FECL 27 (September 1994):


The German presidency of the EU is pressing hard for more powerful common structures in the field of crime repression.
Germany is unhappy with the currently slow pace in setting up Europol and is demanding a stronger role for the agency. But a number of EU-member states are hesitating to support the German agenda.

The German presidency of the EU has put the fight against trafficking of nuclear materials at the head of the agenda of no less than three meetings of the 12 Justice and Interior Ministers of the EU. Recent allegations that Russian Mafia groups might be involved in trafficking of nuclear materials are seen as an opportunity by the German government to once again emphasise the need of a European police structure with its own executive powers and a right to deal with a broad range of criminality.

For the time being, Europol's only working unit, the Europol Drug Unit (EDU), is limited to the role of information exchange and assistance to national police forces and may deal only with drug related crime.

Though the Europol-EDU is already at work at its new office in The Hague, there is still no legal basis for this police co-operation. Work on a Europol Convention is progressing slower than expected.

Due to strong disagreement between the EU-member states the convention is unlikely to be drawn up by October as originally planned.

A German proposal aiming to facilitate the extradition of persons suspected of a crime within the EU is also to be discussed by the ministers. The key idea in the proposal is that all EU-member states shall agree to extradite both non-nationals and their own nationals to the EU-member country where the crime was committed.

Such agreements already exist between the Nordic countries. Yet, the Danish government is believed to be very doubtful about the prospect of having to hand over Danish citizens to the judiciary of certain EU-member states such as Spain, Greece and Italy, thereby exposing them to the hazards of prosecution and sentencing systems not considered to meet with Nordic standards.

Other EU-member states appear to be hesitating about the issue mainly on the grounds that their constitutions prohibit the extradition of their own citizens to another country for pro-secution purposes. In some countries, such as, for example, Greece, the extradition of any person - foreigner or not - suspected of a political crime is prohibited by law and the 12 EU-member states have so far failed to agree on a common definition of political crimes.


Source: Politiken, 30.8.94