23rd January 2014: Yesterday at the European Parliament in Brussels, Andrew Brons made the following contribution to a joint meeting of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE) and the Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) on the European Union’s accession to the European Convention of Human Rights, following a presentation by a representative of the European Parliament’s Legal Service.
"I would like to check on whether I have understood this correctly. It seems that the European Court of Human Rights (the Council of Europe’s court - also known as the Strasbourg Court) will be able to:
1) rule on whether EU legislative acts are valid for being consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights without the legislation necessary having been considered by the European Court of Justice (the EU’s own court, also known as the Luxembourg Court). However, it cannot annul those legislative acts.
2) rule on whether judgments of the ECJ (Luxembourg Court) are valid for being consistent with the Convention. However, it cannot overturn ECJ judgments.
3) rule on whether administrative decisions taken by institutions of the EU are consistent with the Convention. I presume that it cannot annul them.
4) However, I presume that the Strasbourg Court would expect such legislation to be annulled, such judgments to be overturned and such decisions to be changed.
5) The Strasbourg Court cannot rule on the existence of the EU competences but it can rule on the exercise of those competences and whether that exercise is consistent with the Convention.
6) Will it be able to rule on the validity of the content of the treaties, although it will obviously not be able to annul them?
7) In short it seems that the Strasbourg Court will have the power of censure rather than the power to make binding judgements.
Mr Dodd (the Liberal Democrat MEP) said that the EU could sign up to only two of the protocols attached to the Convention but the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights would like the EU to sign up to all of them. Why can the EU not do so? (I was not suggesting that it ought to!)
Mr Dodd said that signing up to a protocol required unanimity and that the British Government had vetoed the signing of all protocols apart from Protocol 1 and protocol 6.
The representative of the EU’s Legal Service said that the Strasbourg Court would be able to rule on the validity of the content of the treaties. However, he thought that this would be a theoretical right only because it would be unlikely that an EU treaty would be inconsistent with the Convention."