Tuesday

13th Apr 2021

EU and US seal extradition pact

The EU and the US have signed a judicial co-operation agreement allowing European countries to refuse to extradite criminals who may be sentenced to the death penalty.

"We are establishing a joint ambition to continue our co-operation to fight gross international crime. But equally important is that we are agreed on strengthening the protection of the rights of the individual," Swedish justice minister Beatrice Ask, on behalf of the EU presidency, said at a signing ceremony with US attorney general Eric Holder at the Swedish embassy in Washington on Wednesday (28 October).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Prison cell: the pact will respect EU opposition to the death penalty (Photo: un.org)

A long-time critic of the death penalty in the US, the EU began negotiating the extradition agreement after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on US soil.

This is the first agreement on extradition between the United States and the European Union. It will enter into force in February 2010, after EU justice ministers ratified the deal earlier this month.

Under the deal, existing bilateral extradition treaties between the US and each member state will be streamlined and modernised, clarifying for instance the kind of offences that are extraditable, rules surrounding the exchange of information and transmission of documents and transit rules.

The agreement also sets the ground for the creation of joint European-US task forces to address terrorism and serious crimes and enables easier access to bank account information of suspected criminals.

It will allow international witnesses to testify by video conference, making it no longer necessary for a European witness, for example, to cross the Atlantic in order to appear in court.

While the two politicians applauded the agreement, they acknowledged that many important details remain to be ironed out. "The declaration is what we agreed on," Ms Ask said. "It's not possible for us to sort out all the judicial details."

Neither will the agreement have any impact on the transfer prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. Mr Holder said he hoped more countries would take inmates, but expressed scepticism that the official deadline for closing the prison – 22 January 2010 - could be met.

Only a handful of European countries so far have agreed to accept people released from Guantanamo. Spain, which will take over the rotating EU presidency in January, has been asked by the US to persuade the other member states to accept more detainees.

Madrid has already committed to accepting two detainees and is currently reviewing additional files of other inmates, Spanish justice minister Francisco Caamano said after an earlier meeting Mr Holder. The Socialist government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has said that Spain will only accept Guantanamo detainees who are not facing charges and have no criminal record in any EU country.

MEPs disagree with US on visas and tourist tax

The US will continue to treat EU members on a bilateral basis in its visa regime, but will review its passenger data policy towards Europeans, interior minister Janet Napolitano told MEPs on Friday. She also defended a controversial tourist tax as the only way to fund tourism promotion in the country.

Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency

Some 14 MEPs have created a group to probe allegations of rights abuse by the EU's border agency Frontex. Its head, Fabrice Leggeri, welcomed its creation and said it "is about time".

Romania denies forcing migrant-boat back to Turkish waters

Romania's ministry of internal affairs wrote to Frontex claiming it did not engage in any illegal pushbacks of people on rubber boats into Turkish territorial waters. The country says it followed EU engagement rules and Greek orders.

LGBTI fears over new Polish member at EU institution

A letter sent to the European Economic and Social Committee by a group of cross-party MEPs fighting for LGBTi rights expresses fears that a recently-appointed Polish member may try to undermine those rights.

EU condemns Slovenian PM's harassment of journalist

Slovenia's populist prime minister Janez Janša attempted to discredit a Brussels reporter after she published a critical article about the state of media freedoms in the country. The European Commission condemned the PM's language - but refrained from naming him.

News in Brief

  1. US officials call for J&J vaccine pause over blood clots
  2. Putin refuses to talk about military build-up, Ukraine says
  3. EU bank to help Greece manage corona-recovery funds
  4. Johnson & Johnson vaccine deliveries to EU begin
  5. EU sanctions commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard
  6. UK opens investigation into ex-PM Cameron lobbying
  7. 'Significant differences' in EU-UK talks on Northern Ireland
  8. Bulgarian PM reveals price rise in new EU-BioNTech deal

Feature

Covid-hit homeless find Xmas relief at Brussels food centre

The Kamiano food distribution centre in Brussels is expecting 20 people every half hour on Christmas Day. For many, Kamiano is also more than that - a support system for those made homeless or impoverished.

Top court finds Hungary and Poland broke EU rules

EU tribunal said Hungary's legislation made it "virtually impossible" to make an asylum application. Restricting access to international protection procedure is a violation of EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. How the pandemic became an EU goldmine for crime
  2. China responds to 'low-efficacy' vaccine fears
  3. Merkel party chiefs support Laschet's chancellor bid
  4. EU refuses to bail out Montenegro's China loan
  5. Industry lobby to 'co-decide' on nearly €10bn EU public money
  6. Why Ursula von der Leyen won't go
  7. Incorporating gender in trade policy to benefit all
  8. Does Italian regionalism actually work?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us