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Homeland Security

Washington File

25 June 2003

Ashcroft Hails New U.S.-EU Legal Treaties

(Signing ceremony at Justice Department June 25; part of U.S.-EU
Summit) (830)
The United States and the European Union signed extradition and mutual
legal assistance agreements June 25 that will provide "additional
tools to combat terrorism, organized crime, and other serious forms of
criminality," U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said at the signing
ceremony.
Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, "our law enforcement
partners in E.U. member states have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us
in the fight against international terrorism," Ashcroft said. "These
two treaties represent only the most recent steps we have taken to
strengthen our close law enforcement relationships."
The U.S. and EU legal systems, he said, "do not agree on all points,
and the treaties take this into account....The United States and E.U.
member states share far more in terms of values, legal traditions and
world-view than we have differences between us. As long as we bear
this in mind, we will prevail over those who would seek to weaken the
links between us."
In addition to Ashcroft, the treaties were signed by Greek Minister of
Justice Philippos Petsalnikos, representing the EU Council of
Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs. The signing coincided with the
June 25 U.S.-EU Summit being held in Washington.
Following is Ashcroft's prepared statement:
(begin text)
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, D.C.
PREPARED REMARKS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
FOR THE EU/U.S. EXTRADITION AND MLA TREATIES SIGNING CEREMONIES
June 25, 2003
(Note: The Attorney General often deviates from prepared remarks.)
We sign today the first treaties ever agreed between the United States
and the European Union as a whole.
In the months since September 11, our law enforcement partners in E.U.
member states have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us in the fight
against international terrorism. These two treaties represent only the
most recent steps we have taken to strengthen our close law
enforcement relationships. The treaties, one dealing with extradition
and the other with mutual legal assistance, will give us additional
tools to combat terrorism, organized crime, and other serious forms of
criminality.
Let me note only a few examples. The mutual legal assistance treaty
provides for the formation of joint investigative teams, the use of
video-technology for taking testimony, and the provision of
information regarding suspect bank accounts. The extradition treaty
updates the oldest treaties in force between the U.S. and E.U. member
states, which currently permit extradition for only a limited range of
listed offenses; henceforth, extradition will be available for a broad
range of serious offenses punishable under both states' laws.
Significantly, these treaties have accomplished these goals, not by
supplanting our existing bilateral relationships, but by building upon
and supplementing them. Thus, they modernize, but do not replace, the
bilateral arrangements now in place.
It is equally significant that these treaties recognize that the U.S.
and E.U. member states are sovereign nations, with different legal
systems. Our legal systems, of course, do not agree on all points, and
the treaties take this into account.
But these agreements focus not on our differences, but our common
values. They are deeply emblematic of the good will between the U.S.
and E.U. that enabled us to maintain our focus on enhancing
cooperation in the face of common threats, not allowing differences in
our legal systems to thwart our abilities to cooperate. Both sides
worked with great diligence and tenacity to reach this result; the
constructiveness and spirit of compromise exhibited in the course of
the negotiations was instrumental in reaching a successful conclusion.
I wish, therefore, to commend the expert negotiators for their
tireless efforts in this regard. I also wish to express my
appreciation to the leadership on the European side of the Belgian and
Spanish E.U. presidencies, which made great efforts towards the
launching of the negotiations, and the Danish and Greek presidencies,
which brought them through to this successful conclusion.
Of course, work remains to be done before the agreements can be
applied in practice by our police and prosecutors. I commit the United
States to working closely with the incoming Italian E.U. presidency to
conclude the bilateral implementing instruments foreseen under the
agreements, and to obtain Senate advice and consent to ratification at
the earliest possible time so that the agreements can be brought into
effect.
As these agreements so clearly demonstrate, it is indisputable that
the United States and E.U. member states share far more in terms of
values, legal traditions and world-view than we have differences
between us. As long as we bear this in mind, we will prevail over
those who would seek to weaken the links between us. Today's
agreements demonstrate in the clearest terms our common desire to
provide our citizens with the greatest possible security.
Thank you, and may God bless all our nations.
(end text)
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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