European Arrest Warrant

(Photo: Hasse Holst)

European Arrest Warrant

Based on the principle of mutual recognition of judicial decisions, the EU adopted the European arrest warrant by a Framework Decision in 2002. The EAW was put in force across the EU by January 1, 2004, replacing the previously used extradition procedures.

The EAW lays down a return procedure run solely by the judiciary and does not include a political and administrative phase. It is therefore considered speedier and simpler in application.

A national court of a member state can issue an EAW to another (court of a) Member State to either arrest or surrender to it a person who is accused of an offence for which the penalty in the state issuing the EAW is at least over one year’s imprisonment.

In addition to that, the Framework Decision on the EAW enumerates 32 categories of serious crimes (such as participation in a criminal organisation, sexual exploitation of children, child pornography, and fraud, including those frauds pertaining to the financial interests of the European Union) for which the so-called “dual criminality” principle does not apply.

"Dual criminality" means that in both countries the deeds of the alleged criminal or convicted fugitive are considered as a crime. For those offences falling within the 32 categories, the EAW has to be executed by the arresting member state regardless of whether its legislation considers the offence as a crime, provided that the offence is serious enough to be punished by at least 3 years imprisonment in the EAW-issuing member State.

For offences other than those in the 32 categories or for offences falling under the 32 categories which are not punishable by at least 3 years’ imprisonment in the Member States of issuance, the dual criminality principle still applies.


See also Justice and Home Affairs.

European arrest warrant