Remarks of the Attorney General
For the EU/US Extradition and MLA Treaties Signing Ceremonies
June 25, 2003
(Note: The Attorney General often deviates from prepared remarks.)
We sign today the first treaties ever agreed between the United States and the European Union as a whole.
In the months since September 11, our law enforcement partners in E.U. member states have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us in the fight against international terrorism. These two treaties represent only the most recent steps we have taken to strengthen our close law enforcement relationships. The treaties, one dealing with extradition and the other with mutual legal assistance, will give us additional tools to combat terrorism, organized crime, and other serious forms of criminality.
Let me note only a few examples. The mutual legal assistance treaty provides for the formation of joint investigative teams, the use of video-technology for taking testimony, and the provision of information regarding suspect bank accounts. The extradition treaty updates the oldest treaties in force between the U.S. and E.U. member states, which currently permit extradition for only a limited range of listed offenses; henceforth, extradition will be available for a broad range of serious offenses punishable under both states' laws.
Significantly, these treaties have accomplished these goals, not by supplanting our existing bilateral relationships, but by building upon and supplementing them. Thus, they modernize, but do not replace, the bilateral arrangements now in place.
It is equally significant that these treaties recognize that the U.S. and E.U. member states are sovereign nations, with different legal systems. Our legal systems, of course, do not agree on all points, and the treaties take this into account.
But these agreements focus not on our differences, but our common values. They are deeply emblematic of the good will between the U.S. and E.U. that enabled us to maintain our focus on enhancing cooperation in the face of common threats, not allowing differences in our legal systems to thwart our abilities to cooperate. Both sides worked with great diligence and tenacity to reach this result; the constructiveness and spirit of compromise exhibited in the course of the negotiations was instrumental in reaching a successful conclusion.
I wish, therefore, to commend the expert negotiators for their tireless efforts in this regard. I also wish to express my appreciation to the leadership on the European side of the Belgian and Spanish E.U. presidencies, which made great efforts towards the launching of the negotiations, and the Danish and Greek presidencies, which brought them through to this successful conclusion.
Of course, work remains to be done before the agreements can be applied in practice by our police and prosecutors. I commit the United States to working closely with the incoming Italian E.U. presidency to conclude the bilateral implementing instruments foreseen under the agreements, and to obtain Senate advice and consent to ratification at the earliest possible time so that the agreements can be brought into effect.
As these agreements so clearly demonstrate, it is indisputable that the United States and E.U. member states share far more in terms of values, legal traditions and world-view than we have differences between us. As long as we bear this in mind, we will prevail over those who would seek to weaken the links between us. Today's agreements demonstrate in the clearest terms our common desire to provide our citizens with the greatest possible security.
Thank you, and may God bless all our nations.
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