Joint investigation teams

Council Framework Decision 2002/465/JHA on joint investigation teams

It sets out the rules for the setting up and functioning of joint investigation teams (JITs). The rationale is that certain types of crime within the European Union (EU) can be more effectively investigated by JITs set up for a fixed period following an agreement between EU countries.

The framework decision was a response to a meeting of EU countries in 1999 which called for such teams to be set up without delay to combat drug and human trafficking, as well as terrorism.
The Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters adopted in May 2000 provides for the setting up of JITs. However, because of the slow rate of ratification, this framework decision was adopted with implementation to be completed by 1 January 2003. The framework decision will cease to have effect, once the convention has entered into force in all EU countries.

Where a criminal investigation within the EU requires coordinated and concerted action, at least two EU countries may set up a JIT. To that end, the competent authorities of the relevant EU countries enter into an agreement determining the procedures to be followed by the team. The joint team must be set up for:
a specific purpose; and
a limited period (which may be renewed with the agreement of all the parties involved).

The EU countries that set up the team decide on its composition, purpose and duration. The team is led by a person from one of the EU countries in which the investigation is taking place. They may also allow representatives of Europol, Eurojust, OLAF and representatives of non-EU countries to take part in the team’s activities. All members of the team must carry out their duties within the laws of the country in which they are operating.
JITs may also be set up with and between countries outside the EU provided that a legal basis, such as an international agreement or national legislation, exists.

On 1 December 2014, the United Kingdom notified the European Commission that it wished to participate in the framework decision. This was confirmed by Commission Decision 2014/858/EU. On 11 March 2016, Italy notified the Commission that it had incorporated the framework decision in its national law. This means that all EU countries now have an EU legal basis on which to set up joint investigation teams.

It has applied since 20 June 2002. EU countries had to incorporate it into their national law by 1 January 2003.


In July 2005, the network of national experts on joint investigation teams (JITs network) was established to implement the ‘Hague Programme’ and its commitment that each EU country should designate a national expert ‘with a view to encouraging the use of JITs and exchanging experience on best practice’ (Council document 11037/05).

Since 2005, the JITs network has met once each year and since mid-January 2011, the JITs network has a secretariat — hosted by Eurojust — that promotes the activities of the JITs network and supports the national experts in their work. In that view, since 2012, the JITs network secretariat has supported the development of a form designed to assist practitioners in assessing the performance of JITs, including the results achieved, the legal issues and practical difficulties encountered. A first version of the JIT evaluation form was developed and made available to JIT practitioners in April 2014.

The steadily increasing number of joint investigation teams set up every year demonstrates that they are key tools that enable investigations to be coordinated and that they increase mutual trust among EU law enforcement and judicial authorities.


Council Framework Decision 2002/465/JHA of 13 June 2002 on joint investigation teams (OJ L 162, 20.6.2002, pp. 1-3)

Commission Decision 2014/858/EU of 1 December 2014 on the notification by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland of its wish to participate in acts of the Union in the field of police cooperation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters adopted before the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon and which are not part of the Schengen acquis (OJ L 345, 1.12.2014, pp. 6-9)

Cooperation between special intervention units

This Decision aims to improve cooperation between Member States’ special intervention units in man-made crisis situations that present a serious and direct physical threat. The Decision establishes the general rules and conditions for the provision of assistance by these units to any requesting Member State.

Council Decision 2008/617/JHA of 23 June 2008 on the improvement of cooperation between the special intervention units of the Member States of the European Union in crisis situations.

This Decision sets out the general rules and conditions for the cooperation of Member States’ special intervention units* in situations of crisis*. Cooperation is based on the provision of assistance and/or on the carrying out of operations on the territory of the requesting Member State. The details for implementing the practical aspects of the cooperation are settled between the requesting and the requested Member States directly.

The competent authority of a Member State processes the request for assistance from another Member State’s special intervention unit. The request must specify the nature of and the operational necessity for the assistance. The requested Member State’s competent authority may either accept or refuse the request, or propose assistance in another form.

Nature of Assistance

The assistance provided may consist of:

carrying out operations on the requesting Member State’s territory.

When carrying out operations, the requested Member State’s special intervention unit has a supporting role. It is to provide the assistance under the responsibility, authority and direction of the requesting Member State. While the operations fall under the jurisdiction of the requesting Member State, the requested Member State’s officers may act only within the limits of their powers as defined by their national law.

The Member States taking part in this form of cooperation must ensure that experience, expertise and information on managing crisis situations are exchanged. To this end, the special intervention units are to hold meetings and joint trainings and exercises. These may be funded from certain Community financial programmes. Hence, the responsibility for the organisation of these events lies with the Member State holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. All operational costs however, including those of the requested Member State’s special intervention unit, are to be borne by the requesting Member State, unless the cooperating Member States decide otherwise.

An up-to-date list of the Member States’ competent authorities is maintained by the General Secretariat of the Council.


The Council Declaration on Solidarity against Terrorism of 25 March 2004 established the basis for cooperation between Member States in the event of terrorist attacks.

Council Decision 2008/617/JHA complements Council Decision 2008/615/JHA of 23 June 2008 on the stepping up of cross-border cooperation, particularly in combating terrorism and cross-border crime, whose article 18 lays down the obligation for Member States to provide one another assistance in connection with mass gatherings, disasters and serious accidents.

Key terms used in the act

Special intervention unit: any law enforcement unit of a Member State that is specialised in the control of a crisis situation.
Crisis situation: any situation in which the competent authorities of a Member State have reasonable grounds to believe that there is a criminal offence presenting a serious direct physical threat to persons, property, infrastructure or institutions of that Member State.

Competent authority: the national authority that may make requests and give authorisations regarding the deployment of the special intervention units.


Decision 2008/617/JHA


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