25/11/2020 - - Legislation
New EAW decision from the CJEU: interpretation of the term “executing judicial authority”

On 24 November 2020, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) delivered a judgment on case C-510/19

 

On 24 November 2020, the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) delivered a judgment on case C-510/19 following a request for a preliminary ruling submitted by the Belgian authorities concerning the interpretation of Article 6(2) of the EAW Framework Decision.


The preliminary ruling procedure was initiated in relation to ongoing criminal proceedings in Belgium, where an EAW was issued by a Belgian national. Following his surrender to Belgium by the Dutch authorities, the Belgian authorities issued a second EAW for the same person but for acts other than those for which he had been surrendered. In that sense, the Belgian authorities requested the competent Dutch authorities to disapply the rule of speciality. This request was granted by the Dutch Prosecutor’s Office and thus the person was prosecuted and subsequently sentenced for the offences listed in the 2 EAWs.

In this context that the Court of Appeal of Brussels, before which the Belgian national has brought an appeal against his conviction, referred to the CJEU the question of whether the Dutch Public Prosecutor may be considered to be an ‘executing judicial authority’ within the meaning of the Framework Decision. Additionally, the Belgian Court asked if the term ‘executing judicial authority’ constitutes an autonomous concept of EU law.

In its judgment, the CJEU decided that indeed the term ‘executing judicial authority’ is an autonomous concept of EU law and is not restricted to designating judges or courts. In the interpretation of the term, the Court observed and upheld it’s previous jurisprudence from 2019 on the interpretation of ‘issuing judicial authority’.
The CJEU concluded that decision on the execution of the EAW should be taken by a judicial authority that meets the requirements inherent in effective judicial protection, including the guarantee of independence. In addition, the Court found that the execution of an EAW is, just as the issue of an EAW, capable of prejudicing the liberty of the requested person in so far as that execution will lead to his or her detention. Moreover, the Court observed that, unlike the procedure for the issue of an EAW, at the stage of execution of the EAW, there is no dual level of protection for the person subject to the EAW.

The Court concluded that a public prosecutor of a Member State who, although he or she participates in the administration of justice, may receive in exercising his or her decision-making power an instruction in a specific case from the executive, does not meet the conditions to be characterised as an ‘executing judicial authority’. Furthermore, the authority to execute the EAW and to grant disapplication of the speciality principle should be the same authority. The Court found that the Dutch Prosecutor’s Office does not meet the conditions of an ‘executing judicial authority’.

 

The press release of the CJEU could be found here.

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