On 21 June 2023, the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union hosted the EU-US Ministerial Meeting on Justice and Home Affairs in Stockholm. The European Union was represented by the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, the Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, as well as the Swedish Minister for Justice, Gunnar Strömmer. The incoming Presidency of the Council was represented by the Spanish Minister of Justice, Maria Pilar Llop Cuenca and the Spanish Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska. The United States was represented by Attorney General, Merrick Garland and Secretary for Homeland Security, Alejandro N. Mayorkas.
The meeting was an opportunity to reaffirm the commitment of the European Union and the United States to a strong transatlantic partnership, at a time of major geopolitical challenges.
The United States and the European Union once again condemned Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and reaffirmed their unwavering support for Ukraine. They discussed their intent to deepen their cooperation in assisting Ukraine in the area of justice reform and the rule of law. The United States and the European Union remain committed to provide protection to those who had to flee Ukraine as a result of the Russian aggression.
Specifically, the United States and the European Union reaffirmed their unequivocal commitment to ensure full accountability for the international crimes committed in connection with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, respecting the important role of the International Criminal Court, Ukrainian courts, and other courts. They welcomed the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Department of Justice and the prosecuting authorities of the national members of the Joint Investigation Team on Ukraine, set up with the support of Eurojust, and the upcoming establishment of the International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine, which will benefit from the United States’ support. The United States and the European Union saluted the start of operations of the Core International Crimes Evidence Database at Eurojust and look forward to the database becoming fully operational and to contributing thereto.
The United States and the European Union also intend to continue to take the discussions on international accountability mechanisms forward to ensure effective accountability for the crime of aggression.
The United States and the European Union reiterated their commitment to ensure that Russia pays for all the damages it causes in Ukraine. Relatedly, they welcomed the establishment, within the Council of Europe, of a register of damage for Ukraine.
The United States and the European Union reconfirmed their intent to continue their close cooperation on the full enforcement of sanctions, including by taking action consistent with their respective legal frameworks to freeze and seize, and where appropriate confiscate, assets linked to criminal activities such as sanctions evasion, money laundering, or corruption. They reiterated the importance of cooperating with other international partners, including G7 countries, to avoid any enforcement gap and welcomed the first United States’ transfer of funds seized from Russian oligarchs to aid Ukraine.
The United States and the European Union remain steadfast in their efforts to fully account for holdings of immobilised assets of the Central Bank of Russia in the respective jurisdictions.
The two sides reiterated their commitment to address security threats stemming from the war, including cooperation with Ukraine to reinforce the collective capacities to prevent trafficking of firearms, trafficking in human beings, and critical infrastructure protection, as well as law enforcement cooperation on information exchange and joint operational actions. They highlighted the importance of the support to help strengthen the Republic of Moldova’s security sector in the face of destabilising activities by external actors, and advance the necessary rule of law and justice reforms.
The United States and the European Union expressed strong concern with the rise of violent extremism, based on the rejection of democratic values and motivated by hate, racism, xenophobia and/or related intolerance. They stressed their willingness to work jointly to identify and take effective action in situations in which violent extremist groups cooperate transnationally for the purpose of committing criminal offenses, as well as to address the challenges arising from lone actors acting at their own initiative.
Both sides stressed the need to further address the significant challenges arising from the spread of terrorist and violent extremist content online, including the role of algorithmic amplification. They encouraged companies to take action to prevent misuse of their platforms to promote violence and exploit children.
The United States and the European Union reaffirmed the importance of effective information sharing to combat terrorism. To that end, they plan to continue and build upon the existing pilot project between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Europol addressing security risks associated with terrorist travel. The United States and European Union welcomed the continued sharing by the U.S. Department of Justice of terrorist information, including battlefield evidence, with Europol.
The United States and the European Union discussed the U.S. Enhanced Border Security Partnership and the value of bilateral information sharing under this program. They also expressed their intent to discuss future cooperation at the EU level.
The United States and the European Union welcomed the relaunch of the negotiations for an EU-U.S. agreement facilitating access to electronic evidence in criminal proceedings at the beginning of 2023. This agreement will complement a robust network of existing instruments that have built trust and cumulatively provide a framework for transatlantic cooperation in criminal matters and protection of public safety subject to strong safeguards. In this context they recognized the value of the recently adopted OECD Declaration on Government Access to Personal Data held by Private Sector Entities. They also welcomed the strides taken by the United States and the European Union with respect to transatlantic transfers of data between commercial operators in a manner that satisfies the requirements of their respective legal systems.
The Budapest Convention on Cybercrime and its Second Additional Protocol remain the primary instruments for international cooperation on cybercrime. At the same time, in the context of their close coordination towards a new UN convention on cybercrime, the United States and the European Union support a convention that advances international cooperation to fight cybercrime and respects human rights and the rule of law.
The United States and the European Union recognized the benefits and risks associated with new and emerging online technologies. They discussed the importance of maintaining the ability of judicial and law enforcement agencies to lawfully access data in order to effectively prevent, detect, investigate and prosecute crime, while safeguarding cybersecurity and confidentiality of communications.
The United States and the European Union concurred on the need to enhance joint efforts to prevent and combat child sexual abuse in all its forms, online and offline.
The United States and the European Union remain committed to reinforcing cooperation against cross border organized criminal networks, in particular, those involved in the illicit manufacture and trafficking of cocaine and synthetic drugs, including fentanyl. Both parties resolved to further their exchanges in relation to supply and demand reduction at the EU-U.S. Dialogue on Drugs, and at appropriate multilateral bodies. They jointly endorsed work on a project between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Europol to develop additional intelligence on entities known or suspected of participating in the transnational trade in synthetic drugs. They also welcomed ongoing cooperation between the agencies of the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security and of the EU. The United States and the European Union underlined the need for joint efforts to address synthetic drugs in the context of the Global Coalition. Both expressed hope that the launch event on 7 July would provide avenues for concrete action to address this shared health and security problem.
Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to intensify their cooperation against environmental crime, including working together on cross-border criminal investigations and prosecutions, as well as developing best practices.
The United States and the European Union welcomed the progress made by the three EU Member States not yet in the Visa Waiver Program and reiterated their willingness to pursue efforts in the context of the tripartite process and bilateral discussions. The two sides concurred on the importance of reciprocal visa-free travel under their respective legal frameworks.
Reaffirming their joint commitment to advance together towards common solutions in all these areas, the United States and the European Union decided to meet again in the second half of 2023 in Washington DC.