European Union accession to the European Convention on Human Rights

Last Updated on August 13, 2019 by LawEuro

EU law and the ECHR are closely connected. The CJEU looks to the ECHR for inspira- tion when determining the scope of human rights protection under EU law. The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights reflects the range of rights provided for by the ECHR, although it is not limited to these rights. Accordingly, EU law has largely developed in line with the ECHR although the EU is not yet a signatory to the ECHR. According to the law as it currently stands, however, individuals wishing to complain about the EU and its failure to guarantee human rights are not entitled to bring an application against the EU as such before the ECtHR. Under certain circumstances, it may be pos- sible to complain indirectly about the EU by bringing an action against one or more EU Member States before the ECtHR.[15]

The Lisbon Treaty contains a provision mandating the EU to join the ECHR as a party in its own right and Protocol 14 to the ECHR amends the ECHR to allow this acces- sion to take place. It is not yet clear what effect this will have in practice and, in particular, how this will influence the relationship between the CJEU and ECtHR in the future. The EU’s accession to the ECHR is, however, likely to improve access to justice for individuals who consider that the EU has failed to guarantee their human rights. The negotiations for the EU’s accession to the ECHR are ongoing and may take several years.


15. For more details on ECtHR case law in this complex area, see, in particular, ECtHR, Bosphorus Hava Yolları
Turizm ve Ticaret Anonim Şirketi v. Ireland [GC], No. 45036/98, 30 June 2005.


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