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The CJEU delivered a new EAW judgment, interpreting Article 23 of the EAW Framework Decision and the concept of  “force majeure” concerning delayed execution of EAW. The preliminary ruling was referred to the CJEU by the Supreme Court of Finland in relation to the execution of 2 EAWs against Romanian nationals for execution of a sentence where the time limit for surrendering the people subject to EAWs  could not be met due to flight restrictions during COVID-19. The surrender was postponed 3 times and in the meantime the 2 Romanian nationals lodged applications for international protection in Finland as well as an action for their release on the grounds of the expired time for surrender as well as their applications for international protection.

The Supreme Court of Finland requested a clarification from the CJEU if the concept of  “force majeure” extends to legal obstacles to surrender a person which arise from legal actions under the national law of the executing EU Member State that  brought by the person. The CJEU replied concluded that such legal actions cannot be considered as force majeure as they are not regarded as unforeseeable circumstances. In this regard, the existence of ongoing legal actions does not the time limits for surrender laid down in Article 23 EAW FD when there is a final decision for the surrender by the executing Member State.

Additionally the referring court asked whether the requirement for intervention on the part of the executing judicial authority is met where it would be the police service of the executing Member State that ascertains whether there is a situation of force majeure and whether if the requirements are not met that would necessitate the release of the subject of the EAW. The CJEU concluded that assessment of possible force majeure cannot be made a responsibility of the police and as such the requirements of Art 23 would not be met and as such the procedure for setting up new surrender date would not be met and the time limits should be regarded as expired.

The official press release from the CJEU could be found here.