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Charter of Fundamental Rights

Posted by Richard Saturday, June 19, 2004

This is one of Blair's "red line" issues, where he did not want the Charter to have direct application in British law. His idea was that the principles should apply only to EU laws.

To protect his "red line", the "colleagues" agreed to insert an amendment to the 5th paragraph of the Preamble of Part II, the whole of which is reproduced below with the crucial amendment in bold.

This Charter reaffirms, with due regard for the powers and tasks of the Union and the principle of subsidiarity, the rights as they result, in particular, from the constitutional traditions and international obligations common to the Member States, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Social Charters adopted by the Union and by the Council of Europe and the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union and of the European Court of Human Rights. In this context the Charter will be interpreted by the courts of the Union and the Member States with due regard to the explanations prepared under the authority of the Praesidium of the Convention which drafted the Charter and updated under the responsibility of the Praesidium of the European Convention.
Clear so far?

And just to make this watertight, they have added a new paragraph 7 to Article II-52: "Scope and interpretation of rights and principles". This reads

The explanations drawn up as a way of providing guidance in the interpretation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights shall be given due regard by the courts of the Union and of the Member States.
Then, to nail the lid down, there is the "Declaration for incorporation in the Final Act concerning the explanations relating to the Charter of Fundamental Rights". This reads:

The Conference takes note of the explanations relating to the Charter of Fundamental Rights prepared under the authority of the Praesidium of the Convention which drafted the Charter and updated under the responsibility of the Praesidium of the European Convention, as set out below.
That’s it folks… Blair’s red line. That’s telling them.

Oh, and by the way, you know that bit about "even closer union" having been removed from the constitution? Actually, it's still there. See the premable to Part II. The first recital reads: "The peoples of Europe, in creating an ever closer union among them, are resolved to share a peaceful future based on common values".

Funny thing is I don't ever remember "creating an ever closer union" and I'm not that sure that my values are that common.