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EU member states should be held accountable when they break promises in extradition cases

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In my new report, Not worth the paper they’re written on: The unreliability of assurances in extradition cases, published last week by campaign group Due Process, I explain that promises given by requesting authorities in European Arrest Warrant cases cannot and should not always be trusted, writes Emily Barley.

In April 2016 the European Court of Justice decided that in order to prevent extradition, evidence of the likelihood that the human rights of the accused would be violated needed to be specific and substantial – meaning that extraditions to countries with serious, systemic problems leading to large numbers of human rights violations could continue where ‘assurances’ were given to guarantee the person in question would be treated properly.

Since then the use of assurances in EAW cases has increased, with promises given over things like prison conditions, fair trials, medical care, and other concerns relevant in the individual cases.

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However, this system is not fit for purpose. The promises made by requesting authorities are frequently broken, and the full extent of the problem is not known because the UK has no monitoring system in place – despite a House of Lords committee calling for monitoring back in 2015.

Experts including extradition lawyer Ben Keith have pointed out the fundamental flaw in the system of assurances: whatever promises requesting authorities may make, they are unable to change the physical situation in prisons that leads to human rights abuses.

And it’s not always a matter of circumstances overriding good intentions – some EU member states have told outright lies too. The Romanian justice minister in 2016 admitted that she had lied about a €1 billion prison building programme which would have substantially improved the dire state of the country’s prisons. "We do not have the money in the budget," she eventually confessed. Horrific overcrowding, dirty, rat and bug infested conditions, poor or no access to hygiene facilities, and lack of medical care continues to be the standard state of affairs in Romanian prisons.

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Romania, of course, has become famous in the UK for its corrupt pursuit of London resident Alexander Adamescu under a politically motivated EAW. Adamescu has almost exhausted the limited appeals process allowed within the EAW system, and is now hoping British Home Secretary Priti Patel will intervene in the case.

In this context, what is to be done about the broken system of assurances? My conclusion is simple: requesting authorities must be held accountable when they break their promises. Where previous assurances have not been complied with, extraditions should be halted. Where there are substantial, systemic problems causing the violation of human rights, extraditions should be halted. This is the only way EU member states can ensure they avoid becoming complicit with violations and fulfil their moral and legal human rights obligations.

In order to facilitate this kind of accountability, a system of monitoring should be established. And, finally, the UK should use the opportunity of Brexit to rethink extraditions and shift to a more cautious system that offers greater protections for human rights.

European Commission

NextGenerationEU: European Commission disburses €231 million in pre-financing to Slovenia

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The European Commission has disbursed €231 million to Slovenia in pre-financing, equivalent to 13% of the country's grant allocation under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The pre-financing payment will help to kick-start the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Slovenia's recovery and resilience plan. The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the implementation of the investments and reforms outlined in Slovenia's recovery and resilience plan.

The country is set to receive €2.5 billion in total, consisting of €1.8bn in grants and €705m in loans, over the lifetime of its plan. Today's disbursement follows the recent successful implementation of the first borrowing operations under NextGenerationEU. By the end of the year, the Commission intends to raise up to a total of €80 billion in long-term funding, to be complemented by short-term EU-Bills, to fund the first planned disbursements to member states under NextGenerationEU.

The RRF is at the heart of NextGenerationEU which will provide €800bn (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across member states. The Slovenian plan is part of the unprecedented EU response to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, fostering the green and digital transitions and strengthening resilience and cohesion in our societies. A press release is available online.

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Cyprus

NextGenerationEU: European Commission disburses €157 million in pre-financing to Cyprus

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The European Commission has disbursed €157 million to Cyprus in pre-financing, equivalent to 13% of the country's financial allocation under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The pre-financing payment will help to kick-start the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Cyprus' recovery and resilience plan. The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the implementation of the investments and reforms outlined in Cyprus' recovery and resilience plan.

The country is set to receive €1.2 billion in total over the lifetime of its plan, with €1 billion provided in grants and €200m in loans. Today's disbursement follows the recent successful implementation of the first borrowing operations under NextGenerationEU. By the end of the year, the Commission intends to raise up to a total of €80bn in long-term funding, to be complemented by short-term EU-Bills, to fund the first planned disbursements to member states under NextGenerationEU. Part of NextGenerationEU, the RRF will provide €723.8bn (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across member states.

The Cypriot plan is part of the unprecedented EU response to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, fostering the green and digital transitions and strengthening resilience and cohesion in our societies. A press release is available online.

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Belgium

EU Cohesion policy: Belgium, Germany, Spain and Italy receive €373 million to support health and social services, SMEs and social inclusion

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The Commission has granted €373 million to five European Social Fund (ESF) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) operational programmes (OPs) in Belgium, Germany, Spain and Italy to help the countries with coronavirus emergency response and repair in the framework of REACT-EU. In Belgium, the modification of the Wallonia OP will make available an additional €64.8m for the acquisition of medical equipment for health services and innovation.

The funds will support small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in developing e-commerce, cybersecurity, websites and online stores, as well as the regional green economy through energy efficiency, protection of the environment, development of smart cities and low-carbon public infrastructures. In Germany, in the Federal State of Hessen, €55.4m will support health-related research infrastructure, diagnostic capacity and innovation in universities and other research institutions as well as research, development and innovation investments in the fields of climate and sustainable development. This amendment will also provide support to SMEs and funds for start-ups through an investment fund.

In Sachsen-Anhalt, €75.7m will facilitate cooperation of SMEs and institutions in research, development and innovation, and provide investments and working capital for micro-enterprises affected by the coronavirus crisis. Moreover, the funds will allow investments in the energy efficiency of enterprises, support digital innovation in SMEs and acquiring digital equipment for schools and cultural institutions. In Italy, the national OP ‘Social Inclusion' will receive €90m to promote the social integration of people experiencing severe material deprivation, homelessness or extreme marginalisation, through ‘Housing First' services that combine the provision of immediate housing with enabling social and employment services.

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In Spain, €87m will be added to the ESF OP for Castilla y León to support the self-employed and workers who had their contracts suspended or reduced due to the crisis. The money will also help hard-hit companies avoid layoffs, especially in the tourism sector. Finally, the funds are needed to allow essential social services to continue in a safe way and to ensure educational continuity throughout the pandemic by hiring additional staff.

REACT-EU is part of NextGenerationEU and provides €50.6bn additional funding (in current prices) to Cohesion policy programmes over the course of 2021 and 2022. Measures focus on supporting labour market resilience, jobs, SMEs and low-income families, as well as setting future-proof foundations for the green and digital transitions and a sustainable socio-economic recovery.

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