Tuesday

24th Oct 2017

EU charter creating 'confusion' on human rights

Two years after the European Charter of Fundamental Rights became part of the EU treaty, its confusing application has created problems for press freedom, minority and asylum seekers' rights, human rights czar Thomas Hammarberg told this website.

The EU charter covers much of the same rights enshrined in an older European Convention on Human Rights, which applies to all 48 members of the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe and its European Court of Human Rights - an appeal body of last resort for people who feel they were treated unjustly by national authorities.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Hammarberg, the Council's human rights commissioner, said the EU in some cases accepts competence on technical issues but not political issues, hampering his work.

"The most striking example was the media law in Hungary. We were outmanoeuvred by the European Commission, who accepted a few changes to the law and then Budapest proclaimed that the issue had been settled. But there are still freedom-of-the-press problems with that law," he told this website following a hearing in the European Parliament in Brussels on Thursday (10 November).

The media-gag dispute erupted earlier this year shortly after Budapest took over the rotating EU presidency.

An outcry by MEPs and some EU capitals pushed the commission to take action. A commission warning letter saw Hungary make some minor amendments to the bill. Brussels and Budapest quickly made peace and the EU's seal of approval gave Budapest an excuse to ignore the Council of Europe's concerns.

"Because of that, they [Hungary] lost any interest in a dialogue with the Council of Europe. I'm not saying they would have listened, but at least we could have expressed our disagreement," Hammarberg explained.

He flagged up a similar case in 2010 on French expulsions of Roma.

The EU intially said the policy was based on ethnic profiling, which violates the EU charter. But it later backed down saying there was no legal basis to take France to the European Court of Justice.

And with 2,000 refugees from Africa having drowned in the Mediterranean this year trying to reach Europe's shores, EU's human rights record is severely tarnished, he said.

Hammarberg noted that the terminology in EU documents - "human rights" and "fundamental rights" - also causes mix-ups.

"One wonders what 'fundamental' is - only the most important of the human rights? When I discuss it now with EU experts, they say it's still all human rights, but this is a bit confusing," he said.

He urged EU institutions to join the other 48 national members of the Strasbourg court: "This step is important also symbolically, so as to have the notion of one human rights legal system. Because now, there is a risk people see it as two distinct systems."

Negotiations on move - which would put all EU institutions and lawmaking process under the scrutiny of the human rights court - began in 2010 but are expected to last at least five years.

EUobserver understands that France and Britain are currently stalling the process because they disagree on the structure of voting rights in the Strsbourg-based Council. The UK - currently the six-month rotating chairman of the Council - has opted to focus on refroming its cout rather than pressing ahead with EU accession talks.

EU executive leaves Roma problem to France

One year after EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding compared France to Nazi Germany over its expulsions of Roma, she has opted to keep silent on reports that little has changed.

EU countries praise Tusk's new summit plans

EU capitals voice support for more summits, tackling divisive issues and sometimes deciding by majority - not consensus - as outlined in the European Council president's plan.

Court battles intensifies on MEPs' 'private' expenses

The EU parliament said the public does not have a right to monitor the public role of MEPs, says Natasa Pirc Musar, a lawyer representing journalists, in a transparency battle against the assembly.

Eurogroup closes Schaeuble era

Eurozone finance ministers bade farewell to their longest-serving and most influential colleague, while preparing to also replace its chairman at the end of the year.

Court battles intensifies on MEPs' 'private' expenses

The EU parliament said the public does not have a right to monitor the public role of MEPs, says Natasa Pirc Musar, a lawyer representing journalists, in a transparency battle against the assembly.

EU agencies defend research ahead of glyphosate vote

As the renewal of the weedkiller glyphosate is a hot potato on the EU agenda, with a vote in the Parliament on Thursday, the role of two closely-involved EU agencies has come under scrutiny.

News in Brief

  1. May: EU member states will not lose out with Brexit
  2. Slovakia pledges to be 'pro-European' oasis in region
  3. Report: Catalan leader to address Spanish senate
  4. Fiat-Chrysler 'obstructed justice' reports Le Monde
  5. EU presidency 'confident' on posted workers agreement
  6. Young conservatives boot out Erdogan's party
  7. Tsipras urged to let refugees go before winter sets in
  8. Thousands demand justice in Malta

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Martens CentreI Say Europe, You Say...? Interview With EU Commission VP Jyrki Katainen
  2. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Jinping Proposes Stronger Global Security Governance at Interpol Assembly
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaEU Engagement Could Contribute to Lasting Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
  4. UNICEFViolence in Myanmar Driving 12,000 Rohingya Refugee Children Into Bangladesh Every Week
  5. European Jewish CongressBulgaria Applauded for Adopting the Working Definition of Antisemitism
  6. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  7. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  10. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  11. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  12. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe

Latest News

  1. EU commission denies May 'begged for help' comments
  2. Interpol needs EU help to stop abuse
  3. Glyphosate protesters hold meeting with Commission
  4. Catalan MPs weigh independence declaration
  5. Russia used Interpol 'loophole' against EU activist
  6. Italian regions demand autonomy from Rome
  7. Populist victory puts Czech EU policy in doubt
  8. The mysterious German behind Orban's Russian deals