Italy isolated in EU arrest warrant discussion

Italy has isolated itself by blocking the
European arrest warrant, expected to be adopted at the EU
summit on 14-15 December at Laeken. France’s Foreign Minister
Hubert Védrine said the other 14 Member States may adopt
the arrest warrant without Italy.

Italy blocked the agreement at the EU Justice and Home
Affairs Council on 6-7 December, disagreeing with the list
of 32 serious cross-border crimes. Rome insists that the
European arrest warrant should only apply to a smaller list
of six crimes.

The Italian government has proposed a
compromise, a list consisting of 16 crimes and provisions
that would delay the implementation of the fast-track
extradition procedures. However, the other 14 Member States
rejected Italy’s proposal.


The French Foreign Ministers Hubert

said the Italian veto was "a real problem" for the EU and
"a real mistake for Italy". He said that Italy would have
to reconsider its position. Mr Védrine warned that the
harmonisation of European policies in the area of justice
and home affairs would take years unless this obstacle is

Germany's Minister of the Interior Otto

said that the Italian position was "completely

Some EU officials suspect that Italy is
blocking the agreement because of the personal concerns of
Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi who has been
subject of multiple judicial inquiries. An EU diplomat has
told Reuters that "Berlusconi is opening a major crisis
between himself and Europe". An Italian magistrate Antonio
di Pietro, who led an inquiry against Mr Berlusconi, said:
"Well done to Berlusconi, who in order to save his own
skin, is taking Italy out of Europe".


The leaders of the 15 EU Member States decided at their
informal summit in Ghent on 19 October that the Union
should take effective counter-terrorism measures, including
a common European arrest warrant. The arrest warrant would
replace the current lengthy and inefficient extradition
procedures in cases of terrorism and serious crime. Other
measures include a common definition of terrorism and money
laundering rules.


The Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, the current EU
President, will visit Rome on 11 December in a last attempt
to persuade the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
before the EU summit of Laeken (14-15 December).

Unless Mr Verhofstadt and Mr Berlusconi
reach and agreement on Tuesday, the issue of the arrest
warrant will have to be deferred to the Laeken summit.


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