14 Colum. J. Eur. L. 169 (2007 – 2008)

Christine Janssens, Ph.D candidate, Fund for the Scientific Research Flanders, University of Antwerp. The author would like to thank Tim Corthaut for the useful thoughts and comments he expressed on a previous draft. Any error or omission is, of course, entirely due to the author.

On May 3, 2007, the European Court of Justice (hereinafter “ECJ”) handed down its long-awaited judgment on the European Arrest Warrant (hereinafter “EAW”). Expectations ran high, as the validity of the Union’s pioneering instrument on extradition was at stake. The Framework Decision on the EAW (hereinafter “FD EAW”) was the first instrument at EU level that incorporated the principle of mutual recognition into criminal matters. This principle was established at the European Council of Tampere in 1998 as the new cornerstone of judicial cooperation in both civil and criminal matters.

This new extradition tool was negotiated and adopted in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and was a further step in the integration of criminal matters within the EU. Heavily applauded by some and harshly criticized by others, the EAW was particularly controversial due to its partial abolishment of the double criminality requirement with respect to 32 enumerated crimes. Under the prior extradition regime, the double criminality requirement allowed states to refuse extradition whenever the accused party’s conduct did not constitute an offense under the criminal laws of both the executing and requesting states. This requirement is substantially curtailed under the new EAW regime. Indeed, for the 32 listed offenses, the double criminality requirement can no longer be verified. This controversial issue became one ojf the crucial elements under discussion in the Advocaten voor de wereld judgment.