‘TRaining on European Investigation Order’ (TREIO) Project originated from the combined efforts of three projects - EXEC, EVIDENCE2e-CODEX and e-Evidence, working together to build up the secure and trusted infrastructure allowing the exchange of EIO forms and evidences between judicial authorities of the Member States.
e-CODEX, being a content agnostic e-delivery infrastructure that supports cross-border e-Justice services, provides for a secure platform/infrastructure for the digital evidence exchange. The EXEC Project extended and strengthened key components of the e-CODEX infrastructure for the fully electronic exchange of European Investigation Orders and related electronic evidences between Member States. Each participating Member State uses e-CODEX to set up an access point to interconnect with other Member States for exchanging electronic evidences. While e-CODEX operates at international level, on national level the respective national systems are in play along with the e-Evidence Digital Exchange System.
The e-Evidence Project led by the European Commission, DG Justice and Consumers, provides for the e-Evidence Digital Exchange System that manages the European Investigation Order and Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) procedures/instruments (e-Forms, business logic, statistics, log, etc.) on European level. The Reference Implementation Portal is the front-end portal of the e-Evidence Digital Exchange System and is also provided by the EC. The system setup reflects the principle, followed by e-CODEX, that interoperability is achieved through common requirements, leaving to the participants the maximum level of autonomy in supporting those requirements. Relying on the e-Evidence Digital Exchange System, it is possible for the users to prepare the EIO/MLA forms in a digital way and send them as a message, as well as to attach a document to each message.
EVIDENCE2e-CODEX Project provides for the Evidence Exchange Standard Package Application, a web application for creating and/or preparing the evidence packaging and facilitating its exchange through the Reference Implementation Portal over the e-CODEX infrastructure using a language standard for the representation of the information of the evidence package (data and meta data related to an evidence). EVIDENCE2e-CODEX activities resulted in an Action Plan for EU implementation of the ‘true to life’ example to be put in place for the effective use of EIO across EU Member States. The Action Plan was presented and discussed with stakeholders during the joint ‘Digital Cross-Border Cooperation in Criminal Justice’ Conference in January 2020.
An important prerequisite towards the development of the EVIDENCE2e-CODEX technological solution for exchanging digital evidence in a trusted, secure, and admissible manner was the better understanding of the implementation of the EIO Directive in close collaboration with domain stakeholders: judicial authorities (judges, public prosecutors, and investigative judges), court staff including administrative and IT staff, institutional training authorities, lawyers, law enforcement authorities; digital forensic experts and tools’ developers, EU institutions dealing with cross-border cooperation, academia and civil society.
The project team performed an in-depth analysis of the different realities existing across EU identifying the status quo of implementation of the EIO Directive and defining barriers and gaps hampering the full enrolment of EIO. The research was conducted in the June 2018 - March 2019 period across 16 MSs and showed that there were specific needs: to generate the necessary awareness of actors involved by properly disseminating information and knowledge about the procedures and the legal framework in which these procedures would be needed, to create a specific cross-border training for magistrates and court staff to understand, accept and finally promote the EIO forms exchange along the exchange of electronic evidence.
There was lack of standardized training as existing training courses are developed at national level without any overall uniformity or agreement on the training programs.
There was lack of global vision as the training courses are organized mostly only for judicial and not for court or administrative staff.
Topics taught during the trainings were not globally referring to the EIO in general but limited only to some specific aspects.
There was a variety of legal and operational differences across MSs: still unclear interaction between EIO and MLA instruments, missing general obligation for the MSs to officially report on EIO issued and transmitted, unclear competences of the administrative authorities when acting as competent authorities under the EIO Directive, issues with the identification of the competent executing authority, varying language regimes, still primarily manual dealing with EIO/MLA procedures and human-based evidence exchange, problems with exchanging large files of evidence, etc.
The use of the new tool which would be launched by the EC for the electronic exchange of EIO forms and evidence was completely ignored by the Member States at the time.
57% of the respondents showed specific interest in a future training on the e-Evidence Digital Exchange System, 22% were primarily interested in administering EIO forms and applying the relevant procedures and safeguards, 17% focused on the need of more information and training on the technical aspects of the EIO implementations, and the rest – on the business side of the process.
These results served for the basis of the TREIO collaboration and set up its objectives.