The European Union and motorsport's governing body, the FIA, appear to be on course for another war of words, this time over the implementation of the controversial European Arrest Warrant that could land race personnel in court in the event of a fatal accident.

Less than six months after the EU ended its investigation into the FIA's alleged monopoly over the sport, the pair look likely to clash over the EAW, which came into force from the beginning of the year and gives powers of extradition between member states. Britain, Belgium and Spain among grand prix hosts have already signed up to the agreement, with France, Germany and Italy likely to follow suit before the start of the F1 season.

With the threat of a boycott looming should F1 not be exempted from the legislation, the FIA has written to heads of sport in each member state asking for lenience when it comes to racing accidents, but the EU has responded to this action by saying that motorsport has no grounds on which to appeal.

"The FIA has woken up too late," said Pietro Petrucci, spokesman for European justice and home affairs commissioner Antonio Vitorino, "The search and arrest warrant was adopted in the middle of 2002. They have come to the European Commission after the final whistle. You cannot get into the game when the debate has already ended.

"We can't see why we should make an exception for Formula One. There are many risky professions - such as commercial airline pilots responsible for the lives of hundreds of people or captains of oil tankers liable for environmental damage - nobody is above the law. You have to trust the judicial system."

FIA president responded to the statement by claiming that no-one involved in F1 or other forms of motorsport believed themselves to be above the law, but pointed out that cracks may already be appearing in the EAW system.

"Mr Vitorino is clearly unaware that one EU government has already confirmed that the relevant provisions of the European Arrest Warrant do not apply to sport," he said in an official statement, "We anticipate that other EU governments will agree.

"No F1 team considers itself above the law, but they will not race where they do not feel safe. Mr Vitorino may not understand this, but those who apply EU laws obviously do."



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