Coordination centres

Coordination centreCoordination centres are a judicial tool created by Eurojust in support to action days against criminal organisations and terrorist groups, where arrests, searches, interviews of suspects and witnesses, seizures of evidence and freezing of assets are carried out in several countries at the same time.

Eurojust coordinates the efforts of the competent national authorities, continuously monitors the ongoing operations, assists with legal and practical advice and facilitates the issuing of critical judicial instruments, ensuring that the actions taken lead to successful prosecutions.

Key to success is the unique setting in which representatives of the National Desks and/or Liaison Prosecutors of the involved countries supported by legal and technical experts from Eurojust operate from the coordination centre. Coordination centres are set up from a dedicated Eurojust room equipped with state-of-the-art technology and/or virtually via videoconference facilities, to ensure that evidence and information collected on the ground are swiftly exchanged amongst all involved national authorities in a secure environment.

Role and measures

Coordination centres provide a central hub for the real-time exchange of information and coordination required for the joint execution of investigative measures in different countries. The specific measures and actions enabled by coordination centres include:

  • arrests;
  • searches of houses and other premises;
  • seizures of assets such as cash and property, as well as illicit items;
  • hearings of suspects and witnesses; and
  • asset freezing.

In addition to their value as an operational tool during a joint action day, coordination centres also play a significant role in the development of the judicial dimension of criminal cases, particularly in facilitating the anticipation and timely resolution of complex legal issues arising prior to and during action days. Such issues include those stemming from the different domestic legal frameworks of confiscation and asset seizures or the procedural requirements set out at a national level for the execution of European Arrest Warrants (EAWs) and European Investigation Orders (EIOs).

Support by Eurojust

Eurojust organises and prepares the coordination centre based on judicial and operational needs and constraints usually determined in the preceding coordination meeting and on specific requests from national authorities to another Member State and/or third party.

Prior to the action day, Eurojust sets up all necessary communication channels. Judicial cooperation advisors support the drafting of judicial tools and instruments, and compile critical information needed to roll out the action day, including contact lists, an overview of targets and measures to be executed.

On the action day, Eurojust provides a secure physical and/or virtual operational platform with dedicated telephones, secure email and videoconferencing facilities, as well as access to the Schengen Information System, SIENA, and open sources.

Based on the information received from authorities, the coordination centre regularly communicates the state of play of the execution of measures. This helps authorities to adapt their strategies on the spot. The National Desk/Liaison Prosecutor representatives remain in continuous contact with the involved national authorities, offering judicial and practical support in their native language.

Information collected during the action day can be transmitted, allowing for its use as evidence. The visualisation chart and state of play produced in the centre can be used in national judicial proceedings if participants agree to do so. They are usually a starting point for further cooperation.

Eurojust's 100th coordination centre

The action day on 18 September 2019 marked an important milestone, being the 100th coordination centre supported through Eurojust since 2011. The action day led to the dismantling of an international criminal network committing massive fraud with pay-TV, causing damages estimated at approximately EUR 6.5 million and jeopardising the existence of many legal providers of pay-TV. This case is an example of how organised crime groups (OCGs) expand their illegal activities to large-scale violations of audiovisual copyright.

The joint actions on 18 September 2019 were the result of complex investigations conducted by prosecutors from Naples and Rome, with the support of the National Desks at Eurojust and with the participation of judicial and police authorities from Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, France and the Netherlands. The coordination through Eurojust resulted in fast execution of various EIOs and freezing orders, ensuring more than 200 servers located in Germany, France and the Netherlands were simultaneously taken down, to disrupt all criminal activities at once. Forensic copies of the seized servers’ contents were made, to ensure they became admissible evidence (e.g. to show that the protected TV content was illegally channelled through the servers) in any subsequent criminal judicial proceedings against the members of the OCG.

100 coordination centres at Eurojust since 2011