The European Arrest Warrant

The European Arrest Warrant (EAW) is the key mutual recognition initiative in criminal law. Entering into force on 1 January 2004, it replaced the traditional extradition system within the EU with an arrest warrant, valid for the entire territory of the EU, which can be issued by Member State authorities. In general, a test of “dual criminality”, namely that the act to which the warrant relates is an offence in both the issuing and executing states, is required, although for a list of thirty-two offences no such test is necessary.

The ECBA has followed the development of this instrument, and has made submissions and representations about the problems encountered by the accused and defendants faced with such proceedings, in particular access to legal advice in both the issuing and executing states.

The framework decision was adopted in haste following the events of 9/11 as an essential tool to tackle terrorism, however there have been concerns about the lack of procedural safeguards in the new system. In the meantime, the procedural rights’ Directives have introduced some balance in this regard, but we are still in a first stage of their practical implementation. Therefore it is too early to say whether the law in action corresponds to the law in books.

Do not hesitate to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. about your experience with the implementation of these Directives in the Scope of the EAW, in particular:

The key work the ECBA has conducted in this area includes:

1. ECBA Handbook on the EAW for Defence Lawyers – following the recommendations of the 2012 study, the ECBA, with contribution from JUSTICE, has produced a Handbook for practitioners on how to defend an EAW. The General Part on EU Law is available on-line on a dedicated website and also as a downloadable PDF 
2. Partnership with EIPA Luxembourg - European Centre for Judges and Lawyers (ECJL) Training Intersections of the Application of the European Arrest Warrant and the Protection of Fundamental Rights
3. Partnership with the Academy of European Law / Europäische Rechtsakademie (ERA) Training EU Criminal Law for Defence Counsel – Focus on the European Arrest Warrant, partly funded by the European Commission
4. Study “European Arrest Warrants - Ensuring and Effective Defence” - joint ECBA, JUSTICE and ICJ study and partly funded by the European Commission – the report was published in 2012 and was the culmination of a two year study reviewing defence of EAW's in practice in ten EU member states.
5. E-Learning Course for Academy of European Law / Europäische Rechtsakademie (ERA) The European Arrest Warrant: 10 Key Questions for Defence Counsel
6. Attending expert meetings, providing information about problems encountered by defence lawyers and campaigning for procedural safeguards to protect the rights of citizens throughout the EU
7. The European Arrest Warrant Project Website – providing practical information to defence lawyers and the public about the adoption of the framework decision in each member state and as a resource of case law.

If you are interested in becoming involved in this Project and/or Working Group please contact the secretariat This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


The ECBA is very pleased to announce that a ECBA Handbook on the EAW has been published on the following website:

Read the EAW Handbook


 On 2 July 2020, the European Commission published a report assessing the transposition of the European arrest warrant in 27 Member States and the UK from 2004 until now. According to the Commission, the general assessment demonstrates that the European Arrest Warrant remains an essential tool in the area of judicial cooperation in criminal matters. However, the assessment of national implementing measures also revealed a number of compliance issues. This concerns in particular additional grounds for refusal and non-observation of time limits. Unless remedied, such deficiencies may limit the effectiveness of the European arrest warrant.

The report shows that some Member States have not yet modified their legislation to comply with a series of judgments of the Court of Justice, which aim to clarify the functioning of the European arrest warrant. The number of preliminary references to the Court of Justice on the European arrest warrant has rapidly increased over the last years, from 12 in 2014 to more than 50 by the mid-2020. This is due to the lifting, on 1 December 2014, of the limitations of the judicial control by the Court of Justice in the area of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, as previously laid down in the Maastricht Treaty.

In addition to this report, the European Commission also published key statistics on the EAW for 2018. With 17,471 warrants issued in 2018 in 27 Member States, the figure is close to the figure for 2017 when 17,491 warrants were issued in 28 Member States. In 2018, almost 7,000 requested persons were surrendered across borders. Overall, since 2005, 185,575 European Arrest Warrants were issued and 56,298 of these were executed according to the report. As in previous years, the most commonly identified categories were theft offences and criminal damage (2893 European arrest warrants), fraud and corruption offences (1739) and drug offences (1610). From the arrest to the decision on surrender, it takes on average 16 days when the person consents to their surrender and 45 days when the person does not consent.

See, for further information,