Eurojust rounds off its 10th anniversary celebrations with a visit from Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands
2012 has been a milestone year for Eurojust in many respects. With internal restructuring, a new President and growth in all areas of the organisation, Eurojust is maturing as an entity and developing greater visibility both within the judicial infrastructure of the European Union and, through the work of its National Members, to a wider public. In this context, Eurojust welcomed the visit of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands to its premises on Maanweg, The Hague.
The royal visit was hosted by Ms Michèle Coninsx, President of Eurojust.
In the lobby, the Queen accompanied by her lady-in-waiting and her aide de camp, was introduced by Ms Coninsx to the Mr Raivo Sepp – Vice President and National Member for Estonia; Mr Carlos Zeyen – Vice President and National Member for Luxembourg, Mr Marc van Erve, National Member for the Netherlands and Mr Klaus Rackwitz, Administrative Director.
The entire staff of Eurojust gathered in the foyer. As the appointed time approached, the loud excited chatter dimmed. As the Queen made her way into the restaurant, staff greeted the Queen with spontaneous applause, which the Queen acknowledged.
Ms Coninsx formally welcomed the Queen to Eurojust in her opening address, stating “before you are more than 200 members of staff; each and every one of them committed to the success of Eurojust in combating organised crime and terrorism”. Ms Coninsx then introduced Eurojust’s longest serving staff member, Mr Hugo Fillet, who had the honour of presenting the Queen with a small bouquet and inviting her to view the memento.
To mark her visit Eurojust commissioned a commemorative crystal artwork, engraved with the Eurojust anniversary logo, accompanied by the following text:
Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands visited Eurojust on
26 September 2012 to mark the occasion of its 10th anniversary
The Queen addressed the staff directly, saying that she was very pleased to be able to fulfil her wish to acknowledge the work of Eurojust, particularly in its tenth anniversary year.
As the Queen took her leave of the staff, once again to the sound of applause, she was escorted by Ms Coninsx to one of Eurojust’s operational meeting rooms, where she met with the National Members and Liaison Prosecutors.
Ms Coninsx opened proceedings by presenting general information on Eurojust and its genesis in 2001 when the organisation “Pro-Eurojust” was created in Brussels. She explained that the events of 9/11 served to accelerate the establishment of Eurojust in 2002. She went on to provide detailed information on two cases dealt with by Eurojust, Operation Koala and the Madrid terrorist bombings.
The National Member for Italy, Mr Francesco Lo Voi, and the National Member for Sweden, Mr Leif Görts, presented examples of further cases managed by Eurojust, illustrating the daily operational work performed by Eurojust.
The Queen was very well informed about the work of Eurojust. She also expressed interest in the differences in legal systems within the European Union and the obstacles faced in ensuring cooperation between national authorities. She asked how Eurojust works to assist in such matters, and received much information on the valuable role of joint investigation teams. The Queen was also familiar with some of the more well-known Eurojust cases, and made enquiries regarding the most recent case in Annecy, France, in which four persons were murdered. The National Member for France, Ms Sylvie Petit-Leclair, was able to brief the Queen on the current status of this case and informed her of the successful JIT agreement which had been negotiated and signed between the authorities of the UK and France.
Turning to current events, Ms Coninsx spoke of the economic crisis and its effect not only on crime, but also on those mandated to combat crime. She stated “we are having to fight more crime with less money”. Ms Coninsx spoke of evolving crime types that were becoming more complex and sophisticated in their modi operandi, such as cybercrime and maritime piracy. She informed the Queen of Eurojust’s newly appointed contact person in this area, Mr Marc van Erve and the very important role the Netherlands is playing in combating maritime piracy generally.
During a short interlude, National Members and Liaison Prosecutors were able to speak informally with the Queen. In addition, Ms Claire Loftus, Prosecutor General of Ireland was introduced. Ms Loftus had been attending a high level meeting of the Board of the Consultative Forum of Prosecutors General and Directors of Public Prosecutions of the EU Member States, hosted by Eurojust on the same day.
Having taken note of the vital work carried out by Eurojust, the Queen paid a visit and was introduced to the Dutch Desk where she was briefed on the work it performs.
After the presentations, Mr Lo Voi commented: “It has been a great honour to take the floor in the presence of the Queen, to illustrate a few operational cases dealt with by Eurojust. I was then particularly impressed by her knowledge of both the positive and challenging aspects of international judicial cooperation in criminal matters and the need to strengthen it inside and outside the EU.”
and Mr Görts stated: “It was a great pleasure to speak to someone showing such interest in our work and more particularly, not afraid to ask questions. It was very gratifying that the Queen showed such appreciation for the efforts of Eurojust in combating organised crime”
Mr Van Erve, after having received the Queen at his desk, said: "I was very pleased that the Queen showed great interest in the work of the Dutch Desk at Eurojust, particularly its role in coordinating the fight against organised crime."
Finally, on her departure the Queen thanked Ms Coninsx for a very interesting visit and expressed how very pleased she was to have had the opportunity to learn more about the work of Eurojust and the people making it happen. She extended her good wishes to the staff of Eurojust for the future.
After the visit, Ms Coninsx commented: “It has truly been an honour and a privilege to meet the Queen and to have the opportunity to introduce her to the staff and acquaint her with our daily work.