Eurojust is a body of the EU located in The Hague, integrated by 28 National desks representing each of them a Member State of the EU, and suported by the Eurojust administration. The National desks are composed of prosecutors, judges or police authorities with equivalent competences nominated by the respective Member State, that are working on a daily basis with home Prosecution services.
Eurojust´s main role is to provide support and assistance to the national authorities of the EU Member States who are conducting investigations and/or prosecutions in cases of serious cross-border crime. Illegal trafficking of cultural goods, including art and antiquities, is expressly included in the scope of competences of Eurojust, which also covers other forms of serious crime as drug trafficking, trafficking of human beings, cybercrime, child pornography, terrorism, money laundering and fraud. This extended scope of action is extremely useful in cases criminal organisations involved in illegal trafficking of cultural goods and other criminal offences (for instance drug trafficking, arms trafficking and/or money laundering) committed in several EU Member States.
In other cases, illegal trafficking involves only two EU Member States but Eurojust support and assistance is requested due to the complexity of the legal framework, the need to take urgent action and other relevant circumstances. Eurojust is also requested for assistance in cases involving third States, where the EU is the final destination or the transit region of cultural objects originated in African, Asian or Middle East. Eurojust has an extensive network of contact points around the world that facilitates the exchange of information and a close cooperation with the respective countries in the framework of ongoing investigations and prosecutions.
In all these situations, Eurojust may assist basically in five different areas:
- First, in the acceleration of the exchange of information among the judicial authorities concerned;
- Second, in the identification of the International and European legal instruments applicable;
- Third, in ensuring compatibility among the legal systems of the Member States involved in the case, especially in order to ensure that the information and evidence gathered in a Member State may be used as evidence in another State;
- Four, in the execution of the requests for mutual legal assistance, freezing and confiscation of criminal assets, arrest warrants and extradition requests, and
- Five, in the organisation of coordination meetings and the setting up of joint investigations teams.
EU legal instrument governing Eurojust:
- Council Decision 2002/187/JHA of 28 February 2002 setting up Eurojust with a view to reinforcing the fight against serious crime (EN), as amended by Council Decision 2003/659/JHA (EN) and by Council Decision 2009/426/JHA of 16 December 2008 on the strengthening of Eurojust (EN)
- See Consolidated version in Council Document 5347/3/08 REV 3 COPEN 9 EUROJUST 3 EJN 2, Brussels, 15 July 2009 – EN
- Confiscation of 12 Art sculptures stolen from Sweden Churches – News and Activities
- About the mission, composition, tasks and competences of Eurojust in general, see GUTIÉRREZ ZARZA, A.: “Eurojust”, in Exchange of information and data protection in cross-border criminal proceedings in Europe, (coord. by the author) Springer edit., 2014, p. 57 y ss.
- As regards illicit trafficking of cultural goods, see (in ES) GUTIÉRREZ ZARZA, A.: “El papel de Eurojust en la lucha contra el tráfico ilegal de bienes culturales”, Minutes of the II Encuentro Profesional contra el Tráfico Ilícito de Bienes Culturales, edit. by the Secretaría General Técnica, Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte, Madrid 2014, p. 46.