for travel and accommodation, interpretation and translation, and the transfer of items seized during JIT operations. The total budget allocated for this purpose was EUR 1.46 million. As part of its JIT funding activities, Eurojust also continued lending equipment such as mobile telephones, laptops, mobile printers and scanners.

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JIT funding

JIT funding

The budget earmarked for JIT funding has steadily increased from EUR 500 000 in 2015 to nearly EUR 1.5 million in 2020. While several measures were taken to make sure the assistance to JITs, including access to funding, could remain fully available after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenging global situation resulted in fewer funding requests than initially expected. The total budget consumption during the year was, therefore, comparable to that in 2019. To meet the expected growing demand for JIT funding by national judicial and law enforcement authorities as societies open up again, the budget earmarked for JITs in 2021 has been increased by 33% to EUR 1.94 million.

The JITs funding programme is managed by the JITs Network Secretariat, which is hosted by Eurojust. It encourages and promotes best practice in the use of JITs and supports and stimulates the activities of the JITs Network, a network of relevant national experts.

Since Eurojust and Europol can provide financial support to JITs, in 2020 both organisations prepared a joint Funding Schemes flyer on their respective funding possibilities, which was presented during the 16th annual meeting of the JITs’ national experts. The flyer gives a comprehensive overview of the available funding opportunities offered by both agencies to national law enforcement and judicial authorities in need of financial support, providing initial knowledge and stimulating contact to find out which funding scheme is most suitable

Growing involvement of third countries in JITs

Growing involvement of third countries in JITs

One of the main conclusions of the Third JIT Evaluation Report is that JITs with third countries are becoming more successful while the number of JITs involving third countries has also increased over the years.

The report was published in March 2020 by the JITs Network Secretariat together with Eurojust and is based on almost 100 evaluations performed by JIT practitioners between November 2017 and November 2019. While focusing on setting up and operation of JITs in practice, a special chapter, it contains information on Eurojust’s experience concerning JITs involving third countries, the main challenges and best practices identified and the possibilities of additional support by Liaison Prosecutors posted from several third countries at Eurojust.

Towards further digitalisation of JITs

Towards further digitalisation of JITs

During 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic clearly demonstrated the evolving need for the digitalisation of cross-border judicial cooperation, including JITs. The 16th Annual Meeting of National Experts on JITs, which took place online, focused on how to enable the further digitalisation of investigations. Among other issues, the participants exchanged their views on the need to have a secure and fast exchange of information and evidence within the scope of a JIT. This is in line with the proposal by the European Commission in December 2020 to establish a joint investigation teams collaboration platform as part of the new Digital Criminal Justice initiative.

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