'Protecting Criminal Defence Rights through EU Law: Opportunities and Challenges'

The article examines the concretisation of criminal defence rights under EU law through a set of Directives designed to strengthen procedural safeguards. The article reviews the origins of the new measures, designed to provide a stronger basis for judicial cooperation based on mutual trust. It examines the shortcomings of the existing system of protection of fair trial rights under the European Convention on Human Rights and considers whether, and how, EU law can improve the situation. The article recognises that the new measures, monitored and enforced by the European Commission, provide new possibilities for civil society organisations. However, it argues that the main opportunity is for enhanced protection of defence rights in the national courts. The measures themselves, the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the possibility to seek timely guidance from the Court of Justice of the EU constitute new tools which, if national courts can be persuaded to use them, could appreciably advance fair trial rights protection in the EU. The experiment will reveal the usefulness of EU law as a driver of fundamental rights compliance in the post-Lisbon era.


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