Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Ceisteanna (132)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

132. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the level of Irish involvement in Eurojust; his assessment of the involvement; if the involvement will be continued or altered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37900/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, Eurojust is the EU agency for criminal justice cooperation and its role is to provide assistance to Member States in criminal investigations involving two or more EU Member States. 

I can confirm for the Deputy that Ireland is a member of Eurojust and has been since its inception 17 years ago.  This membership has been valuable - for example in the 4 years up to the end of 2018, the Irish desk at Eurojust has handled 804 cases with an Irish dimension. These have included cases involving serious international fraud, sexual offences and people trafficking.

Transnational challenges require cooperation and transnational approaches and the State's continued membership of Eurojust plays an essential part in allowing Ireland respond in a comprehensive way to such challenges challenges. 

Eurojust currently operates under the provisions of ‘Council Decision of 28 February 2002 setting up Eurojust with a view to reinforcing the fight against serious crime (2002/187/JHA)’, the original Eurojust Regulation.  From 12 December this year, Eurojust will operate under a new Regulation which retains many of the provisions and structures of its predecessor, but also provides a framework for the modernisation of the agency. 

Because the new Regulation comes within Protocol No 21 on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the area of freedom, security and justice, annexed to the TEU and to the TFEU, there is a necessity for the Oireachtas to agree that Ireland should accept the measure. The Oireachtas took the necessary decision to opt in in June this year.

I would add that in practice, Eurojust's primary role is in assisting in clearing difficulties and logjams that arise in multi-national criminal investigations and dealing with mutual legal assistance requests for evidence and surrenders under the European Arrest Warrant.  The location of EU prosecutors under one roof at Eurojust facilitates the rapid exchange of information and addressing of issues of relevance. The agency makes a valuable contribution in this regard.