The growing uncertainty of the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union following Brexit expands to issues of judicial cooperation between EU Member States and the UK, something which the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) has recently been called on to address. The Council Framework decision 2002/584/JH introduced the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) regime, setting out the extradition procedures between Member States, which has significantly shaped the domestic legal framework of the extradition process and obligations in the UK. The EAW regime has to date been a tool of crucial importance for law enforcement, harmonising extradition rules across the EU, something which can be in serious jeopardy in the event of a no-deal Brexit, or similarly in the event of a transitional arrangement failing to extend the status quo in relation to the EAW.
The CJEU, in the Case of RO (Case C‑327/18 PPU of 19 September 2018), has ruled that the UK notification under Article 50 of the Treaty on the EU is not to be perceived as a reason for the suspension of the application of EU law within the UK, therefore rendering the refusal to surrender a person subject to a EAW unlawful. EU Member States are however under an obligation to ensure that the execution of a EAW does not pose a threat to the person’s rights under the existing regime and that the person in question is not made subject to inhuman or degrading treatment, which is in line with requirements imposed by the European Convention of Human Rights.
The UK’s Extradition Act 2003 sets out the basis, procedure and obligations on extradition, closely associated with the EAW regime, which in the event of a no-deal Brexit will no longer be of relevance. The EU Member States’ law enforcement bodies will be faced with a gap between the moment the EAW regime ceases to apply in the UK until the point that a suitable alternative is established, which could potentially have a detrimental effect to the currently harmonised extradition regime across the EU.
The relevant press release of the CJEU can be found here.
The CJEU judgment of the RO case can be found here.