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Germany / Federal Constitutional Court / 2 BvR 37/18

Romanian citizen v. Federal state of Schleswig-Holstein

Policy area:
Justice, freedom and security
Deciding Body type:
National Court/Tribunal
Deciding Body:
Federal Constitutional Court
Decision date:

Key facts of the case:

The plaintiff is a Romanian citizen who lodged a constitutional complaint against his extradiction to Romania because of the detention conditions in the  target country. The plantiff was arrested in Germany because of a European Arrest Warrant issued by a Romanian district court. By his constitutional complaint he challenged the extradition arrest order of the Higher Regional Court of the state of Schleswig-Holstein. The Higher Regional Court had found that the assurance of the Romanian authorities that the plaintiff would be detained in open or semi-open criminal detention providing at least 2 sqm space, including bed and furniture, meets the minimum requirements of the European Court of Justice (Aranyosi and C̆ald̆araru, C-404/15 und C-659/15, Judgment, 5 April 2016). Referring to jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights which has decided that prison cell space less than 3 sqm excluding bed and furniture does violate article 3 of the ECHR (Muršić v. Croatia, No. 7334/13, Judgement, 20 October 2016), the plaintiff argued that the detention conditions in Romania would violate article 4 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Key legal question raised by the Court:

The Federal Constitutional Court examined the question if the Higher Regional Court should have submitted the issue to the European Court of Justice in order to clarify which minimum requirements on detention conditions derive from article 4 of the Charter and how relevant the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights is for this question.

Outcome of the case:

The Federal Constitutional Court allowed the complaint. The court found that the Higher Regional Court was required to submit the issue to the European Court of Justice as the scope of protection by article 4 of the Charter was highly relevant for the case and no national remedy was available. By omitting to submit the issue to the CJEU the Higher Regional Court had violated the plaintiff’s right to a lawful judge as warranted by article 101 para. 1 of the German Basic Law. Unlike the Higher Regional Court, the Federal Constitutional Court argued that the ECJ did no finally decided on the minimum requirements for detention conditions under article 4 of the Charter. The Higher Regional Court failed to examine the relevant jurisprudence when concluding that the detention conditions in Romania would not violate EU law.