56,000 persons surrendered on European arrest warrant since 2005

Since 2005, 185,575 European Arrest Warrants were issued and 56,298 executed, according to a report Thursday assessing the transposition of the European arrest warrant in 27 Member States and the UK. The report shows the European Arrest Warrant as an essential tool in the area of judicial cooperation in criminal matters, which has successfully enabled the prosecution of suspects of criminal offences in the EU.

While there has been a ‘satisfactory level of implementation’ of the Framework Decision on the European arrest warrant, the assessment of national implementing measures revealed a number of compliance issues. This concerns in particular additional grounds for refusal and non-observation of time limits. Unless remedied, the EU executive says such deficiencies may limit the effectiveness of the European arrest warrant. “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,” said Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders: “It has also contributed to the EU objective of developing and maintaining a European area of freedom, security and justice.”

However, he called on EU Member States to properly implement the instruments they agreed upon, including the European arrest warrant. Certain EU 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.

Source: EU Business

Author: Tuula Pohjola