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Publication date:27 September 2019

Rights in practice: access to a lawyer and procedural rights in criminal and European arrest warrant proceedings

Protecting the rights of anyone suspected or accused of a crime is an essential element of the rule of law. Courts, prosecutors and police officers need certain powers to enforce the law – but trust in the outcomes of their efforts will quickly erode without effective safeguards. Such safeguards take on various forms, and include the right to certain information and to a lawyer.


The project will assess the practical application at national level of the procedural rights of defendants and those requested under the European Arrest Warrant. This will look at the impact of measures implementing the EU Roadmap to strengthen procedural rights of suspected or accused people in criminal proceedings. It will give special consideration to the right of access to a lawyer of suspected and accused persons in criminal proceedings (Directive 2013/48/EU), and the rights of persons requested under European arrest warrant proceedings.


The FRA initiated a research project at the request of the European Commission. The project will provide information on the factual realization of rights of defendants in criminal proceedings and of requested persons under the European Arrest Warrant, including their right to have access to a lawyer. Its aim is to contribute to the efficiency of justice and improve judicial cooperation based on mutual trust between EU Member States, by ensuring that the necessary level of protection of criminal procedural rights is safeguarded, across the EU.


The research is being implemented through FRANET and consists of semi-structured face-to-face interviews with practitioners (police, criminal judges and public prosecutors, defence lawyers and staff members of organisations monitoring detention conditions) as well as with defendants (suspects or accused persons, including those deprived of liberty) and with persons arrested in the course of European Arrest Warrant proceedings. The interviews are being conducted in 8 EU Member-States, namely Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Poland and Romania.