On Thursday 8 February, the House of Lords debates the EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee's report on the judicial oversight of the European Arrest Warrant after Brexit.
The European Arrest Warrant (EAW), adopted by the European Union to facilitate the extradition of individuals between Member States, has been described by the Home Secretary, Rt. Hon. Amber Rudd MP, as an "effective tool that is essential to the delivery of effective judgment on … murderers, rapists and paedophiles". The Government has stated that it is a priority "to ensure that we remain part of the arrangement". However, this aim is in tension with the Government's plans to remove the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in the UK.
The debate follows the publication of a report by the EU Home Affairs Committee which examines whether alternatives to the European Arrest Warrant are possible, and explores the options available for resolving disagreements between the UK and the EU in the absence of the Court of Justice.
The Committee's main conclusions included:
- The Government's intention is to remove the UK entirely from the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which performs oversight of the EAW. The Committee heard evidence that it does not seem at all clear how the UK will remain part of EAW arrangements if it is outside the European Union, with no jurisdiction for the CJEU.
- The most promising avenue for the Government to pursue could be to follow the precedent set by Norway and Iceland and seek a bilateral extradition agreement with the EU that mirrors the EAW's provisions as far as possible. This arrangement contains provisions for a political dispute resolution mechanism, which would be compatible with the Government's desire for a similar mechanism as it seeks to replace the Court of Justice. However, this agreement has taken years to negotiate and still has not come into effect.
- The Committee heard evidence that a "phased process of implementation", which the Government says it wants, is likely to mean accepting, at least in part, the jurisdiction of the CJEU. However, a transitional arrangement might be difficult to secure if the UK has left the EU and withdrawn from other EU-related arrangements such as the Charter of Fundamental Rights, EU data protection laws, and laws on EU citizenship, leaving the prospect of a cliff-edge scenario.
- If the UK fails to secure new extradition arrangements with the EU, the 'default' outcome would be to revert to the 1957 Council of Europe Convention on Extradition as the legal basis for extradition. The Committee heard evidence that this would be counterproductive and inefficient, and not an adequate substitute.
Speakers in the Debate
The Lord Jay of Ewelme, Chairman of the EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee, will open the debate on the report Brexit: judicial oversight of the European Arrest Warrant.
The Lord Young of Cookham, Lords Spokesperson at the Cabinet Office, will respond on behalf of the Government.
Other members of the House of Lords who are due to speak in the debate can be viewed on the Speakers' List.