European Investigation Order

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The Directive of the European Parliament and the Council regarding the European Investigation Order in criminal matters ("the EIO") was proposed in April 2010, by a group of seven European Union Member States: Austria, Bulgaria, Belgium, Estonia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. The EIO would replace the existing legal framework applicable to the gathering and transfer of evidence between the member states. It proposed a procedure that would allow an authority in one member state (the "issuing authority") to request specific criminal investigative measures be carried out by an authority in another member state (the "executing authority").

The EIO contained several significant innovations over existing procedures. The EIO focuses on the investigative measure to be executed, rather than on the type of evidence to be gathered. The EIO has a broad scope – all investigative measures are covered, except those explicitly excluded. In principle, the issuing authority decides on the type of investigative measure to be used. However, flexibility is introduced by allowing, in a limited number of cases, the executing authority to decide to have recourse to an investigative measure other than that provided for in the EIO. Clear time limits are provided for the recognition and, with more flexibility, for the execution of the EIO. The proposal also innovates by providing the legal obligation to execute the EIO with the same celerity and priority as for a similar national case. The EIO provides for the use of a form that should be used in all cases.

Compared to the European Evidence Warrant and to Mutual Legal Assistance, the EIO provides for rationalization of the grounds for refusal, and the right of the issuing authority to request that one or several of its officials assist in the execution of the measure in the executing State.[1]

In August 2010 the European Commission issued an opinion on the initiative, warning that it may be a system of evidence sharing without the safeguards provided by common admissibility standards.[2] In its opinion, the European Commission noted the advantages of the proposal – a simpler, unified system  – if the system was backed by the appropriate procedural and fundamental rights standards.[3] At the time of the adoption of the opinion, Viviane Reding, the EU Justice Commissioner said that she would "ensure that the proposal respects the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights."

A general approach on the draft text was reached at the meeting of the Council in December 2011,[4] allowing the Council to negotiate with the European Parliament for the adoption of the measure. The rapporteur in the European Parliament is Nuno Melo [5] of the European People's Party.

Before the approval of the EIO could be considered by the European Parliament and EU Council, it was criticised by Fair Trials International, the Fundamental Rights Agency, Statewatch and some UK parliamentarians, who fear that it will allow increased police surveillance and disproportionate use of investigative powers in trivial matters.[6][7]

The directive was adopted in 2014.[8]

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