On 29 June, Eurojust presented its Annual Report 2015 and its work in major crime areas in a press briefing hosted by the Representation of the European Commission in the Netherlands.
Ms Michèle Coninsx, President of Eurojust, together with Mr Han Moraal, National Member for the Netherlands, summarised the challenges faced by Eurojust in 2015, focusing on the fight against terrorism, illegal immigrant smuggling and cybercrime. The journalists had an opportunity to ask questions after the briefing.
Some of the main conclusions on the activities of 2015:
- Eurojust faced unprecedented challenges, particularly relating to the escalating migration crisis and the increased terrorist threats.
- The workload of Eurojust increased by 23 per cent, with 2 214 new cases, and with the major operational focus on combatting illegal immigrant smuggling, cybercrime, terrorism, trafficking in human beings and fraud.
- To coordinate efficiently, Eurojust organised 274 coordination meetings, an increase of almost 40 per cent compared to 2014.
- In 13 per cent of its cases, Eurojust solved issues arising from the execution of European Arrest Warrants.
- Eurojust supported 120 joint investigation teams (JITs), 46 of which were newly set up. For 68 of those JITs, Eurojust provided financial support.
- Eurojust now has 40 contact points in third States. Switzerland is represented in the majority of Eurojust’s cases involving third States.
- In spring 2017, Eurojust will move to its new permanent headquarters in the International Zone of The Hague.
After the 2004 attacks in Madrid, the EU Members States have agreed to extend the scope of information exchange on counter-terrorism and forward to Eurojust all relevant information concerning prosecutions and convictions for terrorist offences.
Since 2006, Eurojust has regularly brought together the national correspondents for terrorism matters of the EU Member States, enabling Eurojust to activate this informal network and assist national authorities within 30 minutes after the Paris attacks.
Since 2008, Eurojust analyses all terrorism-related convictions and publishes them in the Terrorism Convictions Monitor, a document with limited distribution for the use of practitioners.
Cybercrime received a considerable amount of attention from the Dutch EU Presidency.
Cross-border cybercrime is expanding rapidly, so Eurojust is perfectly placed to assist in such cases.
In 2015, Eurojust seconded a National Expert on Cybercrime to EC3 at Europol, who is also building bridges between the national judicial experts on cybercrime of the Member States.
In June 2016, the Conclusions of the Council of the European Union formalised the setting up of the European Judicial Cybercrime Network with support from Eurojust.
Illegal immigrant smuggling
Illegal immigrant smuggling was another topic of great concern under the Dutch EU Presidency.
Illegal immigrant smuggling is per se a cross-border crime. The vast majority of immigrants who come to Europe emigrate for economic or safety reasons. The current situation shows the involvement of organised crime groups situated all along the routes used by immigrants and providing them with a variety of facilitation services in conditions that are incompatible with human dignity. The dismantling of these organised crime groups constitutes a priority for Eurojust.
Eurojust supports the Hotspots in Italy and Greece.
In October 2015, Eurojust signed a Letter of Understanding with EUNAVFOR MED.
Statistics for the Netherlands
The Netherlands is involved in more cross-border cases than one would expect for a small country: criminals seem to find the Netherlands an attractive environment for their activities.
Eurojust’s role is to facilitate the work of the national authorities in the fight against cross-border serious and organised crime. Eurojust is a demand-driven organisation. Eurojust ensures that information gathered can be used as evidence in court.
Next to the operational work, Eurojust works on a strategic and tactical level.
In a coordination meeting, Eurojust coordinates strategically, answering questions such as: Who does what? Should a JIT be set up? Are joint judicial actions needed?
The Rolls-Royce of Eurojust’s operational tools is the coordination centre for simultaneous joint actions (arrests, seizures, searches) in several Member States.
For more basic information on Eurojust, please consult the generic leaflet.
Among the cases that were discussed during the press briefing: see the following press releases: