26 Sep

Court of Justice of the European Union about the notification by the United Kingdom of its intention to withdraw from the EU

The notification, by the United Kingdom, of its intention to withdraw from the EU does not have the consequence that execution of a European arrest warrant issued by that Member State must be refused or postponed.

In the absence of substantial grounds to believe that the person who is the subject of that warrant is at risk of being deprived of rights recognised by the Charter and the Framework Decision following the withdrawal from the EU of the issuing Member State, the warrant must be executed while that State remains a member of the EU.

The case

In 2016 the United Kingdom issued two European arrest warrants (‘EAWs’) in respect of RO (the first in January 2016 and the second in May 2016) for the purposes of conducting prosecutions of the offences of murder, arson and rape. RO was arrested in Ireland on the basis of these arrest warrants and has been in custody since 3 February 2016. RO raised objections to his surrender by

Ireland to the United Kingdom on the basis, amongst other things, of issues related to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU.

The High Court (Ireland) ruled against RO on all his points of objection, other than the issues of the consequences of Brexit. It therefore asks the Court of Justice whether, in light of the fact that the United Kingdom gave notice on 29 March 2017 of its intention to withdraw from the EU, and of the uncertainty as to the arrangements which will be in place after the United Kingdom’s withdrawal, it is required to refuse to surrender to the United Kingdom a person subject to an EAW whose surrender would otherwise be mandatory.

The judgment

The Court concludes therefore that mere notification by a Member State of its intention to withdraw from the European Union is not an ‘exceptional’ circumstance capable of

justifying a refusal to execute an EAW issued by that Member State. Such a consequence would constitute a unilateral suspension of the provisions of the Framework Decision and would run counter to the provision of that decision which states that it is for the European Council to determine a breach in the issuing Member State of the principles set out in Article 2 TEU, with a view to an EAW being suspended.

However, the Court states that it remains the task of the executing judicial authority to examine whether there are substantial grounds to believe that, after withdrawal from the European Union of

the issuing Member State, the person who is the subject of the EAW is at risk of being deprived of his fundamental rights and the rights derived, in essence, from the Framework Decision.

In that regard, the Court emphasises that the United Kingdom is party to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and that its continuing participation in that convention is not linked to its being a member of the EU. In addition, the United Kingdom is also party to the European Convention on Extradition of 13 December 1957, and has

incorporated, in its national law, other rights and obligations currently contained in the Framework Decision.

Click here to access the full judgment.

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