The European Commission today presented proposals to guarantee access to legal advice EU-wide (1). The proposals come in the context of growing concern about the European arrest warrant, which MEPs will debate with the European Commission later today (2). The Greens welcomed the new proposals on legal access but argued that more fundamental reform of the European arrest warrant is needed to address the serious concerns that persist.
Commenting on the proposals on legal access, Green home affairs expert Jan Philipp Albrecht said:
"Today's proposals on universal access to legal advice are certainly a welcome step to ensuring that the basic rights of all those facing trial are guaranteed uniformly across the EU. Clearly, access to legal advice should be a prerequisite for the application of the European arrest warrant but there are many other concerns that remain. The Commission needs to take swift steps to address the excessive use of the arrest warrant or else the continued application of the entire instrument must be called into question."
Commenting on the need to reform the European arrest warrant, Green civil liberties spokesperson Judith Sargentini added:
"There is clear evidence that the European arrest warrant is being disproportionately used by some member states, with scant regard for human or financial costs. The Greens believe there is a need to take legislative steps to prevent this misuse and are calling on the Commission to come forward with proposals as soon as possible. There is also a need to address the sub-par prison standards in many member states in the context of the arrest warrant, which implies establishing common standards on prison conditions across Europe."
(1) European Commission proposals available at: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/11/689&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
(2) The European Parliament will debate the European arrest warrant with EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding at 15.30.