1700 suspects arrested by use of European arrest warrant

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The Commission has published its second evaluation report on the state of transposition of the Framework Decision of 13 June 2002 on the European arrest warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States for the years 2005, 2006 and 2007. The report highlights the high rate of recourse to this instrument and identifies Member States’ good practices as well as the difficulties still remaining in the transposition of the European arrest warrant into some national laws.

Vice-President Franco Frattini, the Commission member responsible for justice, freedom and security, expressed his satisfaction in the following terms: “The European arrest warrant is the first practical manifestation of the principle of mutual recognition of judicial decisions. The success enjoyed by this instrument can be seen from the appreciable reduction in the length of procedures for transferring wanted persons, and is measurable in terms of the use made of the instrument by national authorities.” He added: “It is nevertheless important that the shortcomings which remain in the area of the implementation of the Framework Decision be rectified as soon as possible”.

In most countries, one of the most remarkable advances achieved by the European arrest warrant has been the considerable reduction in the length of surrender procedures compared with extradition. On average, where the person concerned does not consent to his or her surrender, a surrender request takes less than six weeks to process. Where the person does consent to his or her surrender, the average surrender period is 11 days, whereas under the old extradition arrangements such requests could take over a year to process.

The instrument’s success is also illustrated by the growing number of European arrest warrants issued in any given year. In 2005 the number of European arrest warrants issued (more than 6 900) was twice as high as in 2004, resulting in the location and arrest of 1 700 people, of whom 1 532 were surrendered.

The constitutional difficulties which arose in Cyprus, Germany and Poland during the transposition of the Framework Decision have all been resolved. They concerned the surrender of persons possessing the nationality of the implementing State. Although the surrender of nationals by those States is still subject to certain conditions, the European arrest warrant is now once more applicable in all 27 Member States.

However, the first evaluation by the Commission of the Framework Decision’s transposition by the Member States revealed a number of shortcomings in implementation by Member States which remain today.