European Union accession to the European Convention on Human Rights : stronger protection of fundamental rights in Europe?
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The treaty of Lisbon makes European Union (EU) accession to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) an obligation of result. The issue has been intensely discussed for more than thirty years, arguing that such accession is necessary in view of the need to ensure the ECHR standard of fundamental rights protection in Europe. This question again gains prominence as the EU member states and the institutions seek to agree on the negotiation directives of EU accession to the ECHR. The process brings up the difficulties involved in creating a mechanism which would both facilitate the autonomy of the EU legal order and enable individuals to bring claims against the EU to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). This involves the questions how it would be possible to ensure quick access to justice, and whether the ECtHR would continue to apply the doctrine of equivalent protection in relation to EU even after the latter becomes bound by the ECHR. The article argues that EU accession to the Convention is a prominent political step ensuring coherence of human rights protection mechanism in Europe. However, the need to ensure prompt access to justice mandates that the doctrine of equivalent protection, pursuant to which the ECtHR presumes that EU ensures equivalent protection to human rights to that of the ECHR system and finds claims concerning EU acts inadmissible, is maintained and developed further. Therefore, at the end of this article the author presupposes that a better way of ensuring the guarantee of access to court in cases of the application of the state immunity doctrine would be to leave this issue of a clear political shadow to be solved between the two states by means of diplomatic negotiation.
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