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Migration and Home Affairs

Crime leaves digital traces that can serve as evidence in court proceedings. Often, it will be the only lead law enforcement authorities and prosecutors can collect. Therefore, effective mechanisms to obtain digital evidence are of the essence.

Policy timeline

The rules are the outcome of a 2-year process resulting from strong calls for action by Member States and industry. It included a thorough impact assessment (see here for its executive summary) analysing the problem, the options and the impacts of the various options, supported by extensive stakeholder consultations.

The key milestones of the process were:

  1. April 2018
    Regulation and Directive facilitating cross-border access to electronic evidence for criminal investigations
  2. August 2017
    Public consultation

    A public consultation is launched to collect views of relevant stakeholders on improving cross-border access to electronic evidence in criminal matters. The results of the public consultation are incorporated in the impact assessment, which is used as the basis to develop the legislative proposals.

  3. July 2017
    Expert consultation process

    The Commission launches an expert consultation process to explore possible solutions and work towards a common EU position. Bi-lateral meetings involved relevant stakeholders, including the private sector, practitioners from EU countries and civil society organisations resulting in a first progress report.

  4. June 2017
    Implementation of the set of practical measures

    At the Justice and Home Affairs Council, Ministers ask the Commission to proceed with the implementation of the set of practical measures and to come forward with concrete legislative proposals.

  5. June 2016
    The Council supports the Commission’s commitment

    The Council supports the Commission’s commitment and calls on the Commission to take concrete actions based on a common EU approach to improve cooperation with service providers, make mutual legal assistance more efficient and to propose solutions to the problems of determining and enforcing jurisdiction in cyberspace.

  6. April 2016
    Communication on delivering on the European Agenda on Security

    To pave the way towards an effective and genuine Security Union, the Commission issues a Communication on delivering on the European Agenda on Security, including legislation to address the problems of obtaining digital evidence in relation to criminal investigations.

  7. April 2015
    European Agenda on Security

    In the European Agenda on Security the Commission commits to addressing the challenges for investigations into cyber-enabled crimes.

In addition to the legislative proposals, the Commission continues to work on the implementation of practical measures, such as supporting cooperation with service providers and US authorities, in particular through capacity building, as well as the establishment of a secure platform for the swift exchange of requests within the EU.

The EU has also funded a number of projects on these and related issues:

  • EVIDENCE project - dedicated to the application of new technologies in the collection, use and transmission of electronic evidence.
  • SIRIUS - an innovative project that includes an interactive knowledge-sharing platform accessible to judicial and law enforcement authorities.