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Police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters

Within the area of freedom, security and justice, the aim of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters is to ensure a high level of safety for European Union (EU) citizens by preventing and combating crime, racism and xenophobia. It is dealt with in Title V of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Chapters I, IV and V).

EU police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters takes three forms:

  • cooperation between national police forces;
  • cooperation between national administrations (in particular customs services);
  • cooperation between national judicial authorities.

Cooperation is implemented with the help of EU agencies such as the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust), the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) and the European Judicial Network.
Cooperation between the judiciary mainly operates through a mechanism known as mutual recognition of judgments and judicial decisions (e.g. in the area of detention and transfer of prisoners, the European Arrest Warrant, the European Investigation Order, the confiscation and freezing of assets, and financial penalties).

In June 2022, the Council of the European Union adopted a recommendation on operational police cooperation. This sets out a series of standards for operational cooperation between police officers operating in another EU Member State or participating in joint operations. These include:

  • a series of principles for cross-border hot pursuits and surveillance;
  • a list of offences for which cross-border hot pursuit and surveillance should be allowed;
  • a framework for joint operations;
  • the introduction of a support platform for joint patrols and other joint operations, and ensuring effective access to information and communication through secure channels;
  • joint training and professional development with a view to setting up a European police culture.