EU agrees to streamline cooperation on cross-border crime

Judicial authorities in EU countries will be able to work better together to tackle cross-border crime. Late on Wednesday night, member states reached an agreement with the European Parliament on new rules for the transfer of criminal proceedings.

The fragmented European legal framework makes it very complex for countries to transfer the prosecution of suspects to each other. This can be important when one country is clearly best placed to prosecute a crime, for example in cases of cross-border crime, but also to avoid parallel proceedings.

The rules now agreed by member states and the European Parliament should make such transfers easier, says chief negotiator and MEP Assita Kanko.

Judicial authorities will be able to request the transfer of criminal proceedings on the basis of a list of criteria. For example, based on the harm caused by the crime in a country, if the suspects are citizens or residents of a country, or if the suspects reside in a particular territory.

"Criminals are increasingly part of organised gangs operating on the territory of several member states"

The rights of suspects and victims were also taken into account. Negotiators ensured that suspects cannot be tried for the same acts in different countries ("ne bis in idem") and that prosecution is possible even if extradition of a suspect is refused on the basis of a European arrest warrant.

"Criminals are increasingly part of organised gangs operating on the territory of several member states," said Kanko. "These new rules will ensure harmonisation and better law enforcement to fight crimes such as terrorism, human trafficking, cybercrime, money laundering, drugs and arms trafficking more effectively."

The new rules will come into force in two years' time.



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