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Eurojust and COVID-19

Eurojust and COVID-19

Actions and measures

Effective 12 March 2020, until further notice

The current COVID-19 crisis is a challenge for society and the judiciary across the European Union. Eurojust continues to be fully operational in assisting prosecutors in all Member States, ensuring that cross-border crime is tackled and decisive action is taken against criminals abusing the situation.

Nearly 200 new cases opened in May during COVID-19 crisis

National Members at Eurojust opened 189 new cases in May, ensuring full business continuity during the current coronavirus crisis. Eurojust's monthly caseload shows only a slight decrease compared to the months before the crisis. However, in light of a general drop in criminal activity in Member States due to the lockdown, the current numbers demonstrate the continuous need for combatting serious cross-border crime via Eurojust. In total, 110 cases at Eurojust are COVID-19 related.

Assistance is given to investigations into fraudsters pretending to sell protective materials against the corona virus. Other Eurojust cases concern hackers who, for instance, have encrypted most of the computers of a hospital in the Czech Republic, forcing its temporary closure during the corona emergency. All other types of cross-border crime are followed up as diligently as usual.

Impact of COVID-19 on judicial cooperation in criminal matters

Coordination meetings organised through Eurojust take place via secured video links, and Eurojust’s funding of joint investigation teams remains available.

Since March, Eurojust, in cooperation with the European Judicial Network, has collected information showing the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on judicial cooperation. Given the rapidly evolving situation, the overview is updated on a weekly basis to continuously assist judicial authorities during these challenging times:

  • The vast majority of Member States continue to issue European Arrest Warrants (EAWs) normally. In several Member States, the execution of the actual surrenders is being postponed to the end of the crisis.
  • Some Member States have indicated that the issuing of European Investigation Orders (EIOs) or requests for mutual legal assistance (MLA) continues as usual, while in others the issuing of these instruments has decreased and is subject to prioritisation. In some cases, EIOs are being issued and translated, but their transmission to the executing Member State is affected, suspended or postponed, except when urgent. In many Member States, the execution of EIOs and MLA requests has been restricted to urgent cases and/or postponed.
  • Many Member States have suspended the transfer of sentenced persons. Furthermore, in those Member States where the transfer of sentenced persons is still possible, an assessment is done on a case-by-case basis with urgent cases being prioritised.
  • In many Member States, the situation is unchanged with respect to freezing and confiscation orders while some Member States are prioritising only urgent cases. However, this prioritisation does not usually affect freezing orders as they are generally regarded as urgent due to the risk of dissipation of assets.
  • Joint investigation teams continue to operate regularly in most Member States, with the main difference that travel and physical meetings are not taking place but being replaced by electronic communication.

Click here for full executive summary (12/06/2020)

In line with measures taken by the Dutch government, most Eurojust staff in The Hague are currently working remotely, ensuring a safe working environment during the current crisis. By using trusted communication tools, continuous support is given to requests from Public Prosecutor’s Offices across the EU. The current situation shows the importance of introducing digital tools in the field of criminal justice across all Member States, which Eurojust is actively working on with the European Commission.

Some key stats on 3 months of teleworking

In the period 16 March to 16 June 2020, Eurojust supported over 1000 videoconferences, allowing us to continue providing our valuable services to the Member States.

Since mid-March, we have opened 873 new cases, organised 57 coordination meetings and 3 action days, and funded 78 joint investigation teams.

The EU Day Against Impunity, a plenary meeting of the European Judicial Cybercrime Network and an expert meeting jointly organised with European Union Intellectual Property Office took place virtually.

As chair of the JHA Agencies Network, we initiated a number of joint actions related to COVID-19.

12 recruitment procedures were initiated and 22 new colleagues were welcomed and integrated into the organisation.

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