Digitalisation, inclusive justice and the fight against counterfeiting

Source: Portuguese presidency of the EU i, published on Saturday, January 30 2021.

Minister of Justice Francisca Van Dunem chaired the informal video conference of European Union (EU) Justice Ministers. Also taking part in the meeting were European Commissioners Didier Reynders i (Justice) and Ylva Johansson i (Home Affairs).

At a press conference, the Minister of Justice highlighted the urgent need to “move forward with the protection of vulnerable adults, particularly through the ratification of the 2020 Hague Convention on the protection of adults”. Along the same lines, Commissioner Didier Reynders explained the importance of discussing this issue in the midst of a public health crisis, precisely because “it disproportionately affects older and more vulnerable people”, recalling that in 2019, more than 20% of the population of the EU was aged over 65.

Medicrime Convention and the fight against counterfeiting

The debate, which Europol and Eurojust also took part in, identified a set of problems associated with organised crime, particularly on the issue of the counterfeiting of medicine and protective equipment, as well as in terms of security in a wide variety of areas.

On this point, Francisca van Dunem stated that “countries must advance towards the approval and ratification of the Council of Europe's Medicrime Convention”. This convention makes it a criminal offence to sell medicine outside of the legal framework, as well as counterfeit medicine, medical products and pharmaceuticals.

With over eight tonnes of counterfeit medical material having been seized during this pandemic, Commissioner Didier Reynders underlined the importance of cross-border cooperation and, on this subject, the European Commission has also appealed for the ratification of the Medicrime Convention by all EU Member States.

Digitalisation in the Justice area

Francisca Van Dunem highlighted the work the European Commission has already done towards the digital transition in the Justice area. The Member States unanimously agreed that it is necessary to “seize this opportunity opened up from a financial standpoint by the recovery and resilience plans” to leverage the digital transition in the Justice area as well.

In this context, and in order to ensure the interoperability of European justice information systems, the use of e-CODEX will be promoted. This is a system introduced by the European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems in the area of freedom, security and justice (EU-LISA), also taking part in the meeting. In this context, Didier Reynders appealed to the 27 Justice Ministers to prioritise the digitalisation of Justice in their national recovery plans.