On 10 March 2021, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) delivered a judgment in case C‑648/20 in a preliminary ruling procedure.

The procedure was initiated by the Westminster Magistrates’ Court (United Kingdom) that referred to the CJEU a question on the “effective judicial protection” afforded to a person subject to EAW issued by the Bulgarian prosecutor’s office.

The question “effective judicial protection” was raised by the UK authorities with regards to the provisions of the Bulgarian Criminal Procedure Code foreseeing that a national arrest warrant/decision on temporary detention and a decision to issue a European arrest warrant are both taken by a public prosecutor, without any involvement of a court prior to the surrender of the person.

Among the main points of the judgment of the CJEU is that the act of the prosecutor ordering the detention of the person subject to an EAW, on which the European arrest warrant is based, must be qualified as “an enforceable judicial act” with the same legal effect as a national arrest warrant. In this regard, the CJEU upheld its previous jurisprudence on “effective judicial protection” (C 414/20 PPU MM, C‑241/15 Bob-Dogi, C‑508/18 and C‑82/19 OG and PI) and concluded that the protection of the rights of the accused and defendants presupposes that judicial review may be exercised either in respect of the EAW or in respect of the judicial act on the basis of which this order was issued.

The decision of the Court was that the Bulgarian national criminal procedural rules do not meet the requirements in the effective judicial protection that must be afforded to a person who is the subject of a European arrest warrant for the purpose of criminal prosecution.