Agreements on cooperation

Agreements on cooperation enable Eurojust to consolidate its partnerships with third countries and international organisations, bringing them and Member States closer together in the fight against serious cross-border crime. Stronger ties between judicial actors inside and outside the EU make life more difficult for organised crime groups (OCGs), terrorists and other criminals operating across borders, by aligning working practices and strategies and strengthening judicial cooperation and mutual trust.

Agreements on cooperation provide the possibility of exchanging operational information, including evidence and personal data, between Eurojust and the national authorities of the countries involved, as well as international organisations, in a systematic way.

The Eurojust Regulation, which became applicable in December 2019, transformed Eurojust’s external relations policy. The Agency now works closely with the European Commission to develop four-year strategies (see tab below) to enhance its international reach at operational level. These strategies specify the third countries and international organisations with which there is an operational need for cooperation. At the Commission’s recommendation, international agreements for cooperation with Eurojust will be concluded by the Council of the EU pursuant to Article 218 TFEU. Under the previous legal framework, Eurojust concluded cooperation agreements with third countries directly.

Adequacy decisions

Eurojust may also transfer operational personal data to a third country or to an international organisation where the Commission has decided in accordance with Article 36 of Directive (EU) 2016/680 that an adequate level of protection is ensured by the third country, a territory or one or more specified sectors within that third country, or the international organisation in question.

A working arrangement may be concluded between Eurojust and the country or organisation concerned to further implement an adequacy decision.

In the absence of an adequacy decision, operational personal data could be transferred if appropriate safeguards exist or have been provided for, or if a derogation for specific situations applies.

Cooperation agreements

Eurojust has concluded agreements with 12 third countries, including four countries in the Western Balkans (Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia) and Georgia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Norway, Switzerland, Ukraine and the USA. These agreements create an enabling environment in which third countries can participate in and benefit from the practical cooperation tools offered through Eurojust.

These agreements also give national authorities in third countries the opportunity to post Liaison Prosecutors at Eurojust’s headquarters to work side by side with their colleagues from Member States, with access to Eurojust’s operational tools.

Four-year strategy 2020-2023

Under Article 52 of the Eurojust Regulation, every four years Eurojust prepares, in consultation with the European Commission, a cooperation strategy that specifies the third countries and international organisations with which there is an operational need for cooperation.

In November 2019 the College adopted the first such strategy for 2020-2023. The strategy includes a list of third countries and international organisations that was developed using the following four criteria:

  • Eurojust’s earlier priorities in relation to third countries;
  • Eurojust’s casework involving third countries;
  • Eurojust’s operational needs identified by national authorities;
  • Ongoing negotiations for international agreements on cooperation with Europol.

The strategy outlined the third countries with which there is a pressing need for operational cooperation, namely Algeria, Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey.

Eurojust also identified the following international organisations for possible operational cooperation: the ICC; the ICPO-Interpol; the Iber-RED; the Office of the Prosecutor of the IIIM regarding crimes committed in Syria; the UNITAD; and Ameripol, once it acquires legal personality.

Based on this list, the Commission submitted to the Council of the EU its Recommendation for a Decision authorising the opening of negotiations for agreements on cooperation with Eurojust between the European Union and ten third States, namely: Algeria, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey. Following this Recommendation, on 1 March 2021 the Council adopted its Decision authorising the opening of negotiations with the States recommended by the Commission, to which it added three more, namely Argentina, Brazil and Colombia.