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Mutual assistance in criminal matters between EU countries

Mutual assistance in criminal matters between EU countries

 

SUMMARY OF:

Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the EU countries

Council Act establishing the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the EU countries

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE CONVENTION AND OF THE ACT?

The convention aims to encourage and facilitate mutual assistance between judicial, police and customs authorities on criminal matters and to improve the speed and efficiency of judicial cooperation. It supplements the 1959 Council of Europe Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and its 1978 Protocol.

The act approves the convention on behalf of the EU.

KEY POINTS

Requests for mutual assistance

  • Requests must be made in writing, transmitted and carried out directly by the national judicial authorities.
  • Requests for temporary transfer or transit of persons held in custody and for sending of notices of information from judicial records must be sent via EU countries’ central authorities.
  • In emergencies, requests may be made via Interpol or any body competent under rules introduced under the Treaty on European Union.
  • The EU country requested to provide mutual assistance (requested country) must comply with the formalities and procedures specified by the EU country which made the request (requesting country) and must carry out the request as soon as possible, taking as full account as possible of the deadlines indicated.
  • EU countries must send procedural documents intended for persons who are in another EU country to them directly by post, but in some cases, the documents may be sent via the competent authorities of the requested country.
  • A judicial authority or a central authority in one EU country may make direct contact with a police or customs authority from another EU country or, in respect of requests for mutual assistance in relation to proceedings, with an administrative authority from another EU country. Countries may refuse to apply this clause or apply it only under certain conditions.
  • EU countries may spontaneously share information regarding criminal offences and administrative infringements whose punishment or handling is the responsibility of the receiving authority.

Specific forms of mutual assistance

  • Stolen objects found in another EU country should be made available to the requesting country so they can be returned to their owners.
  • A person held on the territory of a requesting country may, with the authorities’ agreement, be temporarily transferred to the country in which the investigation is to take place. Where one of the countries requires it, the consent of the person concerned must be given before transfer.
  • The judicial authorities of another country may hear a witness or an expert by videoconference if this is not contrary to the fundamental principles of the requested country, and if all the parties concerned agree.
  • Controlled deliveries* may be permitted on the territory of another EU country in the context of criminal investigations into extraditable offences. The requested country’s authorities must direct and monitor them.
  • Two or more countries may set up a joint investigation team for a specific purpose and for a limited duration on the basis of a joint agreement between them. An official from the country in which the team is operating coordinates and leads its activities.
  • Investigations may also be carried out by officers acting under covert or false identity, provided they comply with the relevant national law and procedures.

Interception of telecommunications

  • Telecommunications may be intercepted if requested by a competent authority from another EU country, which is designated to do so in that EU country.
  • Communications may either be intercepted and transmitted directly to the requesting country or recorded for later transmission.
  • Interception may also take place in an EU country in which earth satellite equipment is located. If the technical assistance of that country is not required, the interception is carried out by the service providers in the requesting country. Where interception takes place in a particular country because of the location of the subject, but no technical assistance is needed, the country carrying out the interception should inform the other country of its action.

Special rules for certain EU countries

Special rules apply to:

  • Ireland and the UK (transmission of requests for assistance);
  • Luxembourg (protection of personal data); and
  • Norway and Iceland (rules linked to Schengen rules and the entry into force of the convention).

FROM WHEN DO THE ACT AND THE CONVENTION APPLY?

The convention entered into force on 23 August 2005.

BACKGROUND

For more information, see:

KEY TERMS

Controlled deliveries: the technique of allowing illicit or suspect consignments of drugs, or substances substituted for them, to pass out of, through or into the territory of one or more countries, with the knowledge and under the supervision of their competent authorities, with a view to identifying persons involved in the commission of offences.

MAIN DOCUMENTS

Convention established by the Council in accordance with Article 34 of the Treaty on European Union, on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union — Council Declaration on Article 10(9) — Declaration by the United Kingdom on Article 20 (OJ C 197, 12.7.2000, pp. 3-23)

Council Act of 29 May 2000 establishing in accordance with Article 34 of the Treaty on European Union the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union (OJ C 197, 12.7.2000, pp. 1-2)

Corrigendum to Council Act of 29 May 2000 establishing in accordance with Article 34 of the Treaty on European Union the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union (OJ C 219, 1.8.2000, p. 6)

RELATED DOCUMENTS

Protocol established by the Council in accordance with Article 34 of the Treaty on European Union to the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union (OJ C 326, 21.11.2001, pp. 2-8)

Communication by the Secretary-General of the European Union under Article 30(2) of the Convention, established by the Council in accordance with Article 34 of the Treaty on European Union, on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union (OJ C 197, 12.7.2000, p. 24)

last update 10.09.2018

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