The plenary of the European Parliament approved this Wednesday a resolution that proposes the extension of the crimes that are contemplated in the European arrest warrant. This list would include environmental crimes, some forms of tax evasion, hate crimes, sexual abuse, gender violence, identity theft, crimes involving the use of violence or a serious threat to the public order of the Member States. and crimes against the constitutional integrity of the member states committed through the use of violence, genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The resolution, supported with 444 votes in favor, 139 against and 106 abstentions, assesses the results of the simplified judicial procedure for cross-border surrender that in 2004 replaced the long process of extradition between Member States, on the principle of mutual recognition of decisions judicial. MEPs believe that “in general terms, the European arrest warrant has been a success”, but they see some concrete problems that, without putting the system in question, make it difficult to function properly. Thus, they point to the conditions of detention and imprisonment, proportionality, legal representation in both countries, training, and issues related to the rule of law. They also complain about the lack of reliable and comparable data on the arrest warrants executed and rejected by Member State.
The rejection of a Euroorder should be the exception
The resolution underlines that the European arrest warrant must not be misused for minor offenses, and limited to serious offenses, only after other less intrusive legal instruments, such as the European investigation warrant, have been exhausted. In line with the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the EU, the refusal to execute a Euro order should be an exception, given the very limited reasons provided by the rule.
Limits to the verification of double typification
Mutual trust is a requirement to ensure respect for the principle of mutual recognition, MEPs point out. This can only be achieved “if respect for the fundamental and procedural rights of suspects and accused is guaranteed.”
The verification of the double classification – the process to verify that the action pursued is considered a crime in both countries – limits mutual recognition, warns the text, which asks the Commission to carefully examine the list of 32 categories of crimes that do not they require this verification and that it clarifies as far as possible the crimes concerned. This allows for more automatic surrender, provided the offense carries a maximum prison sentence of at least three years.
“The European arrest warrant is one of the great achievements of the EU in the area of judicial cooperation, a qualitative leap in the fight against impunity. With these proposals, Parliament is trying to address some of its main gaps. We also ask the Commission to ensure the correct application of the rules, in letter and spirit, opening infringement procedures if necessary, ‘said the rapporteur, Javier Zarzalejos (PPE, Spain), during the debate in plenary.