Italy accepts EU arrest warrant

The Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi,
has stepped out of isolation by endorsing the EU agreement on
the European arrest warrant. Mr Berlusconi agreed with the
Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, the current EU
President, that Italy would accept the deal on fast extradition
procedures such as defined by the 15 interior ministers on 6

Italy blocked the agreement at the EU Justice and Home
Affairs Council on 6-7 December, arguing that it would
infringe on its sovereignty. Rome disagreed with the list
of 32 serious cross-border crimes and insisted that the
European arrest warrant should only apply to a smaller list
of acts of terrorism.

The arrest warrant will now apply in all
15 Member States for crimes ranging from financial fraud
and human trafficking to paedophilia and terrorism. The
suspects will be arrested in any EU country and handed over
without the right of appeal.


14 Member States agreed on the European arrest warrant at
the Justice and Home Affairs Council of 6-7 December, but
Italy blocked its adoption. The arrest warrant is part of
the wide-ranging measures taken by the EU in the aftermath
of the 11 September terrorist attacks. The arrest warrant
will replace the current lengthy and inefficient
extradition procedures in cases of terrorism and serious


The final approval of the European arrest warrant by Italy
is subject to constitutional changes, to be made by the
parliament by the end of 2003.


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