The European Parliament today adopted new EU legislation establishing the right of access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings, based on a final legislative agreement. After the vote, Green justice and home affairs spokesperson Jan Philipp Albrecht stated:
"This is a watershed moment for the establishment of basic legal rights across the EU. The right of access to a lawyer is a fundamental right and we must now build on this and ensure a consistent approach to legal rights in criminal proceedings across Europe. Crucially, the legislation includes provisions to ensure that basic juridical standards, like the right to a fair trial, are made binding and not simply left to the whims of member states.
"For years EU member states have simply placed blind faith in the ability of different jurisdictions to provide the same level of rights, despite the widely varying degrees of rights and protection offered to suspects and accused citizens in different member states. This legislation marks an important step towards common rights and standards, along the way towards a unified system. Further progress must now follow, particularly on legal aid. Without common standards guaranteeing a high level of rights, there can be no further deepening of cooperation between police and justice authorities in the EU."