Oops! We did it again – the CJEU’s Opinion on EU Accession to the ECHR

Tobias Lock Today the CJEU answered the European Commission’s question “Is the Draft Agreement on the Accession of the European Union to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms compatible with the Treaties?” with a resounding “No”. This response probably comes as a surprise to many, not least the drafters of the Draft Accession Agreement (DAA), whose ambition to produce an agreement coupling the constitutional requirements of EU law with the Convention system proved unsuccessful. Having declared a previous attempt incompatible with the Treaties in Opinion 2/94 the Court did it again: it has thus reaffirmed its reluctance to subject the EU legal order (and most importantly its own judgments) to an external scrutiny by the ECtHR. The Court found fault with almost every aspect of the DAA, including its core features, the co-respondent and prior involvement mechanisms. Continue reading

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Thu 18. December 20:43
Oops! We did it again – the CJEU’s Opinion on EU Accession to the ECHR
Mon 15. December 08:26
Gibt es eine Ethik des Nudging?
Thu 11. December 16:48
Torture, Human Rights and the Northern Ireland Conflict

Up for Debate

Oops! We did it again – the CJEU’s Opinion on EU Accession to the ECHR

Tobias Lock

Today the CJEU answered the European Commission’s question “Is the Draft Agreement on the Accession of the European Union to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms compatible with the Treaties?” with a resounding “No”. This response probably comes as a surprise to many, not least the drafters of the Draft Accession Agreement (DAA), whose ambition to produce an agreement coupling the constitutional requirements of EU law with the Convention system proved unsuccessful. Having declared a previous attempt incompatible with the Treaties in Opinion 2/94 the Court did it again: it has thus reaffirmed its reluctance to subject the EU legal order (and most importantly its own judgments) to an external scrutiny by the ECtHR. The Court found fault with almost every aspect of the DAA, including its core features, the co-respondent and prior involvement mechanisms. Continue reading

288 Tobias Lock
 Focus  Tensions between constitutional and international law

The UK’s Potential Withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights – Just a Flash in the Pan or a Real Threat?

Jannika Jahn

The ruling Conservative party of Prime Minister David Cameron published a paper this year, called “Protecting Human Rights in the UK”. The party suggests to replace the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA), which incorporates the ECHR into UK law, with a “home-grown” bill of rights. The aim is to attribute the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) only an advisory role vis-à-vis the UK parliament and to weaken the quasi precedential effect of ECtHR case-law vis-à-vis the UK Supreme Court. In case this will not be accepted by the Council of Europe (CoE), the Conservatives propose withdrawing from the Convention. more

321 Jannika Jahn
 Focus  Tensions between constitutional and international law

The Backlash against International Courts

Nico Krisch

International courts seem to be living in hard times. The International Court of Justice is openly challenged by the Italian Constitutional Court, the European Court of Human Rights faces political initiatives to curtail its power in the UK and in Switzerland, the International Criminal Court is up against occasional rebellion in a number of African countries, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has been confronted with challenges by courts and governments in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, and several (especially Latin American) countries have initiated a backlash against international investment arbitration. This symposium has debated a number of these cases more

301 Nico Krisch

Gibt es eine Ethik des Nudging?

Hans-Michael Heinig

Ist Nudging – also die Steuerung individueller Entscheidungen im wohlverstandenen Interesse des Entscheidenden – nicht nur eine Frage des Könnens, sondern des Sollens? Cass Sunstein, einer der Protagonisten der Nudging-Debatte, war letzte Woche bei einer Veranstaltung des Bundesjustizministeriums zu Gast. Doch die Frage nach der Rechtfertigung von Nudging tauchte kaum auf. Antworten wird hoffentlich die Nudging-Konferenz des Verfassungsblogs im Januar liefern. Continue reading

45 Hans-Michael Heinig
 Focus  Tensions between constitutional and international law

Damage-assessment on the building of international law after the Italian Constitutional Court’s decision no. 238 of 2014: no structural damage, just wear and tear.

Filippo Fontanelli

This symposium invites reflections on the intercourse between national courts and international law, in light of the recent judgment of the Constitutional Court of Italy (no. 238 of 2014, of 22 October 2014). I briefly examine this judgment’s impact on international law in two respects. First, whether it can point to a new principle of international law. Second, whether it undermines international law as such. I have elsewhere summarised the main aspects of the ruling, and criticised its inward-looking approach. The Italian judges deliberately avoided engaging with international law and therefore their ruling serves, at most, as cheap-talk for the more

276 Filippo Fontanelli

Torture, Human Rights and the Northern Ireland Conflict

Donal Coffey

At what point does harsh treatment of detainees amount to torture? With the US Senate report on CIA interrogation practices dominating all the headlines, this question is very much on our minds right now. That the European Court of Human Rights will have to consider this question, is a mere coincidence, though. The Irish Government has decided to reopen a decades old case from the darkest days of the Northern Ireland conflict (Ireland v United Kingdom). The case will raise once again the ugly spectre of the systematic abuse of prisoners in Northern Ireland. Moreover, the litigation has the potential to have far-reaching effects in the relationship between the European Court and the United Kingdom, and in the constitutional settlement within the United Kingdom itself. Continue reading

300 Donal Coffey
 Focus  Tensions between constitutional and international law

No custom restricting state immunity for grave breaches ‒ well why not?

Felix Würkert

In a recent judgement (discussed here and here), the Italian Constitutional Court (CC) found that the Italian Constitution barred Italian courts from applying the ICJ’s judgement in Germany v. Italy (discussed here and here) and that the Italian laws implementing the judgement were unconstitutional. The CC did so without wandering off into the field of international law. It did however acknowledge the ICJ’s finding, that there was no customary international law exempting states from immunity in the case of grave breaches of international law. I would like to argue that this should not be the question, but rather that this more

294 Felix Würkert

The Electoral Threshold Case in Turkey

Ali Acar

According to recent statements made to a journalist by the President Hasim Kilic of the Turkish Constitutional Court, the Court will soon deliver a decision on the 10% electoral threshold that exists for political parties to be represented in Parliament in a case brought before the Court by three political parties through the constitutional complaint, also known as the “individual application” mechanism. The statement made by Justice Kilic has led the Court to confront a difficult situation, once again. A heated public debate has already begun around the issue. Continue reading

105 Ali Acar
 Focus  Tensions between constitutional and international law

Of global cities and Gallic villages: tensions between constitutional and international law

Hannah Birkenkötter

The judgment by the Italian Constitutional Court of 22 October 2014 is but a first climax in a series of recent incidents evidencing the strained relationship between international and domestic law. In the United Kingdom, the Tories are currently debating whether they ought to exit the system of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). And in Switzerland, a new popular initiative entitled “Swiss Law supersedes foreign law” has been announced; in addition, a member of government has formally asked to withdraw from the ECHR.

133 Hannah Birkenkötter

How Constitutional Courts talk to each other: The Potential of the Preliminary Reference Procedure for Europe’s pluralist Verfassungsverbund

Andrej Lang

Vor nicht allzu langer Zeit war die Diskussion zum Verhältnis zwischen dem EuGH und nationalen Verfassungsgerichten bestimmt von Fragen nach dem Vorrang und der Letztentscheidungskompetenz. Das Vorlageverfahren wurde bei dieser Diskussion meist nur am Rande erwähnt. Das Terrain hat sich geändert. Das jedenfalls suggeriert eine mit Spannung erwartete Rede, die der Vizepräsident des Gerichtshofs der Europäischen Union, Koen Lenaerts, am letzten Montag an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin gehalten hat. Continue reading

289 Andrej Lang
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Op-ed

Too big to handle: Why we are so bad at preventing catastrophes

2014-10-12 Disaster
(c) sea turtle, Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Financial crises, genocides, environmental catastrophes, epidemics, wars – constantly things happen we knew exactly that they would a) happen with some likeliness or even certainty, and b) be absolutely horrible. And still we have let it happen. And not just because we could not help it. But because somehow, all things considered, we did not want to. We haven’t done what we could have done. We didn’t want to know what we could have known. What is this strange phenomenon about? And how can we improve ourselves? To find answers to those questions, last week an extraordinarily illustrious group of scholars from all sorts of disciplines had assembled at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin. Continue reading

Will an independent Scotland stay in the EU?

2014-09-05 Schottland
(c) James Stringer, Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

In less than two weeks we will know whether or not Scotland will remain part of the UK. In the polls, the No camp still leads, but just by a slight and shrinking margin. It might actually happen what has never happened before: One EU member state becomes two. Or, will they? Continue reading

Bosnia and the problem of generalizable human rights gauges

2014-07-15 Bosnien
(c) Amanda Robinson, Flickr CC BY-BC-ND 2.0

For five years Bosnia has been digging its heels in, refusing to align its constitution to the demands of the ECHR and to grant non-bosniacs, -serbs and -croats the right to be elected to its second chamber of legislation. Now, the Strasbourg Court has once again declared this state of affairs unacceptable. But what if it would hold other constitutional systems, such as that of the European Union, up to the standard it applies in the Bosnian case? Continue reading

Burqa Ban: My Right to Be Left Alone is Your Tough Luck

2014-07-07 Trespassing
(c) Michael Dorausch, Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

An often heard argument in the debate on the burqa ban decision by the ECtHR is that a minimum of "vivre ensemble" is a condition of all freedom and hence a legitimate balancing factor with the rights to privacy and religious freedom. This, though, is irreconcilable with the "right to be left alone". Continue reading

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