Case C-66/08, Kozłowski

In 2002, Mr Kozłowski was sentenced in Poland to five months’ imprisonment. The sentence imposed by that judgment had become final, but had not yet been executed. Since May 10, 2006, Kozłowski had been imprisoned in Stuttgart (Germany).

The Polish judicial authority issued a European arrest warrant issued on April 18, 2007, asking the surrender of Mr Kozłowski for the purposes of execution of the sentence of imprisonment of five months imposed on him.

The German executing judicial authority requested the referring court to authorise the execution of this European arrest warrant in question on the ground there was no ground for non-execution and, in particular, Mr Kozłowski did not have his habitual residence in Germany.

The referring court asked the European Court of Justice two preliminary questions regarding the scope of the terms “resident” and “staying” contained in Article 4(6) of Framework Decision 2002/584 on the European arrest warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States.

The Court of Justice first of all reiterated its statement in the famous Advocaten voor de Wereld case that the objective of the Framework Decision was to replace the multilateral system of extradition between Member States by a system of surrender, as between judicial authorities, of convicted persons or suspects for the purpose of enforcing judgments or of criminal proceedings, that system of surrender being based on the principle of mutual recognition.

The Court stressed the importance of giving an uniform interpretation of these terms. It held that they concerned autonomous concepts of Union law and that, therefore, in their national law transposing Art. 4(6), the Member States were not entitled to give those terms a broader meaning than that which derived from such a uniform interpretation. Mr Kozłowski was not “resident” in Germany within the meaning of Art. 4(6) of the Framework Decision, therefore, the Court of Justice only discussed the scope of the term “staying” contained in that provision.

The Court of Justice held that, in order to determine whether, in a specific situation, there were connections between the requested person and the executing Member State which led to the conclusion that that person was covered by the term “staying” within the meaning of Art. 4(6) of the Framework Decision, it was necessary to make an overall assessment of various objective factors characterising the situation of that person, which included, in particular, the length, nature and conditions of his presence and the family and economic connections which he had with the executing Member State.

Since it was for the executing judicial authority to make an overall assessment in order to determine, initially, whether the person concerned fell within Art. 4(6) of the Framework Decision, a single factor characterising the person concerned could not, in principle, had a conclusive effect of itself.
The Court of Justice subsequently articulated some of the factors which could be taken into account when making such assessment.

It stated that the fact that the requested person’s stay in the executing Member State was not uninterrupted and the fact that his stay in that State did not comply with the national legislation on residence of foreign nationals, while not constituting factors which led by themselves to the conclusion that he was not “staying” in that Member State within the meaning of Art. 4(6) of the Framework Decision, could be of relevance to the executing judicial authority when it was called upon to assess whether the person concerned was covered by that provision.

The fact that that person systematically committed crimes in the executing Member State and the fact that he was in detention there serving a custodial sentence were not relevant factors for the executing judicial authority when it initially had to ascertain whether the person concerned was “staying” within the meaning of Art. 4(6) of the Framework Decision. By contrast, such factors might, supposing that the person concerned was “staying” in the executing Member State, be of some relevance for the assessment which the executing judicial authority was then called upon to carry out in order to decide whether there were grounds for not implementing a European arrest warrant.

In the light of various factors referred to by the national court as characterising the situation of a person such as Mr Kozłowski, in particular the length, nature and conditions of his stay, the absence of family ties and his very weak economic connections with the executing Member State, Mr Kozłowski not be regarded as covered by the term “staying” within the meaning of Art. 4(6) of the Framework Decision.

Text of Judgment