Wednesday 17 February 2010

EU & ECHR: A very difficult marriage

As I have predicted, the negotiations around the EU's accession to the European Convention on Human Rights (as foreseen in the Lisbon Treaty), a step that would make the Union's institutions liable to the European Court of Human Rights, are already creating controversies.

European Voice yesterday quoted Thorbjørn Jagland, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe (that is the international organisation to which the European Court of Human Rights belongs), who told that one of the issues is the unclear election procedure of an EU judge and the question how to handle a possible flood of EU-related cases. One has to know that the Court is already overloaded with cases from all over Europe (including Russia and Turkey) and probably would not be able to stand even more without a serious raise of its budget.

L'Europe de la Défense published the content of a German position paper in which the German EU delegation rejects the idea of a "co-defender" that apparently has been coming up in the Council debates in the Working Group of Justice an Home Affairs Counsellors (including an ECJ representative). I wonder what this is because there is no mentioning of a co-defender in the Lisbon Treaty. The quoted paper mentions a number of other questions like the future role of the European Court of Justice and the extend of protection that will be guaranteed through the European Court of Human Rights after the EU accession.

The time plan as reported by European Voice is also quite slow, as a negotiation mandate for the EU will only be agreed upon until June. If it needs five months just to get the mandate, we all know how long the negotiations will take...

In sum, that is exactly what I expected, and I suppose that within the Council of Europe where just 27 out of the 47 member states are EU countries the negotiations will also face a number of difficult political and legal questions, which might prolong the process ad infinity.