The European Arrest Warrant

The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) is the key mutual recognition initiative in criminal law. Entering into force on 1 January 2004, it replaced the traditional extradition system within the EU with an arrest warrant, valid for the entire territory of the EU, which can be issued by Member State authorities. In general, a test of “dual criminality”, namely that the act to which the warrant relates is an offence in both the issuing and executing states, is required, although for a list of thirty-two offences no such test is necessary.

The ECBA has followed the development of this instrument, and has made submissions and representations about the problems encountered by the accused and defendants faced with such proceedings, in particular access to legal advice in both the issuing and executing states.

The framework decision was adopted in haste following the events of 9/11 as an essential tool to tackle terrorism, however there have been concerns about the lack of procedural safeguards in the new system. In the meantime, the procedural rights’ Directives have introduced some balance in this regard, but we are still in a first stage of their practical implementation. Therefore it is too early to say whether the law in action corresponds to the law in books.

Do not hesitate to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. about your experience with the implementation of these Directives in the Scope of the EAW, in particular:

The key work the ECBA has conducted in this area includes:

1. ECBA Handbook on the EAW for Defence Lawyers – following the recommendations of the 2012 study, the ECBA, with contribution from JUSTICE, has produced a Handbook for practitioners on how to defend an EAW. The General Part on EU Law is available on-line on a dedicated website and also as a downloadable PDF 
2. Partnership with EIPA Luxembourg - European Centre for Judges and Lawyers (ECJL) Training Intersections of the Application of the European Arrest Warrant and the Protection of Fundamental Rights
3. Partnership with the Academy of European Law / Europäische Rechtsakademie (ERA) Training EU Criminal Law for Defence Counsel – Focus on the European Arrest Warrant, partly funded by the European Commission
4. Study “European Arrest Warrants - Ensuring and Effective Defence” - joint ECBA, JUSTICE and ICJ study and partly funded by the European Commission – the report was published in 2012 and was the culmination of a two year study reviewing defence of EAW's in practice in ten EU member states.
5. E-Learning Course for Academy of European Law / Europäische Rechtsakademie (ERA) The European Arrest Warrant: 10 Key Questions for Defence Counsel
6. Attending expert meetings, providing information about problems encountered by defence lawyers and campaigning for procedural safeguards to protect the rights of citizens throughout the EU
7. The European Arrest Warrant Project Website – providing practical information to defence lawyers and the public about the adoption of the framework decision in each member state and as a resource of case law.

If you are interested in becoming involved in this Project and/or Working Group please contact the secretariat This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


The ECBA is very pleased to announce that a ECBA Handbook on the EAW has been published on the following website:

Read the EAW Handbook

Cofunded by European Union

The project is being implemented by EIPA Luxembourg - European Centre for Judges and Lawyers (ECJL) in partnership with KSSIP – Krajowa Szkola Sadownictwa I Prokuratury in Poland and the European Criminal Bar Association.

The EU has been active in adopting legislation in the field of criminal law in order to facilitate judicial cooperation among EU Member States, to fight serious and organised crime and in general to tackle cross-border criminal activity. While there are a number of legislative instruments at place, it is crucial that practitioners, judges and prosecutors are not only aware of the existence of EU legislation, but understand and apply the relevant European – level instruments. This is especially true for mutual recognition instruments which aim to put cross border judicial cooperation in criminal matters at a truly different context, requiring mutual trust and more intensive cooperation both from national authorities and legal practitioners. The leading mutual recognition instrument, the European Arrest Warrant, is certainly the pivotal EU criminal law instrument. Please click here to read more.

EIPA Luxembourg - European Centre for Judges and Lawyers
Ms Christiane Lamesch
Tel: +352 426 230 302
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Training calendar
The project will consist of a series of three seminars. 

The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) is frequently described as a proof of the success of mutual recognition. Nonetheless it is also often described as a victim of its own success. The EAW has operated a radical change in extradition proceedings within the EU, in particular by reducing cases of refusal of extradition and by radically speeding up the surrender procedures. This has led Member States’ authorities to use this instrument more thatn any other mutual coopearation instruments, even in cases where other instruments would be sufficient to guarantee the efficiency of criminal proceedings and would constitute a much less severe intrusion into the citizens’ rights.
The ECBA and many other NGO’s have been advocating for a reform of the EAW over the last years. Recently politicians and EU Institutions have also recognized the shortcomings of the system. The European Parliament (EP) has now took an innovative and decisive step in this problem area and has initiated a legislative process for the review of the EAW. MEP Baroness Sarah Ludford has been appointed Rapporteur for a European Parliament report  'Review of the European Arrest Warrant' and organized a group group hearing the 17th October 2013 in order to gather evidence and views from experts in the field. The ECBA was invited to attend and represented by Advisory Board Members Vania Costa Ramos (The link to the recording of the hearing can be found here and the Library summary of the event here).

After the hearing MEP Baroness Sarah Ludford has drafted a legislative own-initiative draft report for the EP with recommendations to the Commission on the review of the European Arrest Warrant.

Baroness Ludford’s Report proposes that the EP requests the Commission to submit, on the basis of Article 82 TFUE legislative providing for:

  1. a mandatory refusal ground based on the infringement or risk of infringement of human rights applicable to mutual recognition instruments;
  2. a proportionality check when issuing mutual recognition decisions, based on the seriousness of the offence and the availability of an appropriate less intrusive alternative measure;
  3. a standardised consultation procedure whereby the relevant authorities in the issuing and executing state can exchange information regarding the execution of judicial decisions, for example in regard to the EAW to ascertain trial-readiness;
  4. a procedure whereby a mutual recognition measure can, if necessary, be validated in the issuing State by a judge, court, investigating magistrate or public prosecutor, in order to overcome the differing interpretations of the term “judicial authority”;
  5. consistent legal remedies to secure the right to an effective legal remedy in compliance with Article 47(1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union;

It also proposes the EP to call:

  • for a regular review of non-executed EAWs and consideration of whether they, together with the corresponding SIS and Interpol alerts, should be withdrawn; also calls for the withdrawal of EAWs and the corresponding SIS and Interpol alerts where the EAW has been refused on mandatory grounds;
  • on Member States to implement the whole body of Union criminal justice measures and thereby make available to judicial authorities alternative and less intrusive mutual recognition instruments ;
  • for Member States to compensate damage arising from miscarriages of justice relating to mutual recognition instruments, in accordance with the standards laid down in the ECHR and in the well-established case-law of the ECJ;
  • on Member States and the Commission to cooperate in strengthening contact networks of judges, prosecutors and criminal defence lawyers to facilitate effective and well-informed EAW proceedings, and to offer relevant training at national and European level to judicial and legal practitioners including defence lawyers acting in such proceedings.
  • on the Commission to provide adequate funding to bodies such as the European Judicial Training Network, to the potential European Arrest Warrant Judicial Network and to a network of defence lawyers working on European criminal justice and extradition matters.
  • on the Commission to explore the legal and financial means available at Union level to improve detention conditions in Member States.

Please click here for the draft report and here for the amendments.

The European arrest warrant has been in force since 2003. Much research has been carried out into whether the framework decision was implemented correctly and whether member states are able to use the instrument efficiently and cooperate with each other effectively. There has however been an absence of research on effective representation of suspects in the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) Scheme.

This project aims to provide some idea of how effective defence cases are from the particular perspective of the defence lawyer. It is a two year project. This report is an interim report to assist with consideration of the legislative initiative of the proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the right of access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings and on the right to communicate upon arrest, Measure C on the Swedish Roadmap on procedural safeguards.

This is a joint project between JUSTICE, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the European Criminal Bar Association (ECBA).
The project commenced in September 2010 with six member states. It expanded in the summer of 2011 to ten. The ten EU member states involved in the project are the UK (England and Scotland), Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Poland and Portugal.

To read the interim report please click here.

The full report is available by clicking here.

You will also find information on following link


The UK Home Office is promoting an independent review of the UK's ex-tradition laws and the Chair of the Extradition Review Panel, Lord Scott Baker has invited the ECBA to contribute by expressing its views.

To read the full text of the response please click here.

Implementation of the European Arrest Warrant and Joint Investigation Teams at EU and National Level
Study - January 2009
Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.

This is a report by Nadja Long, Lecturer, European Centre for Judges and Lawyers, European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA), Luxembourg.
This is not an ECBA project but has been provided here for information only.

The document is available in PDF. Please click here.

The project website was an initiative of the ECBA to provide criminal defence lawyers with practical and practice-based information about European Arrest Warrant (EAW) surrender cases. It was developed within the scope of the European Arrest Warrant Project (, coordinated by the T.M.C. Asser Institute. As a consortium partner in this project, the ECBA focused on the defence rights of suspects in surrender proceedings.

This website primarily focuses on the following items:

  • Basic Criminal Procedural Law: detailing the basic elements of criminal procedure in each EU Member State.
  • EAW-Case Law: comprehensive summary case reports of case law concerning the EAW, with a focus on defence rights of suspects and, where possible, a link to the original judgment.
  • Conferences: overview of noteworthy conferences and expert meetings concerning the EAW.


PLEASE CONTACT This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

On 25 and 26 November 2005 the expert meeting of the participants to the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) Project of the European Criminal Bar Association (ECBA) took place at the Maastricht University.

Hosts were Taru Spronken (editor in chief of the project) and Marelle Attinger (research-assistant and website coordinator of the project).
The EAW Project of the ECBA focuses on defence rights of suspects in EAW surrender cases.

The project aims (1) to build a network of criminal defence lawyers throughout the European Union specializing in EAW surrender cases and (2) to develop a knowledge centre on basic criminal procedural law of every EU Member State and noteworthy case law concerning EAW surrender cases.
This knowledge centre will be made publicly available on the internet.

The project has received financial support from the AGIS Programme of the European Commission - Directorate General Justice, Liberty and Security and from our faculty.
The EAW Project of the ECBA is part or a larger project that is coordinated by the T.M.C. Asser Institute in The Hague ( The consortium partners are: the Amsterdam Centre for International Law, the ECBA, the Faculty of Law of the University of Lund, the Information Point for Members of Parliament of the National Library of Estonia, JUSTICE (London), the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law (Freiburg) and the Ministry of Justice of Romania.

In total 19 participants from 12 EU Member States were present at the expert meeting. Unfortunately, due to the bad weather conditions on Friday 25 november 2005, some participants could not reach Maastricht properly.

On 25 November the progress of the project was presented and discussed. On 26 November the contents of the knowledge centre was critically reviewed in small working groups.
It was a very fruitful event. We received a lot of positive feedback regarding the contents, the organization and the positive atmosphere.

The website is available to the public.

The Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council of the Member States of the European Union passed the Framework Decision on the European Arrest Warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States on the 13th of June 2002 in Sevilla [1]. The principle on which the European Arrest Warrant is based on is the mutual recognition of the Member States national legal authorities’ decisions thus simplifying the extradition (surrender) of a requested person.

The essential innovations on the basis of this Framework Decision can be summarised as such, that 1) the number and the extent of criteria permitting extradition (surrender) and transit have been reduced, that 2) certain time limits for the decision to execute the European Arrest Warrant have been established, and 3) the designation of additional technical simplifications (e.g. in the area of tracing). The Framework Decision was to be implemented by the 31st of december 2003 and replaces the corresponding provisions of the existing conventions in the field of extradition in relations between the Member States. Up to now only a draft bill (EuHbG) [2] exists in Germany which will presumably be adopted by the German Bundestag in spring 2004.

This German draft bill (EuHbG) is based on the appropriate cognition that the exact laterally reversed equation of foreign arrest warrants and valid sentences with domestic decisions is not possible and is at the moment not to be thought desirable by any Member State. On the 3rd of december 2001 – before the basic agreement of the representatives (JHA) of the EU Member States on 6th/7th of december 2001 in Laken – the Federal Bar of Germany (Bundesrechtsanwaltskammer = BRAK) had articulately emphasised the factual and systematical differences in the criminal law cultures that have grown over centuries and are rooted deeply in the societies of the particular states. A fundamental rights clause for each individual case that has been demanded in this context – also by the Criminal Law Committees of the BRAK and the German Bar Association (Deutscher AnwaltVerein = DAV) – has fortunately been accounted for in Art. 1 (3) of the Framework Decision. According to this the European Arrest Warrant is subject to the fundamental rights and the fundamental legal principles of Art. 6 of the Treaty on European Union including Art. 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). As per Nr. 12 of the reasons of the Framework Decision a reference is also made to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the principles reflected therein. Nr. 13 of the reasons of the Framework Decision alludes to the possibility to deny the execution of the European Arrest Warrant if political prosecution or a serious risk of death penalty or torture exists. Despite the clear guidelines of the Framework Decision the draft bill in objective does not include an equally clear commitment. However § 6 (2) IRG [3] (no extradition in case of political prosecution or similar) and § 8 IRG (no death penalty) are still to be applied. The reason of the threat of torture in the requesting state which is understood as a compulsory barrier by international law has thus not been explicitly incorporated in the EuHbG. The same applies for a fundamental rights reservation of the German constitution and the ECHR as well as the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, that, according to the ideas of the German practitioners represented by BRAK and DAV, should have been expressly stated in the national law. The Framework Decision does permit a national fundamental rights reservation (conversely in the explanatory statement for the German draft bill in regard to § 73 S. 2, page 27) and undoubtedly – also in the future – any surrender or extradition decision has to be compatible with the fundamental rights of the German constitution and accordingly may be legally reviewed by the German Federal Constitutional Supreme Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht).

From our point of view on the basis of the Framework Decision there can be no doubt, that within the scope of § 73 IRG (“ordre public”) – now extended on overriding legal principles of the EU – an appropriate legal examination in the sense of the Framework Decision has to be made. Thus a surrender (or  extradition) is illegitimate if it contradicts either “essential principals of the German legal system” (§ 73 S. 1 IRG) or “overriding legal principles of the EU” (§ 73 S. 2 IRG-Draft).



Basically commendable is the conception of the bill for the implementation of the Framework Decision to integrate the proceedings for the European Arrest Warrant into the existing IRG and to keep the competence of the “Oberlandesgerichte” (Higher Regional Courts) – and simultaneously the competence of the “Generalstaatsanwaltschaften” (Public Prosecutors at the Higher Regional Court) – for the decision on the admissibility of the surrender (or extradition); a right decision also in view of Art. 104 GG (German Constitution). Under the aspect of constitutional law the admissibility of an extradition as a result of “another executionable decision”, i.e. decisions of a “legal authority” like the public prosecutor’s office (see § 83a (1) Nr. 2 and 3 IRG-Draft), remains extremely problematic.

In this context, the so called “rule of specialty” in § 83h (3) IRG-Draft, that states, that the irrevocable expression of renunciation may be manifested in a prosecutors protocol, is problematic. The Provision in §§ 41 (2) and (3), 11 IRG would have been preferrable as more in accordance with the rule of law.



According to the guidelines of the Framework Decision (Art. 3 Nr. 2) the principle of “ne bis in idem” in § 83 Nr. 1 IRG-Draft extends on valid foreign judgments, as far as the sentence was one of an acquittal or in case of a conviction, the sanction has already been executed, is executed at present or may not be executed any more under the law of the requesting Member State. Corresponding to the jurisdiction of the EuGH (11th of february 2003, C-187/01 and C-335/01) the principle of “ne bis in idem” is also applicable to proceedings that were (if so: out of court) closed after an imposed (e.g. financial) condition has been fulfilled (see explanatory statement for the draft bill, page 39). For the rest § 9 Nr. 1 IRG remains completely applicable (inadmissibilty of extradition in case of German convictions, denial of the opening of the trial, denial of the Klageerzwingungsverfahren or in case of closed proceedings after the fulfillment of conditions and directives, the same in juvenile law).
The formulation in § 83 Nr. 1 IRG-Draft, that extradition shall not be admissible any more, if a sentence can not be executed any more under the law of “the requesting Member State” is presumably an editorial error; correctly it should read “under the law of the sentencing Member State may not be executed any more” (see explanatory statement for the draft bill, page 39). It is incomprehensible that with foreign judgments the indamissibility of the surrender depends on whether the execution of the sentence has already begun or ended while according to § 9 (1) IRG that applies to all cases of German court decisions the stage of execution is irrelevant. It would be appropriate to put the court decisions of any Member State on par with German judgments and to assume irrespective of the question of execution the inadmissibility of the surrender (or extradition) according to the principle of “ne bis in idem”.



The significant reservations regarding the surrender (or extradition) of national citizens remain on the basis of the draft bill, last but not least in face of the continuous expansion of the EU. The original regulation of § 83c (1) of the first draft bill, in which the extradition of a German citizen in case of criminal prosecution was considered admissible “if the requesting Member State assures that on German demand the prosecuted person will after the conviction to a term of imprisonment or any other sanction be re-transferred into the area of validity of this law for the execution” has not been implemented. Henceforth on the prosecuted persons wish at least an offer of the requesting state for a later re-extradition to Germany is guaranteed (§ 80 (1) IRG-Draft). However the “German demand” for a re-extradition (“acceptance of the offer”) is still mandatory. The Federal Republic of Germany has the power to temporarily ostracise national citizens from the social community for an extradition on the purpose of criminal prosecution in a Member State of the EU, e.g. in cases of bilaterally nonexistent punishability. There is no guarantee for the concerned person that Germany will accept the “offer” of a re-extradition, i.e. the formal demand of the German state.
This extraordinarily problematic legal situation becomes obviuos in the explanatory statement for § 80 of the draft bill (page 32 of the draft bill): “Whether Germany places an according demand depends on whether the assistance in the execution is presumably admissible and in the case of the admissibility if it will be granted. In unfrequent individual cases the possibility exists that an offer of assistance in the execution may legally not be taken. (…) Also the bilateral punishability may not be given. The execution of a foreign sentence to imprisonment in the Federal Republic of Germany without the ensuring of a bilateral punishability does not only violate the rules on international assistance in executional matters, but also violates major German legal principles”. Thus in the view of the authors of the draft the admissibility-criterion of mutual punishability in § 80 IRG-Draft is obviously not to be understood as a guarantee but it is deemed possible to extradite a German citizen for the purpose of a criminal prosecution who could for lack of punishability in the Federal Republic of Germany not be re-extradited for the purpose of execution. This contradiction has to be solved in § 80 IRG-Draft in the sense of the effective § 3 (3) IRG so that an extradition for prosecutional purposes may only be admissible if the re-extradition to the Federal Republic of Germany for executional purposes is legally possible and with the demand of the concerned guaranteed. The verification of bilateral punishability appears to be an indispensable prerequisite of admissibility (against § 81 Nr. 4 IRG-Draft).
The explanatory statement for the draft bill is to be fully agreed at another part: “Thus the uniformity of the main premises of admissibility inbetween surrender and assistance in the execution to which especially the bilateral punishability belongs has to be kept as much as possible.” (page 35 of the explanatory statement). As part of the admissibility it is not to be checked whether the allegation is bilaterally punishable or to be qualified as a delict from the catalogue (see § 81 Nr. 4 IRG-Draft). This concession to an accelarated practice of verification still seems to be highly problematic and will in case of doubt only be brought to an adequate solution with the help of § 73 IRG, the ordre-public-clause. The German practitioners nevertheless entertain serious doubt on the constitutionality of the intended provision in § 81 Nr. 4 IRG-Draft that on the basis of the catalogue of Art. 2 Hs. 2 of the Framework Decision a verification of the bilateral punishability is generally unnecessary.
Likewise the wish of the German practitioners - to create at last a facultative obstacle for the approval when the request is made to surrender a German citizen - has not become part of the draft bill (see § 83b IRG-Draft).



It may be pointed out that the present proceedings of extradition under the rules of the IRG appeared to be deficient in respect to the normal case of an extradition proceeding in which the judges at the Oberlandesgericht did not personally see the prosecuted person on whom they had to decide and that the concerned person could not deliver an oral statement towards “his” judges (see §§ 21 ff. IRG, 28, 30 (2) and (3) IRG). It is acknowledged that Art. 104 GG has to be seen in the light of Art. 9 (4) IPBPR [4] that – contrary to Art. 5 ECHR – does not distinguish between pre-trial custody and extraditory custody. The German Federal Court (Bundesgerichtshof) derived in a case of the structurally comparable § 115a StPO the right (and if so the obligation) to an immediate examination of a custodial decision by a judge even the “next judge” in the sense of § 115a StPO from Art. 9 (4) IPBPR [5]. Thereof the demand in the context of the European Arrest Warrant is not to differentiate – like in the current extradition procedure – between court of hearing  resp. questioning and court of decision [6]. This modification has not taken place.



According to the statements of the BRAK dating 3rd of December 2001 und March 2003 as well as of the DAV dating June 2002 the concept of the European Arrest Warrant has to generally provide for a so called double necessary defense due to the dimension and complexity of the proceedings., i.e. in the country of the execution as well as in the country issuing the arrest warrant a case of a “necessary defense” (obligation for legal aid) in the sense of § 140 StPO [7] should be assumed and a defense counsel should be assigned (see Art. 6 (3) c) ECHR). In this area remains need for impovements bei the legislator.


Dr. Holger Matt,
Rechtsanwalt from Frankfurt am Main, Vice-Chairman of the ECBA

Dr. Anne Wehnert,
Rechtsanwältin from Düsseldorf, both members of the Criminal Law Committee of the BRAK


[1] Printed in the Official Journal of the European Communities, 18 July 2002, L 190/1.
[2] Gesetzentwurf der Bundesregierung zur Umsetzung des Rahmenbeschlusses über den Europäischen Haftbefehl und die Übergabeverfahren zwischen den Mitgliedstaaten der EU, BR-Dr. 547/03.
[3] IRG = Law on International Assisstance in Criminal Matters (LIACM).
[4] IPBPR = International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR).
[5] BGHSt 42, 343, 347.
[6] See Schomburg/Lagodny Vor § 15 IRG Rn. 8 b.
[7] StPO = Strafprozessordnung = Code of Criminal Procedure.