Breakthrough in EU bid to join Council of Europe

Draft agreement reached on EU joining the European Convention on Human Rights.

Negotiators from the European Union and the Council of Europe have finalised a draft agreement that, if approved, would lead to the EU joining the European Convention on Human Rights.

Many hurdles remain, however. The EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg will now be asked to give its opinion on the text. The text would then require the unanimous approval of the EU’s member states, the support of the European Parliament (with a two-thirds majority), and would then need to be ratified by parliaments in the Council of Europe’s 47 member states.

All 27 of the EU’s member states are already signatories of the convention. However, laws and actions taken by the EU as a bloc or by EU officials are currently not subject to the scrutiny entailed by acceptance of the convention. The draft agreement would change that, and would mean that legal cases about human-rights questions involving the EU would be resolved by the European Court of Human Rights, a Council of Europe body.

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