EU adopts European arrest warrant

The EU interior and justice ministers reached an
agreement on a Europe-wide arrest warrant that will replace
lengthy extradition procedures in cases of terrorism and
serious crime.

The European arrest warrant, due to be adopted by the
leaders of the 15 Member States at the European Council of
Laeken on 14-15 December, will remove the need for
extradition proceedings at EU level. Under the deal, the
Member States will have to hand over suspects within 60
days of receiving an arrest warrant from another EU state.

The EU arrest warrant will be applied
for a list of 29 offences, approved by the Council on 16
November. The list includes crimes ranging from terrorism,
trafficking with people, arms, drugs and nuclear materials,
to murder, paedophilia and child pornography.

The ministers also discussed plans for a
common definition of terrorism and for harmonisation of
prison sentences. The current proposal foresees prisons
sentence for serious terrorist crimes of not less than 15
years, and sentences for other terrorist crimes of not less
than 5 years.


Civil liberties groups

fear that new legislation will infringe on NGO activities,
such as trade unions or anti-globalisation protests.


The leaders of the 15 EU Member States decided at their
informal summit in Ghent on 19 October that the Union
should take further counter-terrorism measures, including a
common European arrest warrant. The arrest warrant would
replace the current inefficient extradition procedures.
Other measures include a common definition of terrorism and
money laundering rules that were given the green light in
the European Parliament on 13 November and now await the
formal decision of the Council.


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