Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-09-01-Speech-1-063"
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". − Madam President, I should like to make use of my full allocation of speaking time now, if I may. I am pleased to see that the President-in-Office of the Council and the Vice-President of the Commission are here today. The Committee adopted my report on the European Judicial Network unanimously. The cooperation was very constructive and I should like to thank everyone involved, especially Mr Popa, Mrs Gebhardt and Mrs Weber, the rapporteur on Eurojust. The European Judicial Network – or EJN for short – has been in existence for 10 years and has proved its worth in practice. Even after the launch of Eurojust in 2002, the EJN remains relevant. The EJN is not about coordinating investigations; it is about facilitating direct contacts, the proper execution of mutual legal assistance requests and the provision of information. It is important, therefore, to leave the EJN’s decentralised structure untouched. Changes should only be made where necessary, or where such changes arise naturally from the practice applied over recent years. One example is the establishment of national contact points which play a coordinating role within the Member States and are responsible for maintaining contact with the EJN Secretariat. A key innovation is the establishment of a secure telecommunications network. I was delighted to hear that the President-in-Office of the Council has also drawn attention to this issue. Personal data are exchanged between authorities in the Member States, and this can include sensitive data such as fingerprints under a European arrest warrant. In order to ensure secure transmission in this case, a secure telecommunications network is needed for it would be unacceptable for such data to be transmitted by fax, for example. As early as 1998, when the EJN was established, a secure telecommunications network was envisaged, but it has been impossible, so far, to agree on the modalities, apparently on grounds of cost. The report proposes that safe telecommunications be established, initially, for the contact points alone. However, given that the aim is to ensure that, as far as possible, all contacts between the competent authorities take place on a direct basis, a second step envisages integrating all the relevant authorities responsible for legal assistance in their respective Member State into the secure telecommunications network. Due to the sensitivity of the data, the report makes reference to the relevant data protection provisions, and I would emphasise once more, in this context, how important it is to have a strong framework decision on the protection of personal data within the framework of the third pillar. This would apply to the exchange of data between the various contact points of the Member States. Regrettably, the Council has yet to adopt such a framework decision as so basic data protection provisions have been included directly in the legal text itself. The EJN’s functionality largely depends on the contact points. For that reason, guidelines have been drawn up for the selection of contact points based on specific criteria. Persons acting as contact points should certainly have good foreign language skills in at least one other EU language and should have gained experience in international cooperation in criminal matters as well as have served as a judge, public prosecutor or other official in the justice system. It is important that these guidelines are complied with by the Member States and, of course, they must also ensure that the contact points are adequately resourced. In order to improve cooperation between the EJN and Eurojust and achieve better coordination of their activities, members of Eurojust should be able to attend EJN meetings by invitation and vice versa. The Eurojust decision states when the Member States’ judicial authorities – in other words the EJN contact points – must inform Eurojust about specific cases. The present decision supplements this obligation to the effect that the EJN and Eurojust must inform each other on a reciprocal basis about all cases on which they take the view that the other organisation is better able to deal with these. Using this flexible and needs-based rule, the aim is to avoid a situation in which national authorities have to provide overly extensive information to Eurojust and also avoid ‘swamping’ Eurojust with information which the authority simply cannot process. Finally, as regards reporting on the administration and activities of the Network, this should be carried out by the EJN itself, not only to Council and the Commission but also to Parliament. I am pleased that this approach is expressly supported by the Commission. With the present decision, the European Judicial Network will be adapted to the developments that have taken place over recent years, and its relationship to Eurojust defined in more precise terms. As a result, the European Judicial Network will be better able to fulfil its remit in the field of judicial cooperation in criminal matters, especially in the event that the Lisbon Treaty does come into force, with the ensuing communitisation of judicial cooperation in criminal matters."@en1
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