Ground-breaking step for human rights protection
(Brussels, 5 April 2013) Today in Strasbourg negotiators from Council of Europe member states and the European Union have reached agreement on the European Union’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights following nearly three years of negotiations. The Court of Justice of the EU in Luxembourg must now give an opinion on the draft agreement.
“We welcome this initial agreement as a key landmark for ensuring coherence in human rights protection and accountability for human rights violations in Europe,” said Nicolas Beger, Director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office.
“Like any European state, the EU will also be subject to external judicial scrutiny for its acts, measures and omissions. The EU’s accession to the Convention must strengthen and close the gap for judicial protection of human rights in Europe. We will now look closely at the agreement to assess the progress made towards this objective.”
Amnesty International and other NGOs have been calling for EU accession to the ECHR for many years and have closely followed the process since the adoption of the Lisbon treaty made accession to the ECHR a legal obligation for the EU. They have stressed throughout negotiations that the whole purpose of accession is to ensure that people in Europe enjoy more complete respect and protection of their human rights.
Once the agreement is in force, individuals, NGOs or groups of individuals will have the same right to submit complaints to the European Court of Human Rights against the EU as they have been exercising against European states.
The EU now needs to adopt internal legal rules that regulate outstanding issues. Amnesty International hopes that the next steps towards the accession will be more transparent and include meaningful consultation of civil society.
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