Council of Europe says EU should be part of the European Convention on Human Rights
Sevil Erkuş ANKARA
The building of the European Court of Human Rights is seen in Strasbourg, Jan. 7. REUTERS PhotoThe European Union should sign up for the European Convention on Human Rights, but recent negative advice from the Court of Justice of the European Union is worrying, according to Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland.
A recent advisory opinion of the Court of Justice of the EU ruled that the draft agreement on the accession of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights is not compatible with EU law. The issue came up during a recent meeting at the 7th Turkish Ambassadors' Conference last week in Ankara.
When a Turkish ambassador raised the issue and asked the body’s stance over the issue, Jagland told the diplomats that the EU should be part of the Convention.
Jagland said he discussed the issue with Frans Timmermans, the First Vice-President of the EU Commission, and would have further talks with Commission officials in Brussels, a participant of the meeting who wanted to remain anonymous told the Hürriyet Daily News.
All 28 members of the EU are members of the 47-nation Council of Europe and are bound by the European Convention on Human Rights.
The accession of the EU to the Convention, a legal obligation under the Treaty of Lisbon, would constitute a major step in the development of human rights in Europe. The issue has been discussed since the late 1970s and the accession has since become a legal obligation under the Treaty of Lisbon.
EU member state nationals cannot currently challenge EU laws and practices and cannot apply to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) if they suffer from the outcomes of community law.
They can challenge national laws and practices, but if a member country defends legislation as being the result of EU law, the member cannot apply to the ECHR.
In 2013, the European Commission asked the Court of Justice of the European Union for an opinion as to whether the draft agreement, negotiated between the Council of Europe and the EU Commission, is compatible with the EU Acquis.
The EU Commission, with its capacity given by the EU Council, can continue talks with the Council of Europe despite the Court’s advice, according to Jagland, diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News.
The Court observed that the accession of the EU to the Convention would make the EU subject to external control mechanisms provided for by the latter, thus accession will undermine the autonomy of EU law.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, who had a meeting with Jagland last week and discussed the issue, criticized the Court of Justice of the European Union’s advice.
The EU is an “advocate for human rights and the rule of law, but the Court rejects accession to a body that wants to be part of the Convention, which will maintain these values,” Çavuşoğlu was quoted as saying by Anadolu Agency on Jan. 12.
“These are contradictions of EU policies,” he added.