On 22 March 2017, the 16th Tool Correspondents meeting of the European Judicial Network took place in The Hague. During this meeting, participants from several Member States gathered under the Presidency of Malta to discuss the current and future projects foreseen for the update and improvement of the EJN website.
First on the agenda was the Compendium, a project finalized since the last Tool Correspondents meeting. This tool was launched in July 2016. The user-friendliness was praised. Several participants were interested in the security aspect; with the EJN site being entirely hosted on a secure protocol this issue has been addressed.
Next up was a presentation on the judicial Library upgrade; the new structure and functionality were presented. The Library is one of the most used tools of the EJN website and it is crucial visitors continue to find the information they are looking for. It was explained that though the development will take place in the coming months, the actual deployment is not foreseen before October 2017, due to the relocation of Eurojust to the new premises in The Hague.
Two new, internally developed applications were shown: the Monitoring tool and the Reporting tool. The Monitoring tool is created for the Tool Correspondents and will assist with ensuring that the information on the website is up-to-date. The tool is still being developed and will be available around June this year. The Reporting tool was launched in January this year and it is used by the EJN Contact Points to register cases they have worked on and activities deployed in their capacity as Contact Point. It will help the EJN Secretariat with collecting global statistics to be used for the EJN Reports.
The European Investigation Order (EIO) is scheduled to come into force on 22 May this year, and considering the impact it will have on judicial cooperation between Member States, it was one of the most vividly discussed topics. As explained by the Secretariat the EIO will affect most tools of the EJN website: the Atlas, the Fiches Belges, the Library and the Compendium. The participants focused on the operational impact of the EIO in their Member States. Participants showed a pragmatic approach during the expected transition period, arguing that during this phase requests coming from countries or going to countries not yet having transposed the EIO Directive, will be processed as classical MLA requests, as long as the criteria for such requests are met.
The Fiches Belges have successfully been revised during 2016 and during the meeting a reflection was made on this tremendous effort. Some examples of well drafted Fiches were presented. The Tool Correspondents were urged to take a pro-active approach when it concerns the Fiches and other sections of the website. The aim should always be to continue to improve the website.
Awareness of the EJN in general and of the EJN website in particular was discussed next. The options of having a brochure on the website and instruction videos on the usage of the site were brought to the table. Especially the instruction videos were received warmly and were considered a modern way to raise awareness. The Secretariat will assess the possibilities of recording and publishing screencasts.
During the discussion on the topic of cooperation with the e-Justice Portal, the participants welcomed the idea of having links between the e-Justice Portal and the EJN website.
During the last part of the meeting the status of the translations on the EJN site were discussed. It was stated that only a small fraction of all content on the website was available in languages other than English. The Secretariat will proceed by sending a proposal to the Tool Correspondents of the areas of the website in most urgent need of translation amendments.
The European Judicial Network is a network of national contact points. The role of the network is to improve, facilitate and speed up international judicial cooperation and ensure the proper execution of mutual legal assistance and mutual recognition requests, as well as to assist in establishing direct contacts between competent judicial authorities.
The role of the EJN Tool Correspondents is to ensure that all information in the EJN website related to his or her Member State is provided and updated in accordance with the EJN Decision (Council Decision 2008/976/JHA, Article 4.5). Moreover, Article 6.2 of the EJN Decision stipulates that the Tool correspondents shall meet on an ad hoc basis, at least once a year.