Editorial 11 October 2023
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This contribution is a comparison of the solution adopted in the European Union (EU) concerning cross-border access to electronic evidence and the Swiss law applicable in this area, based on a number of key features of the European system. It gives rise to a reflection on the prospects for relations between the European Union and Switzerland, in particular the opportunity for Switzerland to coordinate its rules with those of European law.Read more
A New Try for European Minimum Rules in Criminal Proceedings?
This article seeks to provide arguments in support of legislative action on mutual admissibility of evidence and electronic evidence in criminal proceedings at the EU level. To this end, it will first describe the status quo and then the main features of a corresponding proposal recently tabled by the European Law Institute. In the light of this proposal, the author explains why Member States should reconsider their traditional stance against any EU initiative on evidentiary rules in criminal proceedings. Ultimately, especially in this new digital era, the best solution to prevent the inadmissibility of cross-border evidence is to adopt a set of minimum rules.Read more
Exploring an Under-the-Radar Area
The intense debate over the past few years on access to data for criminal investigations has led to the adoption of the E-evidence package. Yet, electronic evidence is no less crucial for punitive administrative proceedings. One administrative investigation authority that could benefit from more extensive access to electronic evidence is OLAF, which, at this point, does not seem to have the power to request data from service providers. Such powers could be essential, however, for the detection and investigation of fraud or corruption. This article argues the need for a general and thorough reflection on access to electronic evidence from Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in administrative punitive proceedings. It also discusses the transfer of this type of evidence between administrative and criminal proceedings (in both directions) in order to more specifically justify an extension of OLAF’s powers to be able to request such evidence.Read more
An Introduction to the New EU Package on E-evidence
Digital technologies have advanced more rapidly than any other innovation in modern history and they permeate our daily lives. The benefits to our societies and economies are numerous, but the risks of cyberattacks and crime have also increased. The EU is committed to protecting its citizens against these risks in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice. Prevention, detection, and enforcement form key components of the EU’s security architecture. Making use of the benefits of digital technologies and ensuring a high level of security across the Union were driving forces behind the latest building block in this architecture: the e-evidence package. Recently adopted, it aims to ensure that judicial and law enforcement authorities can obtain electronic evidence across the EU and beyond in a swift and legally sound manner for the purpose of investigations and prosecutions in criminal cases.
This article provides an introduction to the two new EU instruments: … Read more
The Happy Ending of a Long Negotiation Saga
The following article gives an overview of the long internal negotiations on the EU legal instruments aiming at improving cross-border access to e-evidence in judicial proceedings (the so-called e-evidence package), which have finally been concluded. It outlines the main challenges met during the negotiations and how they were overcome to reach a compromise which has become subject to political agreement. This compromise is expected to prove more useful from a practical point of view than previous, more general cooperation tools. In addition, the article puts the EU’s legislative initiative into the context of legal instruments and negotiations on law enforcement access to e-evidence at the international level before turning to expected future developments.Read more
Explanatory Remarks on the Rules on Compensation and Confiscation in the EPPO Regulation
How can the European Union be efficiently compensated for damage inflicted by criminal offences affecting its financial interests? The EU’s legislative framework, in particular the EPPO Regulation, states that EU Member States must take the necessary steps to confiscate, for the benefit of the Union, the proceeds of such criminal offences and to compensate for the damage caused by them. Given the binding force of the Regulation, these are even positive legal obligations for the Member States. According to the author, a minor adjustment in supranational and Member State legislation would suffice to achieve these objectives in a more efficient manner. He proposes, inter alia, including the proceeds of confiscation in the traditional own resources of the Union’s budget. He also examines how Belgian legislation could be adapted such that the Union is effectively compensated for the damage it suffers from criminal offences affecting its financial interests.Read more