Celebrating 1,700 incarceration orders thanks to the European arrest warrant. Brussels’ second assessment report on this legal instrument calls it: “the first practical mutual recognition of judicial decisions” in the EU. It was used for the handovers of more than 1,700 suspects in 2005. Yet it is still contentious for a court to issue a warrant on a citizen from or living in another EU country.
Michael Kennedy is the president of the Hague-based cooperational body Eurojust: “There are actually problems that strike at the heart of the ‘liberty of individuals’, as it has been described in some of the member states. But these have been overcome. Constitutions have been changed. Judgement of constitutional and supreme courts has been implemented. Legislation has been changed to make things more effective. This has happened in many states, including mine, the United Kingdom.”
Where there is jurisdictional friction over an offence that has a bearing on more than one country, Eurojust can propose a non-binding solution. Integrated trials is one idea, but this seems a long way off, since the European warrant is a conduit between different legal prerogatives but there is no harmonised EU-wide judicial system.
Portugal’s prosecutor at Eurojust, Jose Luis Lopes da Mota says: “If we found a legal base allowing a country to judge crimes outside its territory, we would have a tool to bring trials together.” The European Commission’s report vaunts the frequent use of the common warrant, while also identifying difficulties in transposing it into some national laws. One of the noteworthy advances has been the considerable reduction in extradition times.