"We decided to create a high-level contact group, not for bureaucratic purposes but to see how our common values and common principles can be translated into common proposals," Commission Vice-President Franco Frattini told a press conference on 6 November 2006 in Washington, where the initiative was announced.
For US Attorney-General Alberto R. Gonzales, bringing the contact group into being "will allow co-operation between United States’ judiciary and their EU member states’ counterparts, and this will increase our capacity to fight against international crime”.
Gonzales added that such links already exist, with “certain laws allowing the transfer of useful information in the fight against crime”, but the minister would not be drawn on whether certain types of data would be more accessible from now on.
The agreement was signed with Eurojust, the judicial co-operation unit of the European Union, “to foster the exchange of information between law- enforcement communities in the US and the EU and strengthen co-operative efforts to prevent and prosecute organised crime, human trafficking, cybercrime and terrorism”.
"We need a positive spirit of co-operation…and not to concentrate on what divides us," Frattini added. The commissioner has not had the easiest of times in recent months, due to his close involvement with the difficult negotiations on the EU-US air passenger data-transfer controversy.