EU Commission calls on GREECE to comply with EU rules on legal aid

Today the Commission decided to send a reasoned opinion to Greece for failing to communicate on the measures taken to implement the Directive on legal aid (Directive (EU) 2016/1919).

Legal aid is essential to ensure that the right of access to a lawyer is an effective right. The Directive provides for a right to legal aid in particular at the early stages of criminal proceedings, at the latest before questioning by the police, thus at a stage when suspects and accused are particularly vulnerable.

In European arrest warrant proceedings, a right to legal aid applies both in the Member States that executes it and in the Member State where it has been issued.

This Directive is one of six EU procedural rights directives. Member States had to transpose the Directive into their national law by 5 May 2019. As the Greek authorities missed the initial deadline, the Commission decided to open an infringement procedure by sending a letter of formal notice in July 2019.

Greece has now four months to respond to the reasoned opinion and take the relevant action. If it does not comply with EU law, the Commission may decide to refer the case to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Christian Wigand

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