The Court of Justice handed down two interesting judgments back in January 2015 on the rights of environmental NGOs and the compatibility of EU legislation with international agreements. The two judgments – in Joined Cases C-401/12 P to C-403/12 P Council v Vereniging Milieudefensie and others, EU:C:2015:4, and Joined Cases C-404/12 P and C-405/12 P Council v Stichting Natuur en Milieu and Pesticide Action Network Europe, EU:C:2015:5 – clarify when applicants can rely an international agreement which does not have direct effect. Continue reading
The big news is that on 18 December 2014 the Court of Justice has handed down its second negative opinion in Opinion 2/13 EU:C:2014:2475 on the accession of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights.
Back in 1996 the Court had decided in Opinion 2/94 that there was no legal basis in the Treaty at that time for the EU to accede (see the summary of the submissions in that case and the opinion of 28 March 1996). As a consequence of that opinion, Article 6(2) TEU was added to provide a legal basis and states:
2. The Union shall accede to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Such accession shall not affect the Union’s competences as defined in the Treaties.
The EU and the Council of Europe then spent some time negotiating an agreement between them allowing for accession to the Convention. Once that was done, the Commission asked the Court of Justice, pursuant to its jurisdiction under Article 218 (11) TFEU: “Is the draft agreement providing for the accession of the [EU to the ECHR] compatible with the Treaties?”
The Court’s answer is “no”.