25th Oct 2016

Brussels seeks more powers for EU crime body

The European Commission wants to strengthen Eurojust, the bloc's judicial body, giving it more powers to fight cross-border crime. It has also indicated that the idea of having a single European prosecutor should be picked up.

"Eurojust should be made stronger," EU justice commissioner Franco Frattini said on Tuesday (17 April), adding that in autumn he would present his vision on ways in which to improve the five-year old body's legal structure.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Currently, the Hague-based network of national prosecutors and judges serves as a helping hand to member states when dealing with serious cross-border crime.

Mr Frattini indicated that the commission's paper would suggest harmonisation of responsibilities of member states' representatives to Eurojust – at the moment they vary widely.

In addition, he wants to harmonise member states' powers, particularly, to improve the quality and information handed over from EU capitals to The Hague.

"The communication's message [to member states] will be - make better use of joint investigation teams and make Eurojust involved," Mr Frattini said.

Currently, Eurojust's team is highly dependent on the EU capitals' goodwill to cooperate.

The commissioner's words were immediately echoed by Eurojust president Michael Kennedy, saying "member states should be referring more cases to us."

This year, Eurojust expects to deal with up to 1,000 criminal cases, as it annually experiences an estimated 30 percent increase in the number of reported cross-border incidents. The cases often include trafficking in arms, drugs and human beings, counterfeiting and child pornography.

According to one Eurojust official, Brussels' attempt to strengthen the judicial body mirrors the ambitions set out in the European constitution, which was rejected in 2005 by France and the Netherlands. The treaty, likely to be revived in some form by the end of this year, sees Eurojust as the key-stone for a single European prosecution office.

Mr Frattini himself said he wanted to find out what the member states' mood for having a European prosecutor was. "It is an idea that needs to be explored", he said.

It is assumed that the European prosecutor would – similar to the US federal prosecutor – have powers to initiate and proceed with the investigation of a case.

But the idea is likely to meet national resistance, with one diplomat telling EUobserver "the problem is that we [the EU] don't have common definitions of crimes, nor do we recognise anything like a federal crime."

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFADraft Bill for a 2nd Scottish Independence Referendum
  2. UNICEFCalls on European Council to Address Plight of Refugee and Migrant Children
  3. ECTAJoin us on 9-10 November in Brussels and Discover the new EU Digital Landscape
  4. Access NowCan you Hear me now? Verizon’s Opportunity to Stand for Global Users
  5. Belgrade Security ForumMeaningful Dialogue Missing Not Only in the Balkans, but Throughout Europe
  6. EASPDJoin the Trip! 20 Years on the Road. Conference & Photo Exhibition on 19-21 October
  7. EuropecheEU Fishing Sector Celebrates Sustainably Sourced Seafood in EU Parliament
  8. World VisionWomen and Girls Urge EU Leadership to Help end Gender-based Violence
  9. Dialogue PlatformIs Jihadism Blind Spot of Western Intellectuals ? Wednesday 26 October
  10. Belgrade Security ForumGet the Latest News and Updates on the Belgrade Security Forum @BelSecForum
  11. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeMaster Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! Conference 21 November - 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  12. EJCEU Parliament's Roadmap for Relations with Iran a Massive Missed Opportunity