Life cycle of a case

Eurojust is a hub where national judicial authorities connect, work closely together and ensure solid judicial follow-up throughout the internal security chain, from the very start of the cross-border criminal investigation to the final verdict in court.

A case can be opened at the initiative of a national authority, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) and the Eurojust College. Each case is unique and requires a tailor-made response, ranging from a rapid reaction to coordinated actions, using a range of tools such as coordination meetings, the coordination centre and the formation of joint investigation teams.

Timeline of a Eurojust case

Timeline of a Eurojust case

Click on the image to open a high resolution PDF document

Opening of a case

A Eurojust case may be initiated by:

  • A national judicial authority. Competent authorities in the Member States and in third States that have posted a Liaison Prosecutor to Eurojust can make a request for assistance with their investigations/prosecutions. The request is made via the National Desk of the Member State at Eurojust.

  • EPPO (once operational). Within the limits of its competence, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office can make a request for assistance in its investigations/prosecutions.

  • Own initiative. Eurojust’s College can also act on its own initiative, for example in order to involve Member States that might not initially have been included in the case, and upon discovering links between cases based on the information received from Europol, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), the EPPO and national authorities (on e.g. terrorism information exchange, notifications under Article 21 EJR, etc.).

Types of support

In principle, there are two different ways in which Eurojust manages requests, depending on their urgency: either through a rapid response or through coordinated investigations and prosecutions.

1. Rapid response

If the request requires immediate follow-up, urgent action is discussed and agreed by the parties involved. Swift connections between the National Desks are key. Desks may also draw on the assistance of judicial cooperation advisors in Eurojust’s Casework Unit, including for urgent translations.

2. Coordinated investigations and prosecutions

When the parties discuss the case, they may decide to take further coordinated actions against the individuals or groups suspected of the crime:

  • identification of the key counterparts that need to be involved, including third States if relevant;
  • in close cooperation with Europol, data analysis including cross-matching of data and identifying connections with other investigations;
  • the organisation of case-specific coordination meetings with national authorities (judiciary and law enforcement) to discuss the way forward and prepare the timely use of judicial cooperation instruments including the European Arrest Warrant and the European Investigation Order, mutual legal assistance requests and freezing/confiscation orders. Other key matters include how to prevent conflicts of jurisdiction as well as double jeopardy/ne bis in idem and how to ensure the admissibility of evidence in court in the country where the suspect will be put on trial;
  • the formation of joint investigation teams (JITs), to which Eurojust can provide legal, practical and financial support; and
  • planning of joint action days, which may be steered in real time from the coordination centre at Eurojust, including the simultaneous arrest of suspects, searches of houses and other properties, and the seizure of illicit goods or other assets.

Closure of a case

National authorities move forward with their investigation/prosecutions. Further requests can be transmitted to Eurojust (e.g. support during trial phase).