Members of the European Parliament have today met to debate the accession of the EU to the European Convention of Human Rights; the most advanced human rights mechanism in the world which allows individuals to bring governments responsible of fundamental rights violations into account in front of a European Court.
Speaking during the debate, Jean argued that EU accession to the Convention was about delivering rights for all within the 27 Member States and would close the gap that left EU legislation outside the remit of the European Court of Human Rights.
The Council of Europe, currently chaired by the UK, is also meeting in Brighton this week to press forward with plans for the reform of the Strasbourg court, which includes proposals to grant national courts more discretion in interpreting the Convention. The European Greens are concerned about the plans, which could fundamentally weaken the Court.
Jean said: “While some of the proposed reforms would strengthen the European Human Rights system, the UK has again underlined its intention to weaken the European Court of Human Rights. The Strasbourg Court plays a vital role in defending human rights across Europe attempt s to scale back the competences of the court must be rejected .The proposals to allow national courts great room to interpret the European Human Rights Convention risks undermining the jurisprudence of the European Court, enabling a kaleidoscope of human rights law to emerge across 47 Member States.
“What is needed,” Jean argued, “is for European countries to give more consistency as to how judgements are enforced: this could reduce the number of similar cases being filed. The planned reforms would also limit the possibilities of individuals to bring cases before the Strasbourg court, undermining their ability to defend their human rights. EU Ministers, in particular, must oppose these proposals.
On the EU accession to the ECHR, Jean said: “It is high time that the EU joins the European Convention on Human Rights. The EU’ s membership remains blocked in the EU Council of Ministers, undermining EU human rights policy. Many blame the UK for this lack of progress: given the UK was a foundation stone of the ECHR, it would be shocking if this were the case. The European Parliament has made its position clear and EU Ministers must urgently take the final steps to allow the EU to join the Convention.”