enhancing the right to be present

The main goal of the present project is to contribute to the implementation and practical application of Directive (EU) 2016/343, and herewith, enhance the right to be present at trial for person suspected or accused of crimes. Therefore, the project aims to gather and transfer comprehensive knowledge on the right to be present, particularly in all of the five partner countries to the project, namely Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Portugal, Romania and Slovenia as well as to strengthen mutual trust between Member States. Herewith the unification of judicial remedies in MS and the effectiveness of legal remedies should be fostered. Best practices in the field will be exchanged.



The PRESENT project addresses the direct need of training and receiving insight on the changes that are going to be incorporated in the legislation in order to transpose Directive (EU) 2016/343. As the deadline for the transposition is April 2018 – the envisaged PRESENT training activities will provide an initial training on the legislation amendments in each of the partners’ countries. The seminars, which will be conducted in 2019 and will take place in each partner country, will involve presentations tailored to the legislation amendments. Being trained on the Directive, the legal practitioners, prosecutors and judges will be able to identify any contradiction between the Directive and the national legislation, which ultimately leads to the enhancement of the right to be present, as delineated in the Directive.

PRESENT project will conduct comparative analysis in respect to the right to be present for persons suspected or accused of crime, which will examine the state of the law along with gathered case law from each partner’s country. A desk-based research has shown that no official information on trials in absentia is available on the Internet, neither on reopened cases, due to the absence of the accused. The scale of affected people is unknown. One of the core EU values – people’s mobility- appears to be one of the reasons for such trials. For instance, with some variety, the current legislation in Romania and Bulgaria envisages that a trial can be held in absentia if the accused was summoned at the official home address, or, if this in unknown, at the address where they work and was not found. This legislation is in collusion with Directive 2016/343, which will require substantive change. Due to this Burgas Court of Appeals (Bulgaria) has recognised the need of such trainings by providing its support to the PRESENT project.

The PRESENT research and analytic activities will provide information of the countries involved and moreover it will identify the traits of such cases – reasons led to trial in absentia, winning part and statements of the mandate lawyers, etc. The problem with the trials in absentia is whether the suspected or accused in crime is purposefully missing the trial. PRESENT will focus on the opposite cases. The research will deliver an insight into the level of advocacy provided, especially when it comes to mandated lawyers appointed by the State. This will provide transparency in this area and will show what the actual scope of the trial in absentia is, what the common features of these trials are – are there certain groups of people, who are subject to these trials and are they winning or losing these trials.


Anticipated results

  • Facilitated practical application and implementation of Directive 2016/343
  • Enhanced knowledge on the Directive 2016/343 interpretation, notably on the right to be present
  • Raised awareness of decision and policy-makers on what the proper implementation of the Directive should be which will eventually result in the amendment of the national legislation
  • Devised and spreaded best practices
  • Fostered unification and implementation of effective legal remedies, regarding the right to be present





  • Law and Internet Foundation (Bulgaria)
  • VICESSE (Austria)
  • Centrul Roman de Politici Europene (Romania)
  • University of Cyprus (Cyprus)
  • Univerzita Komenskeho v Bratislave (Slovakia)
  • Universidade portucalense infante dhenrique-cooperativa de ensino superior CRL (Portugal)




01/2018 - 12/2019


Justice Action Grant (European Commission)