Eurojust newsletter - Quarter 4 2020

Dear Reader,

Ladislav Hamran

Welcome to this quarterly newsletter, in which you will find a snapshot of the latest developments at Eurojust and links to recent reports, press releases and other interesting materials.

The year 2020 will be forever imprinted in our memories as the year of the pandemic. While the operational support that Eurojust provides to Member States was never interrupted, it logically took some time before we were all used to teleworking and videoconferencing. By October, however, it felt like we had fully come to terms with this new reality - and this shows clearly in the many activities that took place in the final quarter of last year.

On the following pages, we will first share some of our impressive operational results. In early December, for example, we supported the judicial authorities of Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain in their joint effort to arrest 200 suspects of an organised crime group involved in drug trafficking. You will also learn more about some of our key events, including a meeting in early October where EU prosecutors exchanged their first experiences with the judicial Counter-Terrorism Register. Finally, I invite you to take a closer look at some of our new publications, such as the report on Eurojust’s casework involving European Investigation Orders.

I hope you will enjoy reading our newsletter and take this opportunity to wish you a happy, healthy and safe 2021.

Ladislav Hamran
President of Eurojust

In Focus

Successful Eurojust cooperation with German EU Presidency

Eurojust looks back at a very successful and cooperative collaboration with the German Presidency of the EU in the second half of 2020. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the German Presidency achieved concrete results for the Agency. Most notably, the financial situation of Eurojust was secured for the next seven years. In the final days of the Presidency, continuation of the cooperation with the UK in criminal matters was ensured.

During the German Presidency the most difficult discussions on the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021 to 2027 were finalised, thus securing a long-term perspective for the Union and of course for Eurojust. For the next seven years, the Eurojust financial envelope will be increased to EUR 350 million. The 2021 budget however already granted Eurojust EUR 500.000 above the MFF level. In this financial framework, Eurojust will be able to continue to support the dramatically rising number of requests for cross-border judicial cooperation.
Read more »

Mr Ladislav Hamran re-elected as President of Eurojust

Mr Ladislav Hamran has been re-elected as President of Eurojust, the European Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation. National Member for the Slovak Republic at Eurojust, Mr Hamran (47) was elected during today’s virtual meeting of Eurojust’s College for a new term of four years.
Read more »

Mr Boštjan Škrlec elected Vice-President of Eurojust

Mr Boštjan Škrlec, National Member for Slovenia, has today been elected Eurojust Vice-President. Mr Škrlec has been representing the Slovenian judiciary at Eurojust since 2017 and will serve a mandate of four years. Last month, Mr Ladislav Hamran was re-elected President of Eurojust while in November last year Mr Klaus Meyer-Cabri had already been reconfirmed in his role as the other Eurojust Vice-President.
Read more »

Eurojust embraces Commission proposals for digitalisation of justice

Eurojust warmly welcomes the proposals of the European Commission for the further digitalisation of judicial cooperation in criminal matters. The Communication on the Digitalisation of Justice in the EU, presented today by Vice-President for Values and Transparency Vìra Jourová and Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders, addresses several aspects that are crucial for ensuring successful investigations of serious cross-border crime and terrorism in the digital age.
Read more »

Eurojust hosts EuroMed Justice Programme to step up cooperation

To step up the fight against cross-border crime and further enable judicial cooperation of the EU with its South Partner Countries (SPC), Eurojust is hosting the new phase of the EuroMed Justice Programme. By serving as a base for the EU Justice and Home Affairs Agencies (JHAA) and the partner countries Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine1 and Tunisia, it will practically enhance cross-border strategic collaboration in criminal matters and improve capacity building. Eurojust manages the new phase of the EC funded Programme via a dedicated team and assists in working towards a long-term regional cooperation mechanism.
Read more »

Three Eurojust reports selected as Key Publications of EU

Three of Eurojust’s publications got a special place in the spotlight on the EU stage in November: the Eurojust Annual Report 2019, the Genocide Network’s report Cumulative prosecution of foreign terrorist fighters for core international crimes and terrorism-related offences and the factsheet Supporting judicial authorities in the fight against core international crimes were selected for the autumn edition of the ‘Key Publications of the European Union’ catalogue, published by the EU Publications Office in Luxembourg. This biannual catalogue showcases ‘some of the most recent and most popular titles’ of all the EU institutions, agencies and bodies. You can find the whole catalogue here.

Virtual Open Day attracts worldwide attention

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s annual Open Day of Eurojust was organised as an online event. This enabled visitors from all over the world to do a virtual walk through the Eurojust building. Almost 300 participants from 34 countries and of 38 nationalities, from all over Europe and the Middle East, Australia and North and South America, participated.

To take a virtual walk, here.

Casework highlights Q4

More than 200 arrests after drug trafficking network is dismantled with Eurojust support

In an international operation coordinated by Eurojust and led by Swiss authorities, investigators in Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain have disrupted a Nigerian organised crime group (OCG) involved in drug trafficking.
Read more »

Eurojust coordinates action in Italy and ten other countries, taking down over 5.550 computer servers - New major crackdown on fraud with illegal use of pay-TV signals

Eurojust continues to support the crackdown on large-scale piracy and fraud with pay-TV and film streaming, by coordinating an action day at the request of the Italian authorities. Over 5.550 computer servers, which were used to transmit and store television broadcasts, live sports games and films without paying the legitimate copyright holders, have been taken down in Italy, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Lithuania, Malta, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden and The Netherlands. The online streaming services have now been blocked for customers in Italy, who watched the television feed through cheap set-top boxes, paying far below market subscription fees.
Read more »

Coordinated action against illegal online streaming in Switzerland

At the request of the Swiss a uthorities, Eurojust has coordinated an action day against large-scale piracy and copyright infringements via the illegal streaming of television series and films, operating in Switzerland. In total, 11 servers have been taken down in France, Germany, Monaco, The Netherlands and Switzerland, all offering illegal access to films and TV series without the consent of the rights-holders and depriving the legitimate businesses of over EUR 1.9 million. In the operation, three suspects were arrested by the Swiss authorities, the website promoting the illegal service blocked and eight bank accounts in Switzerland seized.
Read more »

#JusticeDone: Eight men guilty in Essex lorry case which led to the deaths of 39 migrants

In a trial in the United Kingdom, four men have been found guilty of being involved in an illegal migrant-smuggling operation which left 39 people dead. They join four more who pleaded guilty before trial. The victims, Vietnamese men and women aged between 15 and 44, were found dead on 22 October 2019 in a lorry container in the town of Grays in Essex. They died of oxygen starvation after being sealed in the airtight container for 11 and 3/4 hours. The international evidence used in the trial was the result of a joint investigation team (JIT) that was quickly set up between Belgium, France, Ireland and the United Kingdom, with the participation of Eurojust and Europol. The Netherlands also provided evidence to the trial.
Read more »

Action against prostitution ring in Romania and France

With the active support of Eurojust, the Romanian and French authorities have taken action against pimping and human trafficking by family related Romanian perpetrators. Following the setting up of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) via Eurojust, an action day was organised, which led to the arrest of tensuspects, seven in Romania and three in France. Two suspects will be subjected to a European Arrest Warrant. Five venues in Romania were searched, where weapons were found. In addition, real estate and vehicles were also seized.
Read more »

Human traffickers swiftly taken to court with support of Eurojust

Thanks to rapid judicial cooperation via Eurojust, nine members of a Romanian Organised Crime Group (OCG) have now formally been charged in Romania and Finland for human trafficking, inciting prostitution and money laundering. The suspects were arrested during an action day in May this year in Romania and Finland, where they allegedly ran a network for the sexual exploitation of around ten female victims, who have been returned to safety. The Romanian and Finnish National Desks at Eurojust enabled the opening of investigations in Finland and assisted in setting up a joint investigation team (JIT), funded by the Agency.
Read more »

At Eurojust

Eurojust College welcomes new National Member for Spain

The College of Eurojust has welcomed Mr José de la Mata Amaya as the new National Member for Spain. In a virtual meeting, Mr de la Mata was formally introduced to his colleagues, after having taken over responsibility for the Spanish National Desk in November. He succeeds Mr Francisco Jiménez-Villarejo, who had headed the Desk since December 2012 before recently returning to his home country.
Read more »

Ms Eleni Kouzoupi new National Member for Cyprus at Eurojust

Ms Eleni Kouzoupi has taken up her duties today as new National Member for Cyprus at Eurojust. Ms Kouzoupi has had an extensive career in European legal affairs and worked for a long time as Justice and Home Affairs Counsellor at the Cypriot Permanent Representation to the EU. She succeeds Ms Katerina Loizou, the National Member for Cyprus since 2005 who has left to take up the post of Cypriot Prosecutor at the European Public Prosecutor’s Office in Luxembourg.
Read more »

Member States call more on Eurojust in terrorism-related cases

EU Member States and third countries increasingly call on Eurojust to coordinate counter-terrorism investigations with a cross-border dimension. The European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation today published the 2019 Eurojust Report on Counter-Terrorism, which shows a steady growth in terrorism-related cases. Last year, the Agency registered 94 new requests of that nature, an increase of 16 percent. Over the same period, it supported eight joint investigation teams (JITs) with a counter-terrorism scope, two of which were newly formed. In 2019, Eurojust also launched the European Judicial Counter-Terrorism Register (CTR), a unique operational tool that provides proactive support to national authorities.
Read more »
Report on Counter-Terrorism »

Rising trend in judicial cooperation with Western Balkans

Judicial cooperation between Eurojust and third states in the Western Balkans is increasing rapidly, and the trend is forecast to rise further in the coming years. Already in the first nine months of this year, more cases involving the region were registered, compared to the full year 2019. Serbia, Albania and North-Macedonia are currently amongst the ten third States most involved in Eurojust casework, and this in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read more »

EASO and UNITAD join Genocide Network at Eurojust

The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (UNITAD) have joined the Genocide Network of prosecutors, which has its secretariat at Eurojust, as associates. Inclusion of both these organisations will strengthen cooperation between prosecutorial and investigative authorities, in particular as regards immigration services at national level in relation to EASO. It will also reinforce the response of national jurisdictions to crimes committed by ISIS via closer partnership with UNITAD.

In view of the joint work of Eurojust and the Genocide Network in the area of cumulative prosecutions of Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) for core international crimes and offences related to terrorism, the report on this work and the Eurojust factsheet have been acclaimed as Key Publications by the EU (please see news item above in this newsletter). The report was also presented to the EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministers on 2 December 2020. Outcome of the discussions is available on the Council website.

Core international crimes committed in Libya were discussed during the 28th Meeting of the Network for investigation and prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes on 5-6 November 2020, via video conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. The meeting conclusions can be found on the Genocide Network page of the new Eurojust website.

Network of experts discusses digital tools for joint investigation teams

How to enable the further digitalisation of investigations was the main focus of the 16th Annual Meeting of National Experts on joint investigation teams (JITs) today. During this online meeting, in their opening remarks Europol Executive Director Ms Catherine De Bolle and Eurojust President Mr Ladislav Hamran addressed the need to move towards a digital era for JITs. The current COVID-19 pandemic clearly demonstrated the evolving need for digitalisation of cross-border judicial cooperation, including JITs.
Read more »

EU Justice and Home Affairs agencies put focus on digitalisation

The EU’s Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) agencies are stepping up their mutual cooperation on digitalisation. On Friday 20 November, the Heads of JHA Agencies came together for a virtual annual meeting, chaired by Eurojust, where they had a first exchange on Artificial Intelligence and digital capacity building, training tools and innovative learning. With the COVID-19 pandemic having served as a catalyst for teleworking and videoconferencing, the agencies agreed to explore avenues for closer cooperation in order to shape the digital future of law enforcement, border management and justice that respects fundamental rights.
Read more »

Workshop to discuss approach on sham marriages

sham marriages

The findings of the recent Eurojust report on sham marriages  were discussed on 27 November 2020 during a workshop organised by the Agency in cooperation with Slovakia and Portugal. Representatives of judiciary instances and national law enforcement exchanged best practices and were presented a case study by Portugal.

Furthermore, the outcome of a questionnaire was discussed and information provided by Eurojust on the setting up and implementation of a joint investigation team (JIT). During the workshop, which was organised via a videoconference hosted by Eurojust, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, Europol presented the latest trends in the modus operandi of migrant smuggling networks.

The workshop was organised within the framework of the operational action plan “BRIDE”, of the EMPACT (European Multidisciplinary Platform against Criminal Threats) Facilitation of Illegal Immigration programme, for which Eurojust is co-leader together with Portugal, Slovakia and Europol.
Read more »
Report on national legislation and Eurojust casework analysis on sham marriages »

Eurojust reports

2019 Eurojust Report on Counter-Terrorism

With the evolution of the security threat and the changing complexity of terrorist attacks and terrorist activities targeting EU Member States, it has become evident that an efficient judicial response to terrorism often reaches beyond a single jurisdiction. To address challenges efficiently, competent national authorities need to cooperate and coordinate among themselves and with relevant EU and international bodies, and share information in a timely and comprehensive manner.
Read more »

Report on national legislation and Eurojust casework analysis on sham marriages

Sometimes people gain unlawful access to the European Union (EU) through a marriage of convenience. Increasingly, such sham marriages are part of sophisticated fraud schemes arranged by Organised Crime Groups (OCGs). The OCGs engage in migrant smuggling and trafficking of human beings on an international scale. They make big profits by luring (mainly) women in vulnerable positions into what seems to be “easy money” but instead traps them in a web of exploitation and abuse.
Read more »

SIRIUS EU Digital Evidence Situation Report

In a context of expanding digitalization of everyday life, electronic data also has an increasingly important role in a wide range of criminal areas. However, when it comes to cross-border data disclosure requests from authorities towards foreign-based Online Service Providers (OSPs), the existing legal framework is often considered not optimal. While policy-making and international negotiations are currently underway, the perspectives of judicial authorities, law enforcement and OSPs themselves can shed light on how data is collected for investigation and prosecution of crime in the EU, and what the main issues are.
Read more »

Report on Eurojust’s casework in the field of the European Investigation Order

The Directive on the European Investigation Order (EIO DIR) was introduced to replace and improve the legal framework of mutual legal assistance (MLA). In many cases, the existence of standard forms (available in all EU languages), the increased role of judicial authorities (as issuing or validating authorities), the limited grounds for refusal and the time limits proved successful and had a positive impact on judicial cooperation. Yet, for the mutual recognition formula to be fully successful, it is crucial that the templates be duly filled in, the grounds for non-recognition be applied correctly and time limits be fully respected. This has not always been the case and, in practice, many practitioners have often struggled with the practical application of this instrument.
Read more »

Joint report of Eurojust and the European Judicial Network on the extradition of EU citizens to third countries

In its 2016 Petruhhin judgment, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) introduced specific obligations for Member States that do not extradite their own nationals and receive an extradition request for the prosecution of an EU citizen who is a national of another Member State and has exercised his right to free movement.
On 4 June 2020, the Council requested that the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) and the European Judicial Network (EJN) analyse how cases of requests for the extradition of EU citizens by third countries are handled in practice, and that they report to the Council by 1 December 2020.
Read more »

Note on Regulation (EU) 2018/1805 on the mutual recognition of freezing orders and confiscation orders

The new Regulation on the Mutual Recognition of Freezing and Confiscation Orders (hereinafter the 'Regulation') shall apply as of 19 December 2020. The Regulation introduces a completely new legal framework in the EU governing the area of judicial cooperation in the field of asset recovery, replacing the legal instruments applicable so far. The new regime brings both significant changes and novelties that might affect the everyday casework of practitioners in the Member States.
Read more »

Looking ahead: what to watch for in Q1 2021

  • Portuguese Presidency of the European Union »
  • Eurojust Annual Report 2020
  • Report Analysis of Drug Trafficking casework of Eurojust
  • Report Analysis of Trafficking in Human Beings casework of Eurojust (covering period from 1 July 2017 – 30 June 2019)
  • Encryption Report (joint report with Europol, the European Commission and the Joint Research Centre)
  • Cybercrime Judicial Monitor 6
  • Report on the Impact of COVID-19 on Eurojust’s Casework (covering cases within a time span of mid-April 2020 – 30.6.2020)
  • Joint Eurojust/European Judicial Network Compilation on the Requirements for Issuing and Executing Judicial Authorities in European Arrest Warrant Proceedings, pursuant to the Court of Justice of the JEU’s Case-Law (update);
  • New calls for JIT funding: JITs funding page »

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