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The EU's Accession to the ECHR: The Dream Becomes a Nightmare

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 March 2019


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Just before Christmas 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU or the Court) gave its long-awaited ruling on the European Union's accession to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). This ruling, Opinion 2/13, is a complex judgment that raises many legal questions. This case comment sets out: A summary of the ruling; an assessment of the consequences of the ruling; and an initial critique of the Court's reasoning. On the latter point, the Court's ruling is fundamentally flawed. In short, the Court is seeking to protect the basic elements of EU law by disregarding the fundamental values upon which the Union was founded.

Special Section - Opinion 2/13: The E.U. and the European Convention on Human Rights
Copyright © 2015 by German Law Journal GbR 


1 Opinion Pursuant to Article 218(11) TFEU, CJEU Case C-2/13 (Dec. 18, 2014), [hereinafter Opinion 2/13]; European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Nov. 4, 1950, 213 U.N.T.S. 222 [hereinafter ECHR].Google Scholar

2 This comment is based upon my blog post: Steve Peers, The CJEU and the EU's Accession to the ECHR: A Clear and Present Danger to Human Rights Protection, EU Law Analysis (Dec. 18, 2014), Scholar

3 Opinion Pursuant to Article 228 EC Treaty, CJEU Case C-2/94, 1996 E.C.R. I-1759.Google Scholar

4 Consolidated Version of the Treaty on European Union art. 6(2), Oct. 26, 2012, 2012 O.J. (C 326) 13 [hereinafter TEU].Google Scholar

5 Protocol No. 8 Relating to Art. 6(2) TEU on the Accession of the Union to the European Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Oct. 26, 2012, 2012 O.J. (C 326) [hereinafter Protocol No. 8]; TEU art. 1.Google Scholar

6 TEU art. 1.Google Scholar

7 Protocol No. 8; TEU art. 2.Google Scholar

8 Protocol No. 8; TEU art. 3; TEU art. 344.Google Scholar

9 TEU art. 6(2).Google Scholar

10 For the text, see Accession of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights, Council of Europe, (last visited Mar. 8, 2015).Google Scholar

11 Opinion 2/13 at paras. 144–52.Google Scholar

12 Id. at para. 71.Google Scholar

13 Id. at paras. 153–77.Google Scholar

14 Id. at para. 156.Google Scholar

15 Id. at para. 158.Google Scholar

16 Id. at para. 167.Google Scholar

17 Id. at paras. 179–200.Google Scholar

18 Melloni v. Ministerio Fiscal, CJEU Case C-399/11, paras. 60–61, 63 (Feb. 26, 2013), Scholar

19 Opinion 2/13 at para. 191.Google Scholar

20 See Protocol No. 16 to the Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Oct. 2, 2013, C.E.T.S. No. 214 [hereinafter Protocol No. 16]. The Protocol was opened for signature in 2013 and will enter into force after ten ratifications. So far it has been signed by sixteen States, including nine Member States, but no State has ratified it.Google Scholar

21 Opinion 2/13 at paras. 201–14.Google Scholar

22 Id. at paras. 215–35.Google Scholar

23 Id. at paras. 236–38.Google Scholar

24 Id. at paras. 249–57.Google Scholar

25 See id. Google Scholar

26 ECHR art. 47.Google Scholar

27 ECHR art. 57.Google Scholar

28 TEU art. 6.Google Scholar

29 Consolidated Version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union art. 265, May 9, 2008, 2008 O.J. (C 115) 47 [hereinafter TFEU].Google Scholar

30 See View of Advocate General Mengozzi, Segi and Others v. Council, CJEU Case C-355/04 (Feb. 27, 2007), 2007 E.C.R. I-1657.Google Scholar

32 Melloni, CJEU Case C-399/11.Google Scholar

33 Tarakhel v. Switzerland, ECHR App. No. 29217/12 (Nov. 4, 2014), Scholar

34 Abdullahi v. Bundesasylamt, CJEU Case C-394/12 (Dec. 10, 2013), Scholar

35 TEU art. 2.Google Scholar

36 Article 344 TFEU only rules out awarding jurisdiction to non-EU courts as regards matters over which the CJEU has jurisdiction. An a contrario interpretation obviously suggests that this is possible where the CJEU does not have any jurisdiction. TFEU art. 344.Google Scholar

37 TEU art. 2.Google Scholar

38 TFEU art. 67(1).Google Scholar

39 TEU art. 6.Google Scholar

40 Id. art. 7.Google Scholar

41 Id. art. 2.Google Scholar

42 Id. art. 48.Google Scholar

43 Id. art. 21.Google Scholar

44 TFEU art. 67.Google Scholar

45 TFEU art. 82.Google Scholar

46 Protocol No. 8.Google Scholar