CBRN-E

Chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear substances and explosives

Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear substances and explosives (CBRN-E) include substances and agents conceived, synthesised, extracted, processed and eventually produced, distributed and used by different actors. Amid a growing threat from terrorism and organised crime in Europe and internationally, lawmakers and national authorities face significant challenges to develop and enforce effective regulation regarding these potentially harmful materials.

Eurojust supports effective cooperation in CBRN-E cases by facilitating the use of cross-border investigative and cooperative instruments. The Agency also developed the Eurojust CBRN-E Handbook, which provides EU practitioners with an overview of EU and international legislation applicable to these harmful materials. The Handbook also describes the supranational entities, systems and databases active in the field of CBRN-E.

Challenges

Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear substances and explosives (CBRN-E) include substances and agents conceived, synthesised, extracted, processed and eventually produced, distributed and used by different actors. While it is relatively easy to store records relating to a banned biological substance, managing the movement, distribution, purchase and disposal of chemical substances used legally by industries and consumers worldwide is much more difficult.

The typical ‘cycle’ of a criminal project involving CBRN-E materials entails multiple individuals, steps and actions. In the build-up to an attack, terrorist or criminal organisations engage in planning, recruit scientists and purchase substances, often collaborating across countries to do so. To disrupt this cycle, the involved authorities must mirror it; investigators, police, prosecutors and other competent authorities must work together as part of an investigative network to disrupt the expected pattern of events.

Eurojust’s role

By using specialised channels and judicial cooperation bodies such as Eurojust, law enforcement and judicial authorities can develop an investigative network with the authorities in countries where criminal activity may have taken place. Eurojust supports effective cooperation in CBRN-E cases by facilitating the use of cross-border investigative and cooperative instruments – such as the European Investigation Order (EIO), mutual legal assistance (MLA) requests, and joint investigation teams (JITs) – and by enabling efficient exchanges of information and knowledge between authorities.

Furthermore, Eurojust helps to raise awareness of the various support systems in place throughout Europe and worldwide to control, limit or completely ban the production, distribution, exportation and misuse of CBRN-E. The Eurojust CBRN-E Handbook provides practitioners with an overview of relevant EU and international legislation, such as the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the Biological and Toxin Weapons (BTW) Convention and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The Handbook also provides information on relevant supranational systems, databases, actors, bodies and entities, including the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the Early Warning and Response System (EWRS), and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). The Handbook, which was published in June 2017, is available to view here.