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Making it easier to obtain evidence in criminal matters in the EU

The European Commission has adopted a Green Paper with a view to taking further action to improve cooperation between Member States on obtaining evidence in criminal matters. The Commission considers replacing the currently fragmented legal regime on obtaining evidence in criminal matters by a single instrument based on the principle of mutual recognition covering all types of evidence and introducing common standards with a view to secure its admissibility before the Courts. The Green Paper consults Member States and relevant stakeholders on the validity of this approach and on a number of issues that are relevant in this respect.

Vice-President Jacques Barrot, Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security stated: “Faced with cross-border crime, the administration of justice must not be impeded by differences between the Member States’ judicial systems and the lack of mutual recognition of judicial decisions. In this regard it is particularly important to foster more effective cooperation on obtaining all types of evidence in criminal matters, thus facilitating and accelerating judicial cooperation between Member States.”

The existing rules on obtaining evidence from another Member State consist of a number of co-existing instruments based on different underlying principles and scopes. This makes the application of the rules burdensome and may cause confusion among practitioners and lead to situations where they do not use the most appropriate instrument for the evidence sought. Ultimately, these factors may therefore hinder effective cross-border cooperation.

Moreover, the issue of the admissibility before a court of evidence obtained from another Member State is only addressed indirectly, as there are no common standards for gathering evidence. This creates a risk that the rules on obtaining evidence in criminal matters will only function effectively between Member States with similar national standards for gathering evidence.

In line with the objectives set out in its Communication “An area of freedom, security and justice serving the citizen” of 10 June 2009, the Commission intends to take further action in order to improve cooperation between Member States on obtaining evidence in criminal matters.

The Commission considers replacing the existing legal regime on obtaining evidence in criminal matters by a single instrument based on the principle of mutual recognition and covering all types of evidence. It also considers introducing common standards for gathering evidence in criminal matters.

The objective of the Green Paper is to consult Member States and concerned stakeholders on the validity of this approach and on a number of issues that are relevant in this respect.

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This entry was posted on November 11, 2009 by in News and tagged , , , , .
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