Convention of 29 May 2000 on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union
The Council adopted a Convention to facilitate mutual judicial assistance between the authorities of the Member States (police, customs and courts) in order to improve the speed and efficiency of judicial cooperation. It supplements the 1959 Council of Europe Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, and its 1978 Protocol.
As a general rule, requests for mutual assistance are made in writing, transmitted and executed directly by the judicial authorities with territorial competence. However, certain requests must be sent via the central authorities of Member States (requests for temporary transfer or transit of persons held in custody, and sending of notices of information from judicial records). In emergencies, requests may be made via Interpol or any body competent under provisions introduced pursuant to the Treaty on European Union (EU).
The Member State which is requested to provide mutual assistance (Requested State) must comply with the formalities and procedures specified by the Member State which made the request (Requesting State) and shall execute the request as soon as possible, taking as full account as possible of the procedural deadlines indicated.
A spontaneous exchange of information (i.e. without prior request) may take place between Member States regarding criminal offences and administrative infringements the punishment or handling of which falls within the competence of the receiving authority.
Specific forms of mutual assistance
A witness or an expert may be heard by the judicial authorities of another Member State by videoconference if this is not contrary to the fundamental principles of the requested Member State and if all the parties concerned are in agreement.
Controlled deliveries may be permitted on the territory of another Member State within the framework of criminal investigations into extraditable offences. They are to be directed and monitored by the authorities of the requested Member State.
Two or more Member States may set up a joint investigation team the composition of which is to be set out in a joint agreement between the Member States concerned. The team would be set up for a specific purpose and for a limited period of time. An official from the Member State in which the team is operating would coordinate and lead its activities in the territory of that Member State.
Covert investigations may also be carried out by officers acting under covert or false identity, provided that the national law and procedures of the Member State where the investigations take place are complied with.
The interception of telecommunications may be done at the request of a competent authority from another Member State - a judicial authority or an administrative authority designated for the purpose by the Member State concerned. Communications may either be intercepted and transmitted directly to the requesting Member State or recorded for subsequent transmission. Interception may also take place on the territory of a Member State in which earth satellite equipment is located. In this case, if the technical assistance of that Member State is not required, the interception is carried out by the service providers in the requesting Member State. Where interception takes place on the territory of a particular Member State because of the location of the subject but no technical assistance is needed, the Member State carrying out the interception should inform the other Member State of its action.
The Convention entered into force on 23 August 2005. It has an additional protocol:
- Council Act of 16 October 2001 establishing, in accordance with Article 34 of the Treaty on European Union, the Protocol to the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union, which incorporates measures such as requests for information on bank accounts and banking transactions or requests for the monitoring of banking transactions for the purpose of fighting in particular money laundering and financial crime. The Protocol moreover removes certain grounds for refusal, including banking secrecy, fiscal offences and political offences.
As from 22 May 2017, the Directive for a European Investigation Order will replace the corresponding provisions of the 2000 MLA Convention and its Protocol applicable between the Member States bound by the Directive.
Reference number: 197
Issue date: 29-05-00
Official Journal: OJ C 197, 12.7.2000, pp. 3–23