On 11 and 12 December 2014, Eurojust, together with the Italian Presidency and the Office of the Prosecutor General of the Italian Supreme Court, hosted a strategic seminar, Towards greater cooperation in freezing and confiscation of the proceeds of crime: A practitioners’ approach and the 8th meeting of the Consultative Forum of Prosecutors General and Directors of Public Prosecutions of the Member States of the European Union (Consultative Forum).
Both meetings brought together a wide range of experts and high-level representatives of national prosecution authorities as well as representatives from the Council of the EU, the European Parliament and the European Commission.
The goal of the strategic seminar was to encourage judicial practitioners to exchange views on the difficulties encountered in judicial cooperation and the use of existing legal instruments when working on asset recovery cases.
Reflections focused on legal and practical shortcomings and possible solutions leading to progress in effective asset recovery. The seminar explored areas for further practical cooperation and legislative action. Eurojust, using its case-related experience, took an active role in the discussions.
The following topics were discussed in workshops: (1) asset tracing, freezing and confiscation: challenges in mutual recognition and execution; (2) alternatives to conviction-based confiscation: ensuring that crime does not pay; and (3) legal and judicial challenges in asset management and disposal, sharing and repatriation of confiscated assets from a practitioner’s point of view.
During the workshops, participants debated about ways to improve cooperation in asset recovery. The complexity of EU legislation was discussed, the need for consistency and clarity was expressed by the participants, and the knowledge of different legal systems and practices in the EU should be enhanced. It was highlighted that Eurojust plays an important role in this matter, and that practitioners should make further use of Eurojust’s expertise, as appropriate, for smooth and swift cooperation with other Member States.
The Consultative Forum meeting on 12 December was convened by Mr Gianfranco Ciani, Prosecutor General of Italy. The Prosecutors General were presented with the main conclusions reached by practitioners during the strategic seminar and thoroughly debated challenges and solutions in the area of asset recovery, reaching conclusions and addressing proposals to the EU institutions.
The Consultative Forum also focused on challenges encountered when investigating and prosecuting cases of Trafficking in Human Beings and illegal immigrant smuggling involving migration flows by sea. Also on this topic, the Consultative Forum reached some relevant conclusions that will be addressed to the EU institutions.
Finally, the Consultative Forum was informed on the latest state of play of the draft Eurojust and EPPO Regulation and discussed the main features the EPPO should have to be an effective and well-functioning office.
The next strategic seminar and meeting of the Consultative Forum will take place under the Latvian Presidency on 4 and 5 June 2015, and will address conflicts of jurisdiction and transfer of proceedings.
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