20th Jun 2019

EU-US judicial co-operation under discussion

Plans for EU-US judicial co-operation in criminal matters are still being met with reservations from some EU States.

A discussion on this issue on Friday, between the EU Justice Ministers, is unlikely to bring an agreement, although the Greek Presidency hopes for a final deal by May or June of this year.

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  • Cyber-crime, attacks against information systems, will also be on the EU Justice Minsters agenda. (Photo: European Commission)

The agreements currently being discussed between the EU and US would ease the extradition process by simplifying documentation, particularly in urgent cases.

The deal also seeks to resolve situations where both the US and the EU issue the same request for an extradition.

No extradition necessary between member states

EU leaders have agreed on what to do when competing requests are made between EU states themselves. In this case the European Arrest Warrant will apply.

The Warrant, agreed in December 2001 by the EU states and coming into force in January 2004, will eliminate national frontiers. Extradition will not now be necessary between one EU state and another.

The US is requesting the same privilege as the EU states. A point fiercely opposed by the Union.

The plan currently negotiated between the EU and US also aims to improve co-operation on investigations into financial elements of serious crime including organised crime, terrorism and financial crime.

No to capital punishment

The draft text does includes a provision that prohibits extradition if the death penalty may be sought. The EU fought hard for this.

The Portuguese constitution, for example, does not allow extradition where it involves death penalty and life sentences in prison.

"We have to make sure that our constitution is respected, but we are confident that an agreement will be reached," a spokesperson to the Portuguese Justice Minister told the EUobserver.

France, on the other hand, needs more time for the parliamentary ratification. "The negotiations have finished recently so the parliament still needs more time to consider the sensitive issues."

But it is also concerned about the death penalty and on the transmission of information.

Cyber-crime on the agenda

The 15 EU Justice Ministers are also expected to adopt a common approach on cyber-crime - attacks against information systems.

Three issues are of particular concern: the illegal access to systems, the spreading of computer viruses and the blockage of the system with large amounts of information.

At the moment there is no harmonisation between the EU states on rules in this area. Organised criminals are operating through communication networks to launch their attacks against information systems.

This hampers the fight against organised crime and terrorism and is acting as a barrier to effective police and judicial co-operation.

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