Created in 1997, the European Judicial Network (EJN) in criminal matters is a network of Member State contact points, chosen among judicial or other authorities with specific responsibilities in the field of international judicial cooperation.
The aim of the EJN is to improve judicial cooperation between the Member States of the European Union at a legal and practical level in order to combat serious crime, in particular organised crime, corruption, drug trafficking and terrorism.
The principle that inspires the EJN is quite simple: to identify relevant people in every Member State who play a fundamental role in practice in the area of judicial cooperation in criminal matters, with the purpose of creating a network of experts to ensure the proper execution of mutual legal assistance requests. The EJN gains particular significance in the context of the application of the principle of direct contacts between competent judicial authorities.
The EJN is composed of contact points of the Member States, as well as of the European Commission. National contact points are designated by each Member State among central authorities in charge of international judicial cooperation, judicial authorities and other competent authorities with specific responsibilities in the field of international judicial cooperation, both in general and for certain forms of serious crime, such as organised crime, corruption, drug trafficking or terrorism.
Contact points are "active intermediaries" with the task of facilitating judicial cooperation between Member States, particularly in order to combat different forms of serious crime. The Council Decision on the EJN states that contact points will enable local competent authorities to "establish the most appropriate direct contacts".
Other contact point functions are to provide the legal and practical information necessary for the local authorities to prepare an effective request for judicial cooperation, as well as coordinating functions in cases where a series of requests from local judicial authorities in a Member State needs coordinated action in another Member State.
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