On 23 January 2018, the Court of Justice (Grand Chamber) delivered its judgment in case C-367/16 on the ground for mandatory non-execution of a EAW provided for in Article 3(3) of the EAW Framework Decision.
This case relates to the execution in Belgium of a EAW issued by the Polish authorities against Mr Piotrowski, a Polish national resident in Belgium, for the purposes of execution of two prison sentences. In relation to one of the convictions on which the EAW is based, the competent Belgian investigating judge found that the arrest warrant could not be executed because Mr Piotrowski was a minor at the material time. The competent Belgian Public Prosecutor appealed against that order, as a minor over the age of sixteen may be the subject of a EAW issued by the Belgian authorities if the Juvenile Court has declined to hear the case, pursuant to the Belgian law on youth protection. In this context, the referring court, asks, in essence, whether a minor aged sixteen may or may not be surrendered in the execution of a EAW and, if need be, under which conditions.
The Court first considered that it is apparent from the wording of Article 3(3) of the EAW Framework Decision that the ground for non-execution laid down in that provision does not cover minors in general but refers only to those who have not reached the age required, under the law of the executing Member State, to be regarded as criminally responsible for the acts on which the warrant issued against them is based.
It inferred therefrom that the EU legislature intended to exclude from surrender not all minors but only those persons who, on account of their age, cannot be the subject of any criminal prosecution or conviction in the executing Member State in respect of the acts in question, giving that Member State, in the absence of harmonisation in this field, the discretion to determine the minimum age from which a person satisfies the requirements to be regarded as criminally responsible for such acts.
The Court therefore held that Article 3(3) of Framework Decision 2002/584 is to be interpreted as meaning that the executing judicial authority must refuse to surrender only those minors who are the subject of a EAW and who, under the law of the executing Member State, have not yet reached the age at which they are regarded as criminally responsible for the acts on which the warrant issued against them is based.
It also noted that it follows from the terms of that provision that, in order to refuse to surrender a minor who is the subject of a EAW, the executing judicial authority must simply satisfy itself that that person has not reached the minimum age at which he may be prosecuted and convicted under the law of the executing Member State for the same acts as those on which the EAW is based.
It therefore concluded that it is not possible under Article 3(3) of Framework Decision 2002/584 for the executing judicial authority also to consider, when deciding whether to surrender the person concerned, the additional conditions relating to an assessment based on the circumstances of the individual to which the law of its Member State specifically makes the prosecution and conviction of a minor subject, such as those laid down the Belgian law on youth protection. It is for the issuing judicial authority to apply the specific rules governing criminal-law penalties for offences committed by minors in its Member State.
Case Number C-367/16
Name of the parties Dawid Piotrowski
Date of the judgement 2018-01-23
Court Court of Justice (ECJ)
Uploads CURIA - Documents