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European Arrest Warrant

Guidelines for deciding on competing requests for surrender and extradition

During transnational criminal investigations, different States will sometimes issue competing requests for surrender or extradition, such as the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), for the same person. To prevent such occurrences, and to help national authorities deal with competing requests when they do occur, Eurojust has published a set of guidelines: Guidelines for deciding on competing requests for surrender and extradition.

The Guidelines, which have been expanded and updated in 2019, are a flexible tool to guide and remind competent authorities in the Member States of the different factors to consider when deciding which request to execute, as well as the support Eurojust can provide to authorities to resolve incidences of competing requests.

Article 16 of the Council Framework Decision on the EAW and the surrender procedure regulates the decision-making process for the executing judicial authority that receives multiple requests for surrender or extradition of the same person. To support practitioners in the event of multiple EAWs, in 2004, Eurojust published the Guidelines for Deciding on Competing EAWs. These Guidelines provided a shared starting point for reaching an informed decision without prejudice to applicable, national, EU and international law.

Eurojust has recently amended the Guidelines; the updated 2019 publication, Guidelines for deciding on competing requests for surrender and extradition, has a wider scope by including not only scenarios of competing EAWs, but also a scenario of a conflict between an EAW and an extradition request. The new Guidelines also further develop the factors to be used in the decision-making process for handling competing requests as well as the appropriate coordination and follow-up measures.

Main scenarios requiring decision-making on competing requests

The updated Guidelines distinguish different scenarios and suggest factors that must be given due consideration before the executing authority takes a decision on which request to execute. The Guidelines include the factors mentioned in Article 16 but complement and develop these factors further in light of different scenarios.

The (five) most common scenarios involving competing requests are:

  • Scenario 1: Two (or more) arrest warrants issued against the same person for purposes of prosecuting the same offence;
  • Scenario 2: Two (or more) arrest warrants issued against the same person for purposes of prosecution of two (or more) different offences;
  • Scenario 3: Two (or more) arrest warrants issued against the same person, one (or more) for purposes of prosecution of offences and one (or more) for purposes of execution of a custodial sentence or detention order.
  • Scenario 4: Two (or more) arrest warrants issued against the same person for purposes of execution of two (or more) custodial sentences or detention orders. Scenario 5: One or more EAW(s) and one (or more) request(s) for extradition.

The role of Eurojust in preventing and handling competing EAWs

The ultimate decision regarding competing EAWs is made by the competent national authorities of the executing Member State; however, early consultation and decisions made by the concerned national authorities are likely to produce a better outcome.

Through its coordinating and advisory role, Eurojust can avoid authorities issuing competing requests in cases already handled by Eurojust. Through effective and early coordination, the authorities may agree on the way forward together and thus ensure that parallel proceedings do not lead to the issuing of competing requests. Also in cases where two or more competing EAWs were issued, the coordinating and advisory role of Eurojust can assist the executing national authority in taking an informed decision on which request should be executed.

In the event competing requests for surrender or extradition are actually issued, national authorities are encouraged to consult Eurojust as soon as possible, to ensure efficient coordination among the involved authorities. Once consulted, the Eurojust National Desks of the Member States involved can immediately liaise with each other, and their respective competent authorities. All possible legal issues are duly examined, and Eurojust can support the national authorities in reaching a reasoned and informed decision on the competing requests, within the available time limits. As part of the decision-making process, Eurojust can issue a reasoned opinion advising the relevant authority on the execution of the competing requests.

In cases involving countries outside of the Member States, Eurojust can rely on its relationships of trust and cooperation, based on Cooperation Agreements concluded with specific third countries. Moreover, Liaison Prosecutors seconded to Eurojust provide a direct link to certain third-country partners.

The Guidelines for deciding on competing requests for surrender and extradition can be consulted in full via the following link.