Saturday

28th Jan 2023

Just under 16,000 European arrest warrants issued in 2020

  • The warrants have in the past been issued for minor crimes, including riding a bicycle while drunk. (Photo: Coast Guard)
Listen to article

Almost 16,000 European arrests warrants were issued in 2020, compared to just over 20,000 in 2019, according to a European Commission document.

The warrants allow authorities in the 27 EU states to extradite people wanted for crimes where the offence carries a maximum penalty of at least one year in prison.

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

It can also be issued for a custodial sentence or detention order when the person sought has been sentenced to at least four months in jail.

The 16,000 covers everything from prosecution as well as surrender orders to either face trial or to serve a prison sentence in another EU state.

The warrants have in the past been issued for minor crimes, including riding a bicycle while drunk, or for the political persecution of Catalan politicians.

Over a 100 of such requests were refused in 2020 and mostly by Germany due to issues linked to fundamental rights.

But the latest statistics also provide an insight into how EU states handle or issue such requests and for what purposes.

Not all EU states offered figures, so the following data points are not entirely conclusive.

However, with the figures that were given puts theft and criminal damages at the top of the list of offences with almost 3,000 warrants issued.

This was followed by drug (1,508) and fraud and corruption offences (1,154). Poland also topped the list with 679 warrants related to theft and criminal offences.

At the bottom end, warrants for counterfeiting the euro offences led to only 23 warrants, followed by 103 for firearms/explosives and then 224 for human trafficking.

Romania issued the most human trafficking warrants with 93, followed by France (61) and Belgium (39).

Terrorism offences drew 178 warrants, mostly issued by France.

A total of some 6,152 arrests were made in 2020, following the warrants. Germany topped the list with 1,605, followed by Netherlands (719) and Spain (699).

Some 7,000 procedures for surrender were also initiated in 2020. Those procedures provide additional insights.

Just over half consented to their surrender with an average length of the procedure taking 44 days after the arrest, compared to only 16 days in 2019.

This poses a number of problems, especially in Greece where the average length was 521 days. By comparison, Luxembourg took one day, Malta two days, and Slovenia around 4.5 days over the same period of time.

For those who refused to consent, the procedure lasted around 111 days, up from around 55 in 2019.

Greece again topped the list averaging over 900 days, compared to only around 49 in 2019. By comparison, Luxembourg took 15 days, Malta 18 days, and Spain and Romania both 20 days.

Opinion

Free movement threatened if European arrest warrant abused

Selecting in which country to execute a European Arrest Warrant - as Spain appears to have done in the Puigdemont case - sets worrying precedents as EU states such as Poland and Hungary diverge from the rule of law.

Poland's legal fixes to collect EU funds come under fire

Unlocking the €35.4bn in grants and loans allocated for Poland as part of the EU's Covid-19 fund is key for the Law & Justice (PiS) government to boost its chances ahead of the upcoming elections in the autumn.

Opinion

Why the new ECHR Ukraine-Russia ruling matters

The ECHR ruled that Russia was in "effective control" of separatist regions of Eastern Ukraine from 11 May 2014. In doing so, the court has formally acknowledged the inter-state character of the conflict and Russia's culpability for human rights abuses.

Opinion

Greece's spy scandal must shake us out of complacency

The director of Amnesty International Greece on the political spying scandal that now threatens to bring down prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Activists and NGO staff work with the constant fear that they are being spied on.

Latest News

  1. Pressure mounts on EU to coordinate visas for Russian rights-defenders
  2. Dutch set to agree to US-led chip controls to China
  3. No record of Latvian MEP's 'official' Azerbaijan trip
  4. Why the new ECHR Ukraine-Russia ruling matters
  5. Europe continues to finance Russia's war in Ukraine with lucrative fossil fuel trades
  6. Official: EU parliament's weak internal rule-making body leads to 'culture of impunity'
  7. Red tape border logjam for EU's 1.3m 'frontier workers'
  8. Greece's spy scandal must shake us out of complacency

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  2. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  3. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  4. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us