Eu and the Fundamental Rights..

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The European Community (EC) has expressed through treaty provision and case law that the protection of the fundamental rights of EC citizens is vitally important. However, the EC itself is not currently bound to a set of agreed fundamental rights. For years, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has respected and protected fundamental rights by considering the position of state constitutions and the terms of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Yet, the ECJ is not bound to follow these. It is not bound to the ECHR, as it is not a signatory.

In 1999, when the member states of the EC also drew up the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights as part of the new constitution. However the documents have not been formally
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But, given the ECJ’s long-standing use of the ECHR, the Charter will have a weaker influence.

With the current political situation with regard to the Charter it is unlikely that it will be given legal effect in their current state and the ECJ may feel reluctant to use the Charter should it give effect to rights that may later be left out of the final document. Furthermore, giving the EC and the ECJ more power in more areas is an idea that many member states are sceptical of, and this may delay and even prevent the legal status of the treaty from ever becoming. Given all these facts it is therefore fair to assume the Charter is currently an unnecessary document.

The introduction of the Charter does however raise questions of how the relationships of the Luxembourg and Strasbourg courts may be affected. The current position of the courts, as described by academic, S Douglas Scott , is “a symbiotic interaction…working out a solution to the sometimes awkward co-existence of the EU and ECHR”. The ECJ and Strasbourg courts make reference to the others law but on a limited basis as to avoid conflict.

As has already been seen, the ECJ frequently examines the terms and protections of the ECHR when considering issues of fundamental rights in cases before it. As for the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, it has previously had little to do with the ECJ, especially due to its more specific nature. However, with the influx
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