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Faster, more efficient cross-border criminal investigations in the EU

The European Investigation Order (EIO) directive sets up a comprehensive new system that allows EU countries to obtain evidence in other EU countries, for criminal cases that involve more than one country.


Directive 2014/41/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 April 2014 regarding the European Investigation Order in criminal matters


This directive aims to simplify and speed up cross-border criminal investigations in the EU. It introduces the European Investigation Order, which enables judicial authorities in one EU country (‘the issuing state’) to request that evidence be gathered in and transferred from another EU country (‘the executing state’).

As the EIO is based on the mutual recognition principle, each EU country is obliged in principle to recognise and carry out such a request. It must also be done swiftly and without any further formality.

The EIO makes it easier to tackle criminal offences including crimes such as corruption, drug trafficking and organised crime. For example, Greek police could ask their counterparts in the United Kingdom (1) to conduct house searches or interview witnesses on their behalf.

The EIO improves on existing EU laws covering this field by setting strict deadlines for gathering the evidence requested and by limiting the grounds for refusing such requests. It also reduces paperwork by introducing a single standard form for authorities to request help when seeking evidence.

Keys aspects of EIO

  • A judicial decision issued or validated by an EU country's judicial authority to carry out one or several investigative measures in another EU country in order to obtain evidence in line with this directive.
  • Can also be issued to get evidence that is already held by the responsible authorities of the country that will carry out the request.
  • Can be requested by a suspected or accused person, or by their lawyer, in line with applicable defence rights in an EU country.
  • Must not affect human rights or legal principles, e.g. the right of defence in criminal cases.
  • Covers any investigative measure, apart from setting up a joint investigative team.
  • Can be issued for offences considered criminal or acts/infringements of law that are punishable under an issuing state's national law

90 days to act

After receiving an EIO, the executing state must quickly act on the request. It can only refuse to do so under certain circumstances, e.g. if the request is against the country's fundamental principles of law or harms national security interests. All costs of acting on a request must be paid by the executing state.

The body carrying out the request can choose an alternative investigative measure than an EIO, if it believes this will lead to similar results.

The EIO also allows for:

  • temporary transfer of persons in custody in order to gather evidence;
  • checks on the bank accounts/finances of suspects;
  • covert investigations and intercepting telecommunications;
  • measures to preserve evidence.

This directive applies to all EU countries except Denmark and Ireland, which opted out. It replaces existing EU mutual legal assistance schemes, notably the 2000 EU Mutual Legal Assistance Convention and Framework Decision 2008/978/JHA on the European Evidence Warrant.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2014/41/EU



OJ L 130, 1.5.2014, pp. 1-36.




OJ L 143, 9.6.2015, p. 16-16

last update 10.09.2015

(1) The United Kingdom withdraws from the European Union and becomes a third country (non-EU country) as of 1 February 2020.