Making progress in the negotiations on the proposed Regulation on electronic evidence in criminal matters and appointing the European Public Prosecutor, among the priorities of Romania’s JHA Council presidency
The Justice Ministry has taken over the presidency of the Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA), Justice Minister Tudorel Toader announced on Facebook, pointing out that appointing the European Public Prosecutor is among Romania’s priorities.
On December 6-7, the Justice Minister took part in the last Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting taking place under Austria’s presidency. On December 7, at the end of the JHA meeting, Tudorel Toader announced that he has officially taken over the presidency of this body, presidency that Romania will exercise starting on 1 January 2019.
“During this meeting, the justice ministers adopted the general approach regarding the proposal for a directive on contracts for the sales of goods, the proposed revision of Brussels IIbis Regulations and the proposal for a regulation on European production and preservation orders on electronic evidence in criminal matters. The agenda also included reports regarding the stage of operationalising the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, the European Commission preparing the negotiation mandates regarding the second additional Protocol to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, and an EU-U.S. agreement on electronic evidence in criminal matters,” Toader informs.
At the same time, the Justice Minister took part in the working lunch of the justice ministers of the Member States, in which the topic of fighting antisemitism via criminal law means was discussed, and met Mrs Vera Jourova, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, as well as his counterparts from Austria, Luxembourg and Croatia.
“Being the last JHA Council [meeting] during the Austrian presidency, Romania’s future presidency of the Council of the EU presented its priorities in the field of justice for the first half of 2019, including: making progress in the negotiations regarding the proposal for a Regulation concerning electronic evidence in criminal matters and obtaining the general approach to the proposed Directive from the same legislative package; finalising the dossier regarding the Brussels IIbis Regulation; appointing the European Public Prosecutor; consolidating mutual recognition in criminal matters,” the minister announced.
The Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council is made up of justice and home affairs ministers from all the EU member states. In general, justice ministers deal with judicial cooperation in both civil and criminal law and fundamental rights, while home affairs ministers are responsible for migration, border management and police cooperation, among other matters. However, not all EU member states have the same division of tasks between ministers. The JHA Council is also responsible for civil protection.
The JHA Council usually meets every three months.
The priorities listed by the Justice Minister are:
- In the field of civil justice
- The general objective is to make the life of citizens and the business environment easier by consolidating mutual recognition and the carrying out of decisions in the field of family law, in civil and commercial matters that have a cross-border impact.
- Improving the legal framework to better protect the higher interests of the child by consolidating the norms of parental responsibility in cross-border cases, as well as the civil aspects of the international kidnapping of minors (Brussels IIbis revision), a priority that aims to reach a political agreement on the overall proposal during the Presidency.
- Deepening legal cooperation in the field of international civil procedural law via the following proposals: the law applicable to the effects that debt assignment has on third parties; modernising the legal framework regarding the servicing of documents and the taking of evidence (revising EC Regulation no.1393/2007 and EC Regulation 1206/2011).
- Against the backdrop of recent developments marked by economic growth in Europe, by the rise in investments and of employment opportunities on the single market, by the prevention of bad loans and the reduction of barriers in the cross-border movement of capital, it is important to guarantee the fact that viable enterprises and entrepreneurs who are in financial difficulty have access to efficient preventive restructuring procedures and are given a second chance, ensuring a balanced approach in order to protect the legitimate interests of creditors, debtors, employees and society in general. In this sense, Romania will support reaching a rapid agreement between co-legislators on the proposal for a directive on restructuring.
- In the field of contract law, the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union will make efforts to go through the final stage of negotiations on the proposal for a directive on sales of goods, as well as on the proposal for a Directive on contracts for the supply of digital content.
- In the field of criminal law
- The two legislative proposals on electronic evidence will represent the main legislative priorities in the field of criminal law during the mandate of the Romanian Presidency, the aim being to obtain the agreement of the two co-legislators before the conclusion of the European Parliament’s session. The Romanian Presidency plans to make as much progress as possible in the negotiations on the proposal for a Regulation on European production and preservation orders on electronic evidence in criminal matters and obtaining the general approach on the proposal for a Directive on establishing a harmonised legal framework for designating legal representatives in order to obtain evidence in legal procedures.
- The full operational launch of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in November 2020, with adequate human and financial resources, demands that several stages be completed in the first half of 2019. For this purpose, the Romanian Presidency of the Council will closely monitor this dossier, aiming to appoint the Public Prosecutor in the spring of 2019 and to set up the EPPO College on schedule. During the Romanian Presidency, the goal is to reach an agreement between the EP and CONS on the person that will be appointed European Public Prosecutor, and to start the procedures for the appointing of European prosecutors.
- One major priority is to consolidate mutual trust between the judiciary authorities of member states, in order to improve the practical application of mutual recognition instruments, especially of Council Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA on the European Arrest Warrant and surrender procedures, and Council Framework Decision 2008/909/JHA on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to judgments in criminal matters imposing custodial sentences or measures involving deprivation of liberty for the purpose of their enforcement in the European Union. The objective is to ensure a fair balance between fundamental rights and mutual recognition, avoiding the impunity of offenders.
- Improving the synergies between the European Judicial Network, the European Network of contact points in respect of persons responsible for genocide, the JIT Network, the European Judicial Cybercrime Network, and between these networks and Eurojust, will be a complementary objective, these being important mechanisms for the consolidation and easing of judicial cooperation in criminal matters.
- Priorities of a horizontal character
- Subsequent to the adoption of the e-Justice Strategy 2019-2023 and of the relevant Action Plan, the Romanian Presidency plans to start concrete actions to put into practice the measures stipulated by the strategic documents, thus supporting the development and promotion of European e-Justice.
- Creating a better framework for the protection of integrity watchers. The Romanian Presidency will make efforts to start and finalise the trialogues in the first half of 2019, during the mandate of the current European Parliament.
- In this context, the list of the most important events that will take place during the Romanian Presidency was presented:
- Ministerial summits:
- The informal summit of JHA ministers: 7-8 February 2019, Bucharest;
- JHA Council: 7-8 March 2019, Brussels;
- JHA Council: 6-7 June 2019, Luxembourg;
- EU-U.S. ministerial summit concerning the JHA: 19 June 2019, Bucharest.
- Criminal law in cyberspace: 26-27 February 2019, Bucharest;
- Current challenges in European prison systems – Preventing radicalisation and reducing prison overcrowding: 1-4 April 2019, Sinaia, Prahova Councy;
- Ordinary summit of the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters: 15-17 May 2019, Bucharest;
- Conference on European Prosecutor’s Office: operationalisation challenges, 27-28 May 2019, Iasi;
- Annual summit of the Legislative Cooperation Network of the Justice Ministries of European Union member states: 21 June 2019, Bucharest;
- 52nd plenary meeting of the European Judicial Network: 26-28 June 2019, Bucharest;
- General Assembly of the European Judicial Training Network: 27-28 June 2019, Bucharest.