Ladislav Hamran, Eurojust President
Despite different hopes and expectations, the year 2021 did not bring the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. Knowing that the key to success lies in one’s ability to adapt, Eurojust continued to navigate the ever-changing health situation with unparalleled professionalism. The results speak for themselves: for the first time in our agency’s history, we supported more than 10 000 cases in one year. Reaching this important milestone under such challenging circumstances fills me with pride, gratitude and confidence in the future.
I feel pride, because behind that number of 10 000 cases are the real stories of fellow citizens in desperate need of justice. They are the men, women and children being smuggled across the Mediterranean Sea in dangerous and unseaworthy boats. They are the hard-working entrepreneurs falling victim to fraud or extortion. They are the young people who need to be shielded from the ruthless tactics of drug trafficking networks. In 2021, Eurojust continued to support the Member States in their fight against these and other forms of cross-border crime; from large-scale emblematic operations such as the EncroChat case to cases smaller in size but not in impact.
I am grateful, first and foremost, for the incredible work of my colleagues at Eurojust. The pandemic has made it very clear that it is people who make the difference, and I am certain that our agency’s achievements in the past year would not have been possible without their talent and dedication. Working from home may have put us at a greater physical distance from one another, but in a way, it also connected us more. Creative solutions emerged to ensure effective cooperation, both within our agency and with our external stakeholders. I take this opportunity to thank Commissioner Reynders and our colleagues at DG JUST, the Council and the European Parliament for their highly valued support. I am also grateful for our strong partnerships with other Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) agencies, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), the European Anti-fraud Office (OLAF) and the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS).
Finally, the past year has given me great confidence in the future of our agency. The resilience and determination we have demonstrated in the most difficult of circumstances will allow us to meet any challenge that still lies ahead of us. In the coming period, we will continue to focus our attention on further digitalising the way European prosecutors and judges work together across borders. Modern IT systems and secure communication channels will enable us to support Member States more effectively, especially when dealing with issues related to electronic evidence and encrypted data. At the same time, we will keep strengthening and expanding our cooperation with third countries, making sure that the fight against organised crime and terrorism evolves from a regional to a global effort.
This annual report will reach you in the year that Eurojust celebrates its 20-year anniversary. The level of judicial cooperation that we have helped to establish in the past two decades is truly unique in the world, and our agency is widely acknowledged as a real European success story. Together with our stakeholders, we will continue to go above and beyond in order to build trust, reinforce partnerships, and make sure that justice is done.