EESC opinion: Right of access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings

Key points

  • The EESC very much welcomes the principle of a directive of this kind as it represents an unquestionable advance in terms both of the requirement for legal certainty and of the need to guarantee these rights in the various Member States.
  • The active assistance of a freely-chosen lawyer from the beginning of criminal proceedings is the guarantee of a fair trial.
  • The EESC deeply regrets the postponement of the measure on legal aid.
  • The EESC believes that the right of access to a lawyer, as provided for in the proposal for a directive, is compatible with the requirements of the investigation and, by helping to guarantee the admissibility of the evidence gathered, may even facilitate the smooth progress of the criminal procedure, provided that certain conditions are respected.
  • Finally, with a view to ensuring balance, the EESC calls on the Council to set guidelines for greater protection of victims' rights in the light of the new rights granted to the defence.