Eurojust, the EU’s judicial cooperation unit, facilitates cross-border investigations and prosecutions of serious crimes in the EU. The changes in the Agency’s functioning and structure, including a new governance model, will make Eurojust more efficient in tackling cross-border crime.

The updated rules also take into account the establishment of the European public prosecutor’s office (EPPO), expected to be operational between 2020 and 2021, as well as the new rules on data protection for EU institutions and agencies. Furthermore, with the revision of the rules, the European Parliament and national parliaments will in future be more involved in evaluating Eurojust’s activities.

MEPs adopted on Thursday updated rules to clarify the role of Eurojust and improve its effectiveness.

European Parliament rapporteur Axel Voss (EPP, DE) explained what the new rules clarifying and streamlining the governance structure of Eurojust mean in practice: “We ensured that while law enforcement remains in the hands of Member States, Eurojust facilitates the cooperation of national prosecutors when requested from national level. Our goal was also to ensure that Member States can have full trust in Eurojust which will in return be provided with the necessary data for investigation. Thanks to improved data protection rules, national authorities can be certain that this sensitive data will not be shared with others without their permission.”

The European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) was set up in 2002 to improve the coordination and cooperation in investigations and prosecutions between the competent authorities in the Member States. It deals with serious cross-border and organised crime such as terrorism, human trafficking, drugs and arms, sexual exploitation of women and children, cybercrime and online child abuse.

In 2017, EU countries requested Eurojust’s assistance in 2550 cases representing a 10.6 % increase from 2016. 849 of these cases were closed during the same year.

The new rules were approved by 515 votes to 64, with 26 abstentions. They have already been agreed upon by the Parliament and Council negotiators in June, but still require the formal approval of the Council.

The regulation will take effect one year after its publication.