Thursday, 16 June 2011

EU Accession to the ECHR and the Election of Judges

With the accession of the European Union to the ECHR on the horizon, negotiations are ongoing on several levels. One technical issue which needs to be worked out is how the EU wil be involved in the election of judges to the ECHR. Judges, under Article 22 ECHR, are elected by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (CoE). This is a body with parliamentarians from all CoE member states. Since the EU will not join the Council of Europe organization as a member, a special solution needs to be found for involvement of parliamentarians representing the EU in the process to select judges. This is currently under negotiation between Pace and the European Parliament. As a press release of this week indicates, agreement has been reached on some of the key points. The official text of the agreement is not yet finally drafted or public, but the press release includes the basics:

Statement by co-chairs of PACE-European Parliament joint informal body
The election of judges to the European Court of Human Rights following the EU’s accession to the European Convention on Human Rights: statement by co-chairs of PACE-European Parliament informal body


The co-chairpersons of the Parliamentary Assembly-European Parliament joint informal body, Christos Pourgourides (Cyprus, EPP/CD), Chairperson of the Assembly’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, and Carlo Casini (Italy, EPP), Chairperson of the European Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs, issued the following statement at the end of the body’s meeting held in Paris on 15 June 2011:

"There was agreement that, following accession of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Parliament will be entitled to participate in the sittings of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and its relevant bodies when the latter exercises its functions related to the election of judges to the European Court of Human Rights, under Article 22 of the Convention.

There was further agreement that a European Parliament delegation, of a size equal to that of the biggest national parliamentary delegations, will participate in the election of judges by the Parliamentary Assembly. In particular, agreement has been reached as to the manner in which representatives of the European Parliament will take part and vote within the Assembly’s different bodies in the election process.

These arrangements must now be approved by the Parliamentary Assembly and the European Parliament, in accordance with their respective procedures.”

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