EU and US discuss agreement on judicial co-operation

The EU and the US are starting talks next week about increasing judicial cooperation in criminal matters, in particular extradition.

The US Attorney General John Ashcroft is to meet EU justice ministers in Copenhagen on 14 September to discuss judicial co-operation in the framework of the fight against international terrorism.

Extradition is one of the key issues, with the US death penalty a key problem for the Europeans. The EU does not want its citizens to face lifelong jail terms or death penalty in the US. According to officials, the US may not be willing to give the EU general guarantees on the death penalty but might give them on a case-by-case basis.

The Danish Presidency would also like to reach an agreement on the exchange of personal data between Europol and the US authorities.

A new EU-US co-operation agreement could lead to joint interrogations using video conferencing and close co-operation on criminal and terrorism investigations.

The British civil liberties organisation Statewatch has warned against negotiating an EU-US agreement without the European or national parliaments being consulted. Tony Bunyan, Statewatch editor, stated that "it is quite unacceptable in a democracy that an agreement should be negotiated with a non-EU state in secret, without the European and national parliaments or civil society having any say whatsoever". "This is a primary example of fundamental rights and protections built up in the EU over decades being put up for negotiation by EU governments to meet US demands in the so-called 'war on terrorism'," he added.


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