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Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 13 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what recent discussions she has had with the European Commission on the future of Eurojust; and if she will make a statement; (204782)

(2) what recent discussions she has had with other EU member states on the future of Eurojust; and if she will make a statement;

(3) what representations she has made to (a) other EU member state governments and (b) EU institutions on the future of Eurojust; and if she will make a statement.

UK officials attended an expert level seminar in Lisbon in October 2007 to debate with officials from other member states and the European Commission the future development of Eurojust. In December 2007, the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council, which I attended, adopted conclusions on the same subject. Subsequently, negotiations have begun on amendments to Eurojust's legal base with a view to improving its operation. This proposal was considered at the April JHA Council, attended by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing, and is on the agenda for the June JHA Council.

The Government are a firm believer in the important role Eurojust plays in the increasingly complex, cross-border nature of serious and organised crime, which can only be fought effectively through improved judicial co-operation and co-ordination of cases across the EU. Eurojust is helping to break down the barriers to effective judicial co-operation by promoting greater understanding and trust between the different legal systems in member states.

The Government have supported the general aim of the draft Council decision to improve the functioning of Eurojust. The Government have, however, argued against attempts to grant autonomous powers to Eurojust to oblige action at a national level in relation to investigations and prosecutions, which could be seen as paving the way towards the establishment of a European Public Prosecutor (EPP).