For legal practitioners acting as issuing authorities, the major challenge regarding the EIO is to figure out how to correctly fill in the EIO form and all of its annexes. New guidelines prepared by the Council of the EU Working Party on Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters (COPEN) published in January 2020 are focusing on this exact issue.
Guidelines are part of the document titled Guidelines and editable pdf version of the forms annexed to the Directive, 5291/20, COPEN 9, JAI 25, EUROJUST 5, EJN 5 was published in January 2020. It is composed of a short explanatory text and two annexes:
- Explanatory memorandum to the electronic version of the forms annexed to the Directive 2014/41/EU regarding the European investigation order in criminal matters and the guidelines on how to fill in the European investigation form (Annex I)
- Guidelines on how to fill in the European investigation order (EIO) form (Annex II).
While the explanatory memorandum is important for the understanding of the reasoning behind the adoption of new guidelines, for legal practitioners the guidelines themselves are of greater practical importance. Instead of tackling complicated theoretical issues, these guidelines give tips, best practices and recommendations in how to fill out each section of the form, which seems to us as a very useful approach for practitioners.
The biggest issue with these guidelines, which are already available at the EJN website, is the language barrier. They are currently not translated in many EU languages. It is however stated in the Explanatory memorandum that “it is intended to have the electronic version of the forms and the guidelines available in 23 EU languages”. Hence, given a year or two, we anticipate that these will be the most widely used guidelines for practitioners and hope that they will be upgraded in the future to reflect further development of the EIO.
Assist. Jan Stajnko, University of Maribor, Faculty of Law