PN210704F

EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01

WEDNESDAY 21 JULY 2004

FIGHTING INTERNATIONAL CRIME: LORDS CALL FOR MEMBER STATES TO MAKE BETTER USE OF EUROJUST 

Eurojust, the EU's Judicial Co-operation Unit, makes a crucial contribution to assisting national authorities to investigate cross-border crimes and bring international criminals to justice, according to a report by the House of Lords EU Committee published today. But there is a need for national law enforcement agencies to make more use of it and for closer co-operation between Eurojust and OLAF, the EU's Anti-Fraud Office.

Baroness Harris of Richmond, who chaired the inquiry, said:

"Eurojust is a very new institution, which has already proved its worth in the fight against international crime. But it cannot achieve its full potential unless Member States refer more cases to it and it establishes a more co-operative relationship with other EU agencies with related responsibilities: Europol and particularly OLAF."

The Committee identifies a number of practical measures to increase Eurojust's effectiveness:

  • swift implementation by all Member States of the Eurojust Decision-some have still not implemented it two and a half years after it was agreed

  • the reference of more cases by national prosecutors: the number rose to 300 in 2003, an increase of 50 per cent, but Eurojust has the capacity to handle more

  • concentration by Eurojust on complex and multilateral cases

  • better co-operation with OLAF and Europol: the Committee found that suspicion and antagonism were hampering co-operation, particularly with OLAF

  • early implementation of data protection rules for Eurojust.

The proposed Constitutional Treaty provides for the establishment of the office of a European Public Prosecutor, if agreed unanimously by the Member States, "from Eurojust". More work is needed on what the role of a European Public Prosecutor should be, but the Committee strongly supports the view that, if the post is created, it should build on the work of Eurojust.

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

1. The inquiry was undertaken by Sub-Committee F (Home Affairs) of the European Union Committee. The current Members of the Sub-Committee are:

Lord Avebury

Earl of Caithness

Lord Corbett of Castle Vale

Lord Dubs

Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen

Baroness Harris of Richmond (Chairman)

Earl of Listowel

Viscount Ullswater

Lord Wright of Richmond

2. The report is published by The Stationery Office: Judicial Co-operation in the EU: the role of Eurojust, House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union, 23rd Report, Session 2003-04, HL Paper 138, ISBN 010 400512 2, price £20.00. The full text of the report will be available on the internet via www.parliament.uk shortly after publication.

3. Eurojust, which was set up in 2002, facilitates the work of law enforcement authorities by co-ordinating cases involving several Member States and helping national prosecutors find their way through the complex legal requirements of other Member States. It consists of one judge or prosecutor from each Member State. The President of the "College" is Mike Kennedy, the UK national member.

4. The Committee is also publishing on 21 July a separate report, Strengthening OLAF, the European Anti-Fraud Office, which examines proposals from the Commission designed, among other things, to strengthen OLAF's operational efficiency.

 Further information from:

Tony Rawsthorne

Clerk to the Committee, on 020 7219 6612 ( [email protected])

Requests for reports from:

Jillian Bailey

Press and Publicity Officer (Committees), on 020 7219 8659

[ENDS]