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European Arrest Warrant

29 June 2007
by eub2 -- last modified 29 June 2007

The European Union has adopted a Framework Decision on the European arrest warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States. The decision simplifies and speeds up the procedure, given that the whole political and administrative phase is replaced by a judicial mechanism


  • The Council Framework Decision of 13 June 2002 on the European Arrest Warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States (hereinafter the “EAW”) has been implemented by all Member States (including Italy, 21 July 2005).
  • In relation to traditional extradition, the EAW facilitates and speeds up the surrender procedure between the Member States of the European Union.
  • If a person is suspected of a crime in one Member State but is no longer present in that Member State, judicial authorities can demand that the Member State to which the suspect has fled surrenders this person for the purposes of prosecuting him/her in accordance with the provisions of the EAW. A condition for issuing a EAW is that the offence in question is punishable by imprisonment of at least one year under the law of the issuing Member State.
  • The EAW implements the principle of mutual recognition. There is, as a general principle, an obligation for the Member States to execute the EAW and surrender the person.
  • However, the execution of an EAW must be refused on the following grounds:
  1. If the offence in question is covered by an amnesty in the Member State to which the EAW has been sent;
  2. When the requested person has been finally judged by a Member State in respect of the same acts (ne bis in idem); or
  3. Where, under the law of the “executing” Member State, the person, owing to his age, may not be held criminally responsible for the acts in question (age of criminal responsibility).
  • The “executing” Member State may also refuse to execute the EAW in seven other cases, including where the act on which the EAW is based is not a crime under the law of the “executing” Member State (lack of double criminality).
  • However, this double criminality condition does not apply to 32 serious offences, including participation in a criminal organisation, terrorism, and illicit trafficking in weapons, munitions and explosives. The EAW provides that the executing Member State must execute a EAW - and surrender the suspect to the issuing Member State – for these 32 offences, if they are punishable under the laws of the issuing Member State by imprisonment for more than three years.
  • The EAW does not make any exceptions for political offences or for the surrender of a country’s own nationals.
  • The functioning of the EAW is based on direct contacts between local courts in the different Member States.
  • Strict time limits for execution and surrender apply. The final decision on the execution of the EAW must be taken within 60 days after the arrest of the person and within 10 days if the consent by the suspect has been given. These time limits can be extended by a maximum of 30 days at the request of the “executing” Member State.
  • The Member States decide themselves whether an appeal against a decision relating to the execution of a EAW shall be allowed within those time limits.
  • The physical surrender of the person must take place within 10 days after the decision on the execution of the EAW. This time limit can be extended if it cannot be met due to factors outside the control of the two Member States, or due to humanitarian reasons (medical condition of the suspect).

Further details - EU Scadplus

Source: European Commission

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