Key facts of the case:
Reference for a preliminary ruling — Police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters — Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA — European arrest warrant — Surrender procedures between Member States — Grounds for mandatory non-execution — Article 3(3) — Minors — Requirement to verify the minimum age at which a minor may be regarded as criminally responsible or assessment, in each individual case, of the additional conditions laid down by the law of the executing Member State in order specifically to prosecute or convict a minor.
Outcome of the case:
On those grounds, the Court (Grand Chamber) hereby rules:
6) Directive (EU) 2016/800 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on procedural safeguards for children who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings (OJ 2016 L 132, p. 1) (‘Directive 2016/800’) states in recital 8 thereof as follows:
‘Where children are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings or are subject to European arrest warrant proceedings pursuant to … Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA (requested persons), Member States should ensure that the child’s best interests are always a primary consideration, in accordance with Article 24(2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (the Charter).’
36) Indeed, it should be noted in that regard that, in order in particular to promote respect for the fundamental rights of minors guaranteed by the Charter and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, signed in Rome on 4 November 1950, Directive 2016/800 lays down, as is apparent from Article 1(b) thereof, common minimum rules concerning, inter alia, the protection of the procedural rights of children, that is persons under 18 years of age, who are subject to European arrest warrant proceedings pursuant to Framework Decision 2002/584. In particular, Article 17 of that directive provides that various rights enjoyed by children who are suspects or accused persons in national criminal proceedings must apply mutatis mutandis in respect of children who are the subject of such an arrest warrant upon their arrest in the executing Member State.
37) Those provisions of Directive 2016/800 confirm that EU law, in particular Framework Decision 2002/584, does not, in principle, prohibit the executing judicial authorities from surrendering minors who have reached the age of criminal responsibility in the executing Member State. Nevertheless, that directive requires such authorities to satisfy themselves, when implementing the framework decision, that such minors have the benefit of certain specific procedural rights guaranteed in national criminal proceedings, in order to ensure that, as stated in recital 8 of that directive, the best interests of a child who is the subject of a European arrest warrant are always a primary consideration, in accordance with Article 24(2) of the Charter.
49) Admittedly, the Court has previously accepted that exceptions may be made to the principles of mutual recognition and mutual trust between Member States in exceptional circumstances. Moreover, as is apparent from Article 1(3) of Framework Decision 2002/584, that decision cannot have the effect of modifying the obligation to respect fundamental rights, as enshrined in, inter alia, the Charter (see, to that effect, judgment of 5 April 2016, Aranyosi and Căldăraru, C‑404/15 and C‑659/15 PPU, EU:C:2016:198, paragraphs 82 and 83), and, in the present case, in particular, in Article 24 of the Charter, concerning the rights of children, which Member States are required to observe when implementing the framework decision.