Saturday, 19 January 2013

EU Accession to the European Convention On Human Rights

Here are the written answers from the European Commission to Parliamentary Questions put by Andrew Duff MEP on the accession of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

Note that Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union says that the EU 'shall' accede to the ECHR. [P-010089/2012/rev.1 & P-011360/2012]

1. Three years on from the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, is the Commission satisfied at the present state of progress of the negotiations with the Council on the drafting of the internal rules which will apply once the EU has acceded to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)?
The Commission is engaged in exploratory discussions with the Council on the drafting of the internal rules. The result of these discussions will inform a future proposal for a legal act providing for these internal rules. The latter must respect the institutional balance within the Union, reflect the principle of mutual sincere cooperation between institutions of the Union as well as between the Union and the Member States and allow for an effective defence of Union law in proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). 
2. Will the list of the EU's three nominations for the appointment of a judge to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) be drawn up in accordance with the procedures laid down in Article 255 TFEU for the appointment of judges to the European Court of Justice?

What will be the role of the Commission in the process of judicial appointments?
A panel composed of the members of the panel pursuant to Article 255 TFEU should give an opinion on whether candidates are of "high moral character and […] possess the qualifications required for appointment to high judicial office or [are] jurisconsults of recognised competence" as required by Article 21 (1) ECHR and on which among the candidates are most suitable to perform the duties of a judge at the ECtHR. Based on the panel's opinion, the Commission should make a recommendation to the Council to that effect.
3. Given that the Commission (or in the case of foreign policy, the High Representative) will represent the Union before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), who will decide whether the Union becomes a co-respondent to proceedings in respect of a violation of Union law?
In proceedings before the ECtHR, the Union should be represented by a single agent appointed by the Commission. Prior to requesting that the Union become a co-respondent to the proceedings, the Commission should consult with the respondent Member State and with the author(s) of the provision of Union law which is called into question by an alleged violation of the ECHR.
4. What decision-making procedure will be used in Council for reaching opinions as and when the Council is consulted by the Commission on proceedings before the ECtHR?
It would be in the first place for the Council to take a position on its internal decision making procedure.
5. Is the Commission aware of the need to consult also with Parliament before making submissions to the ECtHR on matters concerning a provision of Union law or an international agreement to which Parliament has given its consent in accordance with Article 218 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union?
Since prior to requesting that the Union become a co-respondent, the Commission should consult inter alia with the author(s) of the provision of Union law at issue. Parliament would have to be consulted on equal footing with the Council regarding all legal acts that have been adopted under the ordinary legislative procedure. Moreover, the consultation mechanism would also allow to take account of the specific situation regarding Council acts needing Parliament's consent.
6. How will the rules ensure consistency in ECtHR proceedings between the submissions of the Commission and of a Member State where the Union is a co-respondent or where Member States collectively are co-respondents in a case concerning the possible violation of Union law?
Such consistency should be ensured by the Commission consulting with inter alia the co-respondent Member State. Moreover, it should be provided that the positions expressed by the Union agent and by the respondent Member State on such an alleged violation of the Convention shall not contradict each other.
7. Will the Commission remind the Council that Parliament needs to give its consent to the agreement on the accession of the EU to the ECHR?
Yes, the Commission has already repeatedly reminded the Council that the Parliament needs to give its consent to the agreement on the accession of the EU to the ECtHR.