Will leaving the EU mean the end of the EAW? European Arrest Warrant

EAW – What is this?

The European Arrest Warrant is arguably the most important legal device developed in the area of mutual recognition of judicial decisions in Europe and currently represents one of the most effective methods of judicial cooperation. The EAW consists in a simple and quick surrendering procedure that has replaced extradition among Member States. In other words, a person who has committed a serious crime in an EU country but lives in another Member State can be returned to the first one to face justice quickly and with little administrative burden. – What will happen when the UK is no longer a member state?

The origins of the EAW?

The origin of the EEC was to have nothing to do with areas outside free trade but various Treaties – Maastricht, Amsterdam etc. showed an increasing influence on criminal law that the EU exerted manifesting in the EAW.

The adoption of the EAW became a political priority after the attacks of September 11th 2001 that drew attention to the necessity of carrying out an effective war against terrorism at global level.

How does the EAW work?

The EAW is issued by the Judiciary of a Member State to obtain the arrest and surrender by another Member State of an individual for the purposes of conducting a criminal prosecution or executing a custodial sentence or detention order. There are limited grounds for refusal to recognise and execute a warrant; the EAW must be dealt with a matter of urgency.

Despite the concerns that exist – inevitable in such circumstances - the fact that there is a reciprocal trust that exists between Member States, which justifies a highly automatic mutual recognition of judicial decisions is comforting, however will this trust continue when Brexit happens and the UK is no longer a Member State?

What could Brexit mean?

The UK has always had scepticism towards all things Europe and indeed only opted back in to these measures – 35 in total of which EAW and Europol are included– in November 2014.

In fact, on the one hand, a complete abandonment of all the measures implemented so far at the European Union level would represent a significant step backwards for the fight against transnational crime. On the other, negotiating the maintenance of only some selected key measures, such as the EAW, outside the common area of freedom, security and justice might nonetheless result in an incoherent and as such ineffective system.

Bryan McMahon