03-07-2020 - - Partners
Commission Reports on European Arrest Warrant: 56,000 persons surrendered since 2005, Member States need to improve implementation

Commission Reports on European Arrest Warrant

 

On 2 July 2020, the European Commission published a report assessing the transposition of the European arrest warrant in 27 Member States and the UK from 2004 until now. The general assessment demonstrates that the European Arrest Warrant remains an essential tool in the area of judicial cooperation in criminal matters. It has successfully enabled the prosecution of suspects of criminal offences in the EU. The report also shows rather satisfactory level of implementation of the Framework Decision on the European arrest warrant, with almost 7,000 persons surrendered across borders in 2018 according to the latest statistics. However, the assessment of national implementing measures also revealed a number of compliance issues. This concerns in particular additional grounds for refusal and non-observation of time limits. Unless remedied, such deficiencies may limit the effectiveness of the European arrest warrant.

Věra Jourová, Vice-President for Values and Transparency, said: “The European arrest warrant is a success story. It protects citizens by ensuring that criminals are brought to justice across borders. The Commission will continue to work closely with Member States to ensure its full and effective implementation.

Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice, said: “The European arrest warrant is a crucial mechanism to ensure that the free movement of people is not exploited by those seeking to evade justice. Since its launch in 2004, it has been the most used instrument of judicial cooperation in criminal matters across the European Union. It has also contributed to the EU objective of developing and maintaining a European area of freedom, security and justice. This objective cannot be achieved if Member States do not properly implement the instruments they all agreed upon, including the European arrest warrant.

The report further indicates that certain Member States have addressed some of the specific recommendations stemming from the fourth round of mutual evaluations and from previous implementation reports. For example, the lack of a proportionality check of European arrest warrants at issuing stage in some Member States has been remedied.

However, the report also underlines some pending issues that may have slowed down the development of the full efficiency of the European Arrest Warrant until now. The findings show that some Member States have not yet modified their legislation to comply with a series of judgments of the Court of Justice, which aim to clarify the functioning of the European arrest warrant. The number of preliminary references to the Court of Justice on the European arrest warrant has rapidly increased over the last years, from 12 in 2014 to more than 50 by the mid-2020. This is due to the lifting, on 1 December 2014, of the limitations of the judicial control by the Court of Justice in the area of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, as previously laid down in the Maastricht Treaty.

In addition to this report, the European Commission also published key statistics on the EAW for 2018. With 17,471 warrants issued in 2018 in 27 Member States, the figure is close to the figure for 2017 when 17,491 warrants were issued in 28 Member States. In 2018, almost 7,000 requested persons were surrendered across borders. Overall, since 2005, 185,575 European Arrest Warrants were issued and 56,298 of these were executed according to the report. As in previous years, the most commonly identified categories were theft offences and criminal damage (2893 European arrest warrants), fraud and corruption offences (1739) and drug offences (1610). From the arrest to the decision on surrender, it takes on average 16 days when the person consents to their surrender and 45 days when the person does not consent.

 

Next steps
The Commission will continue to assess individual Member States' compliance with the Framework Decision on the European arrest warrant throughout the EU. If necessary, the Commission will not hesitate to take the appropriate measures under Article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to ensure completeness and conformity.

 

Background
The European arrest warrant is the first EU legal instrument concerning cooperation in criminal matters based on the principle of mutual recognition. It allows for faster and simpler surrender procedures between Member States and ended political involvement in extradition procedures, replacing it by an entirely judicial procedure. Moreover, EU countries can no longer refuse to surrender their own citizens to another EU country, if the citizen has committed a serious crime or is suspected of having committed such a crime in another EU country.

The Commission so far issued three reports on the implementation of the Framework Decision on the European arrest warrant. In 2017, the Commission also updated the Handbook on how to issue and execute the European arrest warrant, in order to assist practitioners.

 

For more information

 

European Commission - Press release - 2 July 2020, Brussels

 

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