Proposal for a Regulation on European Production and Preservation Orders for electronic evidence in criminal matters

Author (Corporate)
Series Details COM (2018) 225
Publication Date 17/04/2018
Content Type , ,


Legislative initiative - adopted by the European Commission on 17 April 2018 - seeking to improve cross-border gathering of electronic evidence (e-evidence).

Further information:

The use of web-based communication tools have become a commonplace across the world. While their economic and social benefit is significant, they can also be misused as tools to commit or facilitate crimes. When that happens, these services and apps are often the only place where investigators can find leads to determine who committed a crime and obtain evidence that can be used in court.

Given the borderless nature of the internet, such services can be provided from anywhere in the world and do not necessarily require physical infrastructure, a corporate presence or staff in the Member States of the European Union (EU) where the services are offered or in the internal market as a whole. They also do not require a specific location for the storage of data. As a result, authorities across the EU require access to data that might serve as evidence and that is store outside their country and/or by service providers in other Member States or third countries.

Mechanisms for cooperation between countries were developed over the decades. Despite regular reforms, these mechanisms are subject to increasing pressure from the growing need for timely cross-border access to electronic evidence. In response, several countries resorted to expanding their national tools, which resulted in fragmentation. This has generated legal uncertainty and conflicting obligations, and has raised questions as regards the protection of fundamental right and procedural safeguards for persons affected by such requests.

This draft law seeks to adapt cooperation mechanisms to the digital age. It aims to introduce strong protection mechanisms to protect fundamental rights, and to improve legal certainty for all stakeholders. It seeks to maintain a high standard for law enforcement requests, and to speed up the process to secure and obtain e-evidence that is stored and/or held by service providers established in another jurisdiction.

The proposal was tabled by the European Commission on 17 April 2018, as part of a legislative package seeking to strengthen cross-border cooperation tackle serious crime. The Council of the European Union adopted its general approach on 7 December 2018. The plenary of the European Parliament endorsed a negotiating position on 16 December 2020. An informal agreement between the co-legislators on a compromise text for this file was reached on 29 November 2022. This was confirmed by the Council on 25 January 2023.

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Commentary and Analysis
eucrim: News, 29/06/2018: Commission Proposes Legislative Framework for E-Evidence
EPRS: Briefing, July 2018: European production and preservation orders and the appointment of legal representatives for gathering electronic evidence - Initial Appraisal of a European Commission Impact Assessment
eucrim: Journal 1/2020, 03/07/2020: The Proposal on Electronic Evidence in the European Union
EPRS: Briefing, March 2021: Electronic evidence in criminal matters
European Digital Rights (EDRi): Resources, 22/04/2021: E-Evidence: trilogues kick off on safeguards vs. efficiency
European Broadcasting Union (EBU): News, 04/03/2022: eEvidence: the EBU reiterates its support for the European Parliament approach ahead of next Council's meeting
Statewatch: News, 17/03/2022: EU: E-evidence: "the Parliament has moved substantially towards the Council position"
European Broadcasting Union (EBU): News, 05/05/2022: eEvidence proposal: Council must do more to reach a compromise
Statewatch: News, 06/07/2022: EU: End game approaching for e-evidence negotiations, says French Presidency
International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP): News, 11/08/2022: A view from Brussels: The latest on European Commission proposals for children's online safety, electronic evidence

EurActiv, 26/05/2021: e-Evidence: controversy continues in trilogue discussions
EurActiv, 29/06/2022: EU co-legislators agree on ‘key elements’ of electronic evidence package
EurActiv, 23/11/2022: Czech presidency seeks closure for electronic evidence package
EurActiv, 30/11/2022: EU settles rules for accessing electronic evidence across borders

EUR-LEX: SWD(2018)118: Staff Working Document accompanying the Proposal - Impact assessment
EUR-LEX: SWD(2018)119: Staff Working Document accompanying the Proposal - Executive summary of the impact assessment
European Parliament: Legislative Observatory: Procedure File for Proposal on Electronic evidence regulation: European production and preservation orders for electronic evidence in criminal matters (2018/0108(COD))
European Parliament: Legislative Train Schedule: European Production and Preservation Orders for electronic evidence in criminal matters
European Commission: Strategy & Policy: E-evidence - cross-border access to electronic evidence
General Secretariat of the Council: Policies: Better access to e-evidence to fight crime
European Commission: Press Release, 17/04/2018: Security Union: Commission facilitates access to electronic evidence
European Commission: Frequently Asked Questions: New EU rules to obtain electronic evidence (17 April 2018)
Council of the European Union: Press Release, 07/12/2018: Regulation on cross border access to e-evidence : Council agrees its position
Council of the European Union: Press Release, 25/01/2023: Electronic evidence: Council confirms agreement with the European Parliament on new rules to improve cross-border access to e-evidence

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