Frattini pushes to strengthen Eurojust

As Eurojust, the European Union’s Judicial Co-operation Unit, celebrated its fifth birthday, Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini presented his vision of how to strengthen the body’s legal structure. 

Speaking on 17 April 2007, Commission Vice-President Frattini said that Eurojust’s success demonstrated that the “increasing phenomenon of cross-border organised crime, such as trafficking in arms, drugs and human beings, counterfeiting and child pornography can only be efficiently addressed at European level”.  

During Eurojust’s first five years, the caseload increased from 192 cases in 2001 to 771 cases in 2006, indicating that judicial authorities from EU countries are more inclined to refer complex cross-border cases to Eurojust to facilitate and co-ordinate the process of bringing criminals to trial. 

At present, the network of national prosecutors and judges, based in The Hague, assists member states to deal with serious cross-border crime. According to the Commission, cases often include trafficking in arms, drugs and human beings, counterfeiting and child pornography.

Frattini said that an upcoming Commission’s Communication would suggest harmonisation of responsibilities of member states’ representatives to Eurojust, as well as harmonising member states’ powers to improve the quality of information that reaches The Hague.

At present, Eurojust depends largely on EU capitals’ willingness to co-operate with each other. With its caseload expected to rise to 1,000 in 2007, Frattini also indicated that he wanted to explore member states’ attitudes to having a European prosecutor, a figurehead with powers to initiate and proceed with the investigation of a case.

"Eurojust should be made stronger," Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini said. He further indicated adding that he would present his proposals for improving Eurojust's legal structure in the autumn.

"The Communication's message...will be - make better use of joint investigation teams and make Eurojust involved."

Concerning the appointment of a European prosecutor: "It is an idea that needs to be explored," Frattini said.

Eurojust President Michael Kennedy concurred: "Member states should be referring more cases to us," he said.

On 15 and 16 October 1999, the European Council held a special meeting in Tampere, Finland, dedicated to the creation of an area of freedom, security and justice in the European Union by concentrating on establishing immigration and asylum policy based on solidarity and on the re-enforcement of the fight against trans-border crime by consolidating co-operation among authorities.

To reinforce the fight against serious organised crime, the European Council agreed on 28 February 2002 that a unit, Eurojust, should be established composed of national prosecutors, magistrates, or police officers of equivalent competence, detached from each member state according to its legal system.

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