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EU justice chief calls for stronger powers on law enforcement, criminal matters

[JURIST] Franco Frattini [official website], the EU commissioner for justice, freedom and security, has proposed [press release] that national governments of EU member states shift regulation of law enforcement cooperation, cross-border policing and basic rights for criminal suspects to the European level. Referencing the "bridging" clause found in Article 42 [text] of the EU Treaty, Frattini said that EU member states should give up their national vetoes on matters of police and judicial cooperation, and instead approve EU measures in these areas by qualified majority while allowing the European Parliament [official website] to take a greater role in the decision-making process. Frattini wants to end a stalemate between European governments [Parliament Magazine report, PDF] caused by the need to vote unanimously on such areas as pan-European investigations when in hot pursuit of criminals and the rights of foreign criminal suspects. Under the current system, most EU criminal justice measures require all 25 member states to agree and the European Parliament plays only an advisory role. Frattini's proposals also give the European Court of Justice [official website] a higher role in settling asylum, immigration and visa cases.

While unveiling the European Commission's proposal Wednesday, Frattini also commended the European Arrest Warrant [EU summary], which allows the judiciary in one country to order the police in another to make an arrest and puts the suspect on a "fast-track" to extradition. After last year's London bombings [JURIST news archive] a suspect fled to Rome and was promptly extradited to the UK in 42 days [JURIST report], instead of the typical 15 months normally required for extradition proceedings. AKI has more. EUObserver.com has additional coverage.

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