Tuesday 17 September 2013

Article on EU-ECHR Integration

Professor Piet Eeckhout of University College London has published an interesting article on what the European Union's accession to the ECHR will mean for the EU. Specifically it reconsiders legal pluralism theories in this respects and argues for an integration of laws paradigm. The article, entitled 'Human Rights and the Autonomy of EU Law: Pluralism or Integration?'has been published in the journal Current Legal Problems, vol. 66 (2013) pp. 169-202. This is the abstract: 
The accession of the European Union to the European Convention on Human Rights raises questions about the autonomy of EU law, and about the future relationship between the EU Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights. The concept of autonomy appears to confirm prevailing theories about the relationships between legal systems in Europe, i.e. legal and constitutional pluralism. This study challenges those theories, and proposes an alternative paradigm: the integration of laws. Its central argument is that the EU system of human rights protection is increasingly characterized by its integration with the national constitutional laws of the Member States and with the ECHR. It argues that in integrated legal systems, conflicts between supreme adjudicators can be resolved from within the law. Each of the supreme/constitutional courts needs to recognize the limits of its jurisdiction, but is also sharing jurisdiction with the others. This principle of limited and shared jurisdiction is a tool for resolving conflicts, leading away from a conception of a deep conflict of supreme judicial authority. Integrated legal systems are governed by a law of integration, which is there for all to see. The article touches upon some of the elements of that law of integration. It goes on to investigate the scope for EU law autonomy—which is in essence concerned with safeguarding the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice—in connection with accession to the ECHR. It argues that the principle of limited and shared jurisdiction should govern the relationship between the two European courts, and that it is capable of ensuring that the European Court of Human Rights does not decide matters of EU competence, or EU law generally. But the principle also means that the Court of Justice will be bound by judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.