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European Investigation Order: bad news for EU criminals


27 Feb 2014


Justice & Home Affairs
"This instrument will allow effective prosecution of crime, in particular, cross-border crime, related to terrorism, murder, drug trafficking and corruption. It will also guarantee respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms", said the Portuguese Rapporteur Nuno Melo MEP.
The European Investigation Order (EIO) simplifies the requests for investigative measures by judicial authorities in order to obtain evidence in another EU country. For example, French judicial authorities tracking criminals holed up in Germany could ask their German counterparts to carry out a house search or to interview witnesses there.
These types of requests were already possible, but investigators had to rely on a patchwork of rules, some more than 50 years old, which in many cases lead to unjustified delays and additional burdens.
The EIO cuts red tape by introducing a standard form for requesting investigative measures to obtain evidence. This will provide a faster response whilst ensuring that fundamental rights are fully respected.
Limited grounds for refusing an EIO
There are some grounds where an EIO can be refused, e.g. if it harms essential national security interests or if the measure requested is not authorised by the law of the Member State concerned. It can also be refused if existing rules on limitation of criminal liability relating to freedom of the press would make it impossible to execute it.
Stricter deadlines
Member States have up to 30 days to decide if they accept an EIO request. If accepted, there is a 90-day deadline to conduct the requested investigative measure. Any delay will be reported to the EU country issuing the EIO.
Replacement of the European Evidence Warrant
The European Evidence Warrant (EEW), agreed in December 2008, allowed requests for existing evidence between Member States but it did not foresee the gathering of new evidence. However no EEW was ever issued.  On the other hand, 54,689 European Arrest Warrants were issued between 2005 and 2009, leading to 11,630 suspects being surrendered. The EIO replaces the European Evidence Warrant.
The result of the EIO trialogue negotiations was approved today in plenary with 467 votes in favour, 22 against and 10 abstentions.
The EPP Group is by far the largest political group in the European Parliament with 274 Members from 27 Member States.
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