US-EU Extradition and Mutual Assistance Agreements Are an Important Milestone

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Saturday, November 1, 2003
Bruce Zagaris
On July 19, 2003 the European Union published texts of EU-US agreements on extradition and mutual assistance, which were signed on June 25, 2003. The agreements that were signed in the context of counter-terrorism enforcement included Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (MLATs) and Extradition, and have implications for a broad range of subjects. MLATs generally facilitate cooperation on obtaining cross-border information and evidence in criminal matters. The new agreement extends the MLATs application from criminal matters to include threats to public security, clearly a reflection of new terrorist threats. The extradition agreement generally expedites the process, and should replace many bilateral agreements EU states had with the US. These agreements, which are modeled on those issued by other international bodies, should augment capacities to prosecute criminals. There is some concern on the part of U.S. officials that limitations in these agreements will influence existing bilateral agreements with countries outside of Europe.