[JURIST] US Attorney General Eric Holder [official profile] on Wednesday announced [press release] an international criminal treaty with the European Union (EU) that will greatly increase cooperation between the two governments. Among the provisions in the "Washington Statement," or "Washington Declaration," was continued cooperation in fighting the trafficking of humans and illegal drugs. One of the more controversial aspects of the treaty is that it will reportedly allow the EU to refuse to extradite criminals to the US who would face the death penalty here [EU Observer report]. A key provision, simplifying travel between the US and EU, was not included in this agreement, but both governments pledged to work [joint statement, PDF] to lessen travel restrictions, acknowledging the "social and economic benefits to EU and US citizens from visa-free travel in a secure environment between our two continents." The EU was represented at the negotiations by Swedish Minister for Justice Beatrice Ask and Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy Tobias Billstrom, who released a statement [text] touting the benefits of the treaty, including protection of personal privacy. The provisions of the treaty will take effect in February [CN report].
This new treaty is the most recent effort to improve cooperation in tracking criminals between the US and the European continent. In September, the US and Switzerland agreed to share information [JURIST report] about individuals who evade taxes. In August, the two countries signed an agreement whereby Switzerland would grant the US access to certain anonymous accounts [JURIST report] in exchange for a US pledge to cease unilateral efforts to uncover account holders' identification.