Wednesday, October 7, 2020

[EUROJUST Press Release] To step up the fight against cross-border crime and further enable judicial cooperation of the EU with its South Partner Countries (SPC), Eurojust is hosting the new phase of the EuroMed Justice Programme. By serving as a base for the EU Justice and Home Affairs Agencies (JHAA) and the partner countries Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine1 and Tunisia, it will practically enhance cross-border strategic collaboration in criminal matters and improve capacity building. Eurojust manages the new phase of the European Commission funded Programme via a dedicated team and assists in working towards a long-term regional cooperation mechanism.

European Commissioner for Justice Mr Didier Reynders said: "I welcome this new Programme and the next phase of cooperation with our South Partner Countries. It is essential that we continue our good cooperation and see how we can step up the fight against cross-border crime, in the interest of all States concerned. Eurojust is best placed to serve as the link between the Partner Countries and the EU Member States in improving cooperation and information exchange."

Eurojust President Mr Ladislav Hamran stated: ‘‘It’s a great honour for Eurojust to host the EuroMed Justice Programme. Cooperation with countries outside the EU is crucial for success in our mission to fight serious cross-border crime. By joining forces with the South Partner Countries, we will be able to increase our strategic and operational effectiveness. We look forward to a long and successful partnership."

The overall objective of the €5 million Programme, which started up in May of this year, is to contribute to protecting the citizens of EU neighbouring countries against criminal activities, whilst respecting the rule of law and fundamental human rights. More specifically, the programme aims to strengthen strategic cooperation in criminal matters along three major axes: (1) amongst national judicial authorities in SPC; (2) between the authorities of SPC and EU Member States; and (3) with EU judicial cooperation instances.

Previous phases of the EuroMed Justice Programme have already enabled the creation of essential and practical cooperation systems. Tools such as the CrimEx Docs, the Legal and Gaps Analysis, EuroMed Fiches, the Digital Evidence Manual and the practical Handbook on judicial cooperation in criminal matters are "pioneering documents" in the Mediterranean region for cross-regional information exchange. All these documents are available on the EuroMed Justice webpage https://www.euromed-justice.eu/en/publications/1661.

EuroMed Justice builds upon lessons learned and achievements from the previous phases of the Programme. Its ultimate aims are to consolidate the trust existing among the members of the EuroMed Justice Expert Group in Criminal Matters (CrimEx), ensure continuity of the EuroMed Justice Forum of Prosecutors General, update the existing legal analysis and judicial tools and build upon these elements to develop a culture of operational cooperation. EuroMed Justice was designed following a thorough assessment of the needs, activities and tools to be delivered to SPC and EU Member States, according to a demand-driven approach to facilitate the development of activities and streamline implementation, ensuring flexibility is pursued throughout the Programme.


Role of Eurojust

The EuroMed Justice Programme is an important turning point in Eurojust’s history, as it is the first time the Agency hosts and implements a programme outside the EU’s borders. A dedicated team of seven experts will operate from Eurojust in The Hague to roll out the next phase of EuroMed Justice and enable the cooperation.

Ensuring continuity of the EuroMed Justice Process is a priority for the new phase of the Programme. Eurojust has accordingly been mandated to implement this new phase in close cooperation and coordination with all the relevant stakeholders.

It will play a pivotal role in EuroMed Justice by providing a unique cross-regional forum for justice practitioners, in the context of which sustainable coordination and cooperation mechanisms will be built. The special experience and input of Eurojust, the European Judicial Network (EJN) and the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) Network Secretariat will make it possible to explore possibilities and avenues for closer cooperation with SPC.


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