EUROJUST PRESS RELEASE- Belgian Justice Minister Jo Vandeurzen visits Eurojust

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The Hague, 11 June 2008

On 9 June, Eurojust hosted a visit by HE Mr Jo Vandeurzen, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice for Belgium.

Jo Vandeurzen has served as the Belgian Minister of Justice since 21 December 2007. As a Member of the Belgian Parliament since 1993, he focused on justice and police issues. He was a Member of the Investigation Commission Dutroux, and negotiated for the reform of the Belgian police and judicial systems. From 2004 until 2007 he was President of the Christian Democratic Party.

The Belgian high-level delegation included the Head and members of the Minister’s Cabinet, as well as the Belgian Ambassador to the Netherlands.

BACKGROUND

Following the Council of Tampere in October 1999, Belgium was one of the four countries to introduce the initiative to set up Eurojust on 24 August 2000. Other Member States were Portugal, France and Sweden. During the Belgian Presidency in 2001, Eurojust was given its final structure and shape. The Eurojust Decision, establishing Eurojust as a fully operational European Union body, was issued on 28 February 2002.

During his visit to Eurojust, Minister Vandeurzen met with the President and Vice-Presidents of Eurojust, and afterwards with Ms Michèle Coninsx, Vice-President and National Member for Belgium. Ms Coninsx is also chair of the College team dealing with terrorism cases.

Following this initial meeting, the Minister and his delegation met with National Members of the College. They discussed the aims and work of Eurojust in general. Some National Members elaborated on specific cases, illustrating the added value of Eurojust in combating organised cross-border crime.

Minister Vandeurzen commented afterwards:

“I am delighted that I was given the opportunity to visit Eurojust. I was received in a very professional and agreeable way. The main information that I received was about the added value Eurojust can bring to justice in Belgium. We are a small country, but very open and freely accessible. International relations are paramount for us, especially regarding legal assistance and the execution of rogatory letters – Eurojust can therefore be of great help to us. The future lies in bringing judicial professionals from all Member States together and in solving judicial problems immediately and jointly. This is of great importance regarding safety and security issues in Europe. I offer Eurojust our full support, and even more so when our country will hold the Presidency of the European Union in 2010. The European judicial systems are notably different, when procedures and the roles of the magistrates and investigators are concerned. Eurojust has a relevant perspective, and accelerates the requests for assistance from the Member States and beyond. Today, Eurojust gave me three convincing examples of cases it managed. To me, this proved my initial impression to be right: the added value Eurojust offers on the European judicial level is real.”

The Belgian Desk at Eurojust is composed of Ms Michèle Coninsx, Vice-President and National Member for Belgium, and Ms Mieke De Vlaminck, secretary. In addition, 9 Belgian nationals are working at Eurojust in various occupations.

Afterward the visit, Ms Coninsx commented:

“All my colleagues and I were quite enthusiastic about this much appreciated visit. It is vital that important decision-makers on the JHA level keep abreast of the needs of practitioners in the judicial field. From our experiences, we are able to steer the judicial initiatives in a positive direction, which will in the end facilitate the work of our colleagues in the field of combating international organised serious crime and terrorism in Europe. Today, we face important challenges following the Lisbon Treaty; in that perspective, the visit was excellently timed. As the representative for Belgium, one of the initiators of Eurojust, I can only encourage these high-level visits.”

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