By focusing on the adoption of EU minimum standards in the field of procedural rights in criminal proceedings, this article will assess the relationship between secondary law harmonisation, and the principles of effectiveness of EU law and of effective judicial protection in Europe’s area of criminal justice. This article will begin by exploring the third pillar legacy on harmonisation, by focusing on what the EU has not done (i.e. to legislate on a horizontal instrument on defence rights) and what the EU has done (i.e. to legislate specifically on judgments in absentia with the specific purpose of clarifying, and in some instances limiting, the grounds for refusal in a number of EU mutual recognition measures). The analysis will then examine the impact of the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty and will evaluate critically the impact of EU harmonisation measures on defence rights on effective judicial protection. The analysis will focus on the relationship between EU law and national law, as well as on the relationship between EU law and the Charter and ECHR. Great emphasis will be placed on the strengthening of enforcement avenues offered by the normalisation of EU criminal law after Lisbon. These avenues have the potential to ensure that, even minimum, harmonisation measures in the field of defence rights can have a real impact on enhancing effective judicial protection and achieving the effectiveness of EU legislation on the ground.
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