EU rules on the presumption of innocence and the right to be present at trial: Commission calls on Bulgaria, Spain and Poland to correctly transpose the Directive

The European Commission calls on Bulgaria, Spain and Poland to correctly transpose the EU rules on the presumption of innocence and the right to be present at trial.

The European Commission decided to open an infringement procedure by sending a letter of formal notice to Spain (INFR(2024)2033) and Poland (INFR(2024)2034), as well as to send an additional letter of formal notice to Bulgaria (INFR(2023)2093) for failing to correctly transpose the Directive on the strengthening of the presumption of innocence and the right to be present at the trial in criminal proceedings (Directive 2016/343/EU).

The Directive is one of six Directives adopted by the EU to create common minimum standards ensuring that the fair trial rights of suspects and accused persons in criminal proceedings are sufficiently protected across the EU. The Commission considers that certain national transposition measures notified by the three Member States fall short of the requirements of the Directive.

The Commission sent a first letter of formal notice to Bulgaria in September 2023, but found additional issues in the Bulgarian transposition of the provisions concerning trials in absentia and the right to a new trial.

Concerning both Poland and Spain, the Commission found that the measures notified by these Member States do not correctly transpose the provisions of the Directive on public references to guilt, as well as those on the use of measures of physical restraint when presenting suspects and accused persons in court or in public.

Poland failed to correctly transpose the conditions of application of the burden of proof, the right to silence and the right not to incriminate oneself, the requirements for trials in absentia, as well as the provision on the right to effective remedies. In addition, under Polish law, persons suspected of having committed a criminal offence do not benefit of the rights of the Directive before they are made aware of their status as a suspect or accused person by the competent authorities, thus giving rise to an incorrect transposition of the scope of the Directive.

The Commission is therefore sending a letter of formal notice to Spain and Poland and an additional letter of formal notice to Bulgaria, which all now have two months to respond and address the shortcomings raised by the Commission. In the absence of a satisfactory response, the Commission may decide to issue a reasoned opinion. (source europa.eu/photo freepik.com)

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Editorial

Editorial
George Kazoleas, Lawyer

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