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One of the responsibilities of Eurojust, the EU agency established in The Hague to help with criminal prosecutions involving two or more EU states is to mediate when the much-maligned European Arrest Warrant (EAW) causes problems, writes Stephen Gardner.
As it increasingly does. Eurojust's recently published annual report shows it was required to intervene in 256 EAW disputes in 2009, up from 237 in 2008. Many EU countries are openly sceptical about the warrant, with some being "reluctant to surrender their own nationals to other EU member states," according to the report. Britain is the country that most often requests Eurojust's intervention.

The list of EAW "issues" identified by Eurojust is long: from its use for trivial offences, to translation problems and misunderstandings, to different takes on defendants' rights. As Eurocorrespondent has noted before, even the European Commission has reservations about the EAW, which has led to a number of people being taken off to foreign jails to await trial in cases where the evidence is scant at best.

But fear not! The European Parliament recently approved legislation that, while not dealing with the basic failings of the EAW, will at least add to their cost by giving defendants the right to have the accusations against them delivered in a language they can understand, and to have relevant documents translated. So that's alright then.

A version of this article originally appeared in Private Eye.
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