New agreements regarding extradition and mutual legal assistance between the European Union (EU) and the United States enter into force today, the Department of Justice announced. The agreements represent a milestone in cooperation on criminal matters between the EU, along with its Member States, and the United States. The agreements will further strengthen common efforts in the fight against terrorism and transnational crime by enabling the use of modern tools of cooperation between U.S. and EU Member States’ authorities.
The negotiations for the agreements were initiated following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as a means to improve the cooperation in criminal matters between the EU Member States and the United States. In addition to the two overarching agreements with the EU, the United States and each of the EU Member States have either entered into new agreements or adopted changes to current extradition and mutual legal assistance agreements to meet the new requirements. In total, 56 new treaties were negotiated, and the U.S. Senate gave advice and consent to them in fall 2008. After EU Member States completed their ratifications, Attorney General Eric Holder and the Swedish Minister of Justice Beatrice Ask, representing the Swedish Presidency of the EU, exchanged the instruments of ratification on behalf of the United States and the EU, respectively, at the U.S. and EU Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial meeting in Washington on Oct. 28, 2009. The agreements, by their terms, enter into force today.
The agreement on extradition, among other things: replaces lists of offenses that are deemed extraditable with a modern dual criminality standard; contains measures to streamline the exchange of information and transmission of documents; sets rules for determining priority in competing requests for surrender of a fugitive; and contains a provision allowing extradition to be conditioned on non-application of the death penalty.
The agreement on mutual legal assistance enhances and modernizes law enforcement and judicial cooperation by, among other things allowing prompt identification of financial account information in criminal investigations; permitting the acquisition of evidence, including testimony, by means of video conferencing; and authorizing the participation of U.S. criminal investigators and prosecutors in joint investigative teams in the EU.