Irish government not consulted on European arrest warrant proposal

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The Irish government was not consulted on the Framework Decision on a European arrest warrant before it was agreed by the EU's Justice and Home Affairs Council in December. The proposed Framework Decision was put forward by the European Commission and the usual procedure would be for the Commission to consult with external experts (like academics and layers) and with senior national government officials before putting forward a proposal.

The Irish Attorney General, Mr Michael McDowell, has said that the Irish government was not consulted prior to the Commission adopting the proposed Framework Decision - which formed the basic text considered by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union (the 15 EU governments). Despite this lack of consultation Ireland will have to transform the proposal into its national law by the end of 2003.

The comment by Mr McDowell was made at a conference in Trier last December but was only publicly revealed at a conference organised by the Irish Centre for European Law at a conference in Dublin on 13 April.

The proposal, which was rushed through the European Parliament and the Justice and Home Affairs Council, is highly controversial as it replaces existing extradition laws (which contain important rights for suspects before their removal), gets rid of the need for "dual criminality" (whereby the offence of which a person is accused is a crime in both states) and allows the extradition of nationals without the right to a proper right of appeal to a court in their own country to decide it the grounds for extradition are sufficient.

The Framework Decision on the European arrest warrant has been "politically agreed" by the Council of the European Union but was not formally adopted because of parliamentary scrutiny reservations in the UK, Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden - the UK and Danish reserves have now been withdrawn. The measure cannot be formally adopted until all the reserves are withdrawn and there is strong opposition to the Framework Decision in the Swedish parliament, see: Sweden and Statewatch's critique of the proposal: Analysis

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