The 10th Annual Meeting of the National Experts on Joint Investigation Teams (JITs) took place at Eurojust’s premises in The Hague on 25 and 26 June.
Organised by the JITs Network Secretariat in close cooperation with Eurojust and Europol, the meeting, entitled JITS ‘Beyond the EU’: Towards a Greater Use of JITs with Non-EU States, brought together approximately 100 practitioners and key figures to discuss issues of importance in the current functioning of JITs and to look to the future of cooperation with non-EU States. Those attending the meeting included representatives of the Network of National Experts on Joint Investigation Teams (JITs Network); Eurojust; Europol; judicial and law enforcement authorities of the Member States; Council of the European Union; Secretariat of the Council of Europe; European Commission; European Parliament; OLAF; Norway; CEPOL and the European Judicial Training Network; and prosecutors and law enforcement personnel engaged in EU-funded projects in the Balkans.
The meeting allowed a timely assessment of the first ten years of operation of JITs. Additionally, cooperation with non-EU States is increasing, so participants had an opportunity to consider and prepare for the challenges to greater cooperation, emphasizing in particular the need for the JITs Network to contribute to and interact effectively with a number of projects devoted to the development of JITs with the EU’s neighbours.
On the second day, the experts were given an overview of projects of the JITs Network to enable the collection and dissemination of practical and legal information and related experience on JITs.
An update was given on JITs funding provided by Eurojust from its regular budget. New rules were adopted for 2014 allowing for the costs of non-EU States to be covered. In 2014, a total amount of EUR 650 000 is available to fund JITs. Funding covers the cost of travel, accommodation, interpretation and translation and the lending of equipment.
Speaking after the meeting, Ms Michèle Coninsx, President of Eurojust, said: ‘This meeting was a fitting occasion to look back on the achievements of the Network and to consider the challenges of the future. Eurojust always includes countries located outside the EU in its coordination meetings and in the support provided to cross-border investigations and prosecutions. In line with the outcome of this meeting, we will continue to encourage the use of JITs – in particular with non-EU States – and to overcome possible obstacles and shortcomings.’
Mr Vincent Jamin, Head of the JITs Network Secretariat, commented: ‘After ten years of JITs, this meeting could not have been held at a better moment. We took stock of progress the JITs Network is making and addressed new prospects in JIT cooperation with non-EU States: those involved in the success of JITs thus far cannot afford to be complacent. The threat caused by organised crime – which by definition recognises no borders – is a strong incentive for using swift and flexible cooperation tools in cooperation with countries located outside the EU.’
Between January and March 2014, 68 JITs supported by Eurojust’s National Members, nine of which were newly created or referred to Eurojust in 2014
Eurojust funding for JITs*
Between 2010 and 2013, 95 funded JITs established among 22 Member States
JITs funded by Eurojust in 2013: 34
Funding available in 2014: EUR 650 000
Between January and March 2014, 28 JITs established among 15 Member States received funding (out of which 13 are new JITs)
* ‘Supported’ means provided assistance other than financial, while ‘funded’ means financial assistance.
What are JITs? A JIT is a team, consisting of judges, prosecutors and law enforcement authorities, established for a fixed period and a specific purpose by way of a written agreement between the States involved, to carry out criminal investigations in one or more of the involved States.
The JITs Network Secretariat The Network of National Experts on Joint Investigation Teams (JITs Network) was established in 2005. The JITs Network Secretariat, established in 2011, is responsible for the management of Eurojust JITs funding, promotes the activities of the JITs Network and supports the National Experts in their work.