Select Committee on European Union Thirty-First Report

FOREWORD—what this Report is about


It is estimated that at any one time some 4,500 EU nationals are held in custody in EU countries other than their normal country of residence.

Persons resident in the Member State where they are suspected of having committed a crime may be granted bail while suspects resident in another Member State may be remanded in custody because they are perceived to be more likely to abscond.

In the absence of an international instrument specifically enabling the transfer of bail from one Member State to another, these "foreigners" may be detained for many months pending the outcome of the criminal investigation or trial.

The Commission's proposal for a European supervision order (ESO) seeks to address this problem. It provides a mechanism under which a judicial authority in Member State A could impose a non-custodial supervision measure on the foreign suspect which would be recognised and enforced in Member State B where he is normally resident. The authorities in Member State B would supervise compliance with the order and would also be responsible for returning him for trial if he did not return on his own when summoned to do so by the trial State.

The ESO is a meritorious and welcome proposal. It addresses a serious issue affecting the liberty of the individual and has the potential to reduce hardship for some thousands of EU citizens.

However, a detailed examination of the draft Framework Decision shows that there are a number of places where the scheme as proposed by the Commission should be improved.

In this Report we examine the proposal in detail and consider how the ESO would work in practice. We propose a number of changes aimed at making the ESO sufficiently clear and secure as to command the confidence of prosecutors and judges in the trial State and to be workable in both States involved.

The proposal deserves prompt attention by Member States and it is regrettable that the Council of Ministers has yet to accord it any priority.

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