The European Arrest Warrant (EAW)

The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) is a simplified cross-border court procedure for surrender for the purposes of prosecution or execution of a custodial sentence or detention order. An order issued by a judicial authority of one EU Member State is valid for the whole territory of the European Union.
The European Arrest Warrant has been in force since 1 January 2004. It replaces the long extradition procedures that existed between the EU Member States.
Way of acting
It represents a request by a judicial authority in one EU Member State to detain a person in another Member State and to surrender that person for the purpose of prosecution or execution of a custodial sentence or detention order issued in the first member country. The mechanism is based on the principle of mutual recognition of judicial decisions. It operates in all EU Member States.
It operates through direct contacts between the judicial authorities.
When implementing the EAW, the authorities must respect the procedural rights of suspects or accused persons, such as the right to information, the right to have a lawyer, the right to have an interpreter and the right to legal assistance as provided for under the law of the country in which they are detained .
What are the differences with traditional extradition?
Strict deadlines:
The State in which the person is detained must take a final decision on the execution of the European arrest warrant within 60 days of the person's detention.
If the person agrees to the surrender, the detention order must be taken within 10 days.
The requested person must be surrendered as soon as possible to a date agreed between the relevant authorities and no later than 10 days after the final decision on the execution of the European arrest warrant.
32 categories of crimes are no longer required for double criminality
For 32 categories of crimes, no check is made as to whether the act qualifies as a crime in both countries. The only requirement is that the offense is punishable in the issuing State by imprisonment for a maximum period of not less than three years in the issuing State.
As regards other crimes, the act may be made conditional on the act of committing a crime in the executing State.
Lack of political interference
Decisions are only taken by the judicial authorities, and any political considerations are excluded.
Transmitting its own citizens
EU Member States can no longer refuse to surrender their own citizens unless they assume the execution of a custodial sentence against the requested person.
The state that implements the EAW may request guarantees that:
(a) after a specified period, the person will have the right to request a review of the sentence imposed if it is life imprisonment.
(b) the requested person may serve the custodial sentence imposed in the executing State if he is a national of his or her habitual residence.
Limited number of grounds for refusal
A State may refuse to surrender the requested person only if one of the mandatory or non-binding grounds for refusal is applicable:
Obligatory reasons
- the person has already been convicted or acquitted of the same offense (ne bis in idem)
- juveniles (the person has not reached the age at which he / she can be criminally liable in the executing State)
- the amnesty (the executing State had the opportunity to prosecute the person and the offense was amnested in that country).
Optional grounds such as:
- no double criminality for offenses other than the 32 offenses referred to in Article 2 (2) of the EAW Framework Decision
- territorial competence
- pending criminal proceedings in the executing State
- expired prescription and others.


The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) The European Arrest Warrant (EAW)