The European Criminal Bar Association (ECBA) is a leading group of independent criminal defence lawyers in the Council of Europe

A study of the effectiveness of safeguards for the rights of suspects and defendants in the EU, particularly in relation to legal aid.

The ECBA is partner in an AGIS application filed in January 2006 for a subsidy to research  the state of criminal legal aid in the EU measured against the standards of the European Convention and the proposed EU framework decision on minimum standards.

This is a joint project between JUSTICE, a leading human rights organisation in the United Kingdom and the British section of the International Commission of Jurists, and the Faculty of Law of the University of Maastricht (Prof. Taru Spronken, co- chair of the Legal Development Committee of the ECBA) . It is undertaken within the context of an overall research programme established by a consortium of European institutions led by the Asser Instituut which is currently organising a project on the European arrest warrant and of which both Maastricht and JUSTICE are members.

The output of this project will be a report setting out the results. This will provide empirical information of a unique kind on the extent to which criminal legal aid is providing a safeguard which is ‘practical and effective’. This is the standard set by the European Court of Human Rights but substantial doubt exists as to whether many states actually meet it. The project will also analyse the way in which the European Union can be, and has been, complementary to the European Court of Human Rights in the practical enforcement of human rights obligations. This should be demonstrable from the experience of at least some of the new members during the period that they were monitored under the ‘Copenhagen criteria’ prior to membership.

The ECBA will facilitate the research, through the ECBA network.