European Investigation Order

European Investigation Order

The European Investigation Order (EIO) is a judicial decision issued in or validated by the judicial authority in one EU country to have investigative measures to gather or use evidence in criminal matters carried out in another EU country. It is valid throughout the EU, but does not apply in Denmark and Ireland. The EIO is based on mutual recognition, which means that the executing authority is, in principle, obliged to recognise and ensure execution of the request of the other country.

The EIO was established by Directive 2014/41/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 April 2014 regarding the European Investigation Order in criminal matters. The Directive creates a single comprehensive framework for obtaining evidence (with the exception of JITs). The investigative measures include, for instance, the hearing of witnesses, telephone interceptions, covert investigations and information on banking operations.

Following its introduction in May 2017, the EIO offers judicial authorities a simpler and faster alternative to the traditional instruments for requesting evidence. In particular, the instrument provides practitioners with a single standard form for obtaining evidence. It outlines strict deadlines and establishes limited possibilities for refusal by the executing State.

Eurojust provides support and advice to national authorities across the full life cycle of the EIO, from drafting to the execution phase.

Eurojust’s role

Feedback gathered on the use of the EIO since its introduction suggests that judicial practitioners generally consider the EIO a valuable instrument. Nevertheless, a number of practitioners have expressed the need for guidance and support to extract the full benefits of the instrument. In particular, using the EIO requires a sound knowledge of national criminal law systems, quick access to the right contacts, and a pragmatic and flexible approach.

Eurojust provides support and advice to national authorities in all stages of the life cycle of the EIO:

  1. The issuing Member State’s judicial authority drafts the EIO, with the support of Eurojust, where needed, e.g. in regard to form and content.

  2. The issuing Member State’s judicial authority transmits the EIO to the judicial authority of the executing Member State, with the support of Eurojust, where needed.

  3. The executing Member State’s judicial authority recognises and executes the EIO, with the support of Eurojust, where needed, e.g. by improving communication between the issuing and executing Member States’ judicial authorities; and in overcoming legal and/or practical difficulties.

With regard to potential issues and questions arising from the execution of EIOs, Eurojust performs a bridge-making role to facilitate the communication between the judicial authorities involved. Such issues include:

  • questions regarding the scope and suitability of the EIO;

  • the non-recognition or refusal of the EIO by the executing State;

  • the need for timely involvement and intervention in the event of urgent cases; and

  • the application of specific investigative measures, including, for instance, the interception of telecommunications and gathering financial information from banks.

 

Further information

As part of its role in facilitating the use of the EIO, Eurojust also seeks to promote knowledge-sharing and best practice with regard to the use of EIOs. To this end, the agency organises expert meetings and workshops and publishes reports informing on best practice and key findings from EIO-related events. Relevant publications are available here.