Draft Agreement on EU accession to European Convention on Human Rights

A milestone has been reached in negotiations on accession of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights. After 30 years of discussion on this question, negotiators of the 47 Council of Europe member states and the European Union finalised the draft accession agreement of the European Union to the European Convention on Human rights on 5 April 2013.

Draft Agreement on EU accession to European Convention on Human Rights
etrThe European Convention on Human Rights is a text
which says what rights people have in Europe.
It talks about different things. 

It says that all people have the same rights and
everyone should be treated the same way.

On 5 April, there was a discussion on how to get the European Union to be part of this Convention.

These discussions are important to make sure that the rights of European citizens are protected.

A milestone has been reached in negotiations on accession of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights.  After 30 years of discussion on this question, negotiators of the 47 Council of Europe member states and the European Union finalised the draft accession agreement of the European Union to the European Convention on Human rights on 5 April 2013.

The Convention sets forth many of the rights underlined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and provides that these rights are to be interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights. Official talks on the European Union’s accession to the European Convention of Human Rights started on 7 July 2010 and became a legal obligation under Article 6(2) of the Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on 1 December 2009.

On the one hand, the Court of Justice is the guarantor of the interpretation of the European Union law.  On the other hand, the European Court of Human Rights is, in the same way, the guarantor of an authentic interpretation of the Convention.

Françoise Tulkens Former Judge and Vice President of the European Court of Human Rights, explains the necessity for accession, stressing that accession is important to avoid an increasing risk of contradictions in the case law between the two Courts.  She further noted that accession to the European Convention on Human Rights was the best means for achieving a coherent framework of human rights protection throughout Europe.

In its preamble, the Convention reaffirms a firm belief in fundamental freedoms which are best maintained “on the one hand by an effective political democracy and on the other by a common understanding and observance of the human rights upon which they depend.”

Thorbjørn Jagland, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, welcomed the agreement reached by the negotiators: “This is a decisive step, paving the way to EU accession to the European Convention of Human Rights. It will contribute to the creation of a single European legal space, putting in place the missing link in the European system of fundamental rights protection”.

Although all EU member states are also parties to the ECHR, the EU itself is currently not. Even though the EU is founded on the respect for human rights, the Convention and its judicial mechanism do not formally apply to EU acts.  This divergence however may be rectified by the EU becoming a party to the Convention.  Other reasons for this accession agreement include the need to close gaps in legal protection by giving European citizens the same protection through acts of the EU as they presently enjoy from member states.

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