Law and Rights
The ever expanding influence of the EU in criminal matters - No. 3
Under the Stockholm Programme - agreed in December 2009 - the influence of the EU in criminal matters will increase markedly over the years 2010 - 2014. See the Stockholm Agreement and the Action Plan. This is a very far-reaching legislative programme as even a brief glance at the Tables in the Action Plan will reveal.
Following on from the Action Plan, the EU has issued a draft directive on the Right to information in criminal proceedings. This will establish minimum rights across the EU for those suspected of having committed an offence or for those charged. The minimum rights will include: written information about rights on arrest; written information about rights in the European Arrest Warrant process; information about the charge and access to the case file. A further initiative is a proposed directive on Translation and Interpretation Rights.
Areas where further EU action will be taken are: Legal Advice and Legal Aid; Communication with Relatives, Employers and Consular Authorities; Special Safeguards for suspected or accused persons who are vulnerable and a Green paper of Pre-Trial Detention - see Road Map 2009.
It remains to be seen to what extent the U.K. government actually adopts many of these initiatives. For example, will the government be keen to restore legal aid in Magistrates' Courts which has, in the last few years, been scaled back considerably. Assuming that it does adopt some or all of them, it should not be assumed that everything in the English Law garden is rosy. Some changes will be required if English Law is to comply fully with some of the proposals.
It is also interesting that the draconian European Arrest Warrant came first and that efforts to achieve minimal procedural rights have come later. Cart before the horse? Other EU Law posts:
European Arrest Warrant ....... Ever Expanding Influence 1 ...... Ever Expanding Influence 2
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Law and Rights