The moment has come to deliver on this blog’s promise of looking beyond the realm of the English language. For this POMFR post, I would like to present a recently published Festschrift which contains a number of contributions of interest to EU lawyers capable of reading German.
Der Staat im Recht is a Festschrift for Professor Eckart Klein, formerly Ordinarius at the University of Potsdam, which covers a broad range of topics – constitutional law, procedural law, international and human rights law and of course EU law. Now, while there are a number of non-EU law contributions which I found thought-provoking (if you have time, read the rather grim essay on the world dominance of human rights by Isensee, ‘Die heikle Weltherrschaft der Menschenrechte’), I will focus on the EU law contributions for this blog post. Continue reading
On March 20, the Judicial Division of the Netherlands Council of State referred three cases concerning asylum seekers who claim to have been persecuted on account of their sexual orientation to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling. Pursuant to Article 10(1)(d) Qualification Directive, groups with a common characteristic of sexual orientation may fall within the ambit of the minimum level of protection afforded by European asylum law. However, during the initial procedure the asylum seekers concerned failed to convince the Dutch immigration service that they were gay and their application was subsequently denied.
On appeal, their lawyers argued that the mere statement that one is gay, lesbian or bisexual is sufficient proof of an asylum seeker’s sexual orientation. Moreover, the lawyers submitted, any further verification of their sexuality is contrary to, inter alia, Articles 3 and 7 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The Council of State accepted that some questions pertaining to the way in which the applicant experiences, sexually or otherwise, his sexual orientation or how and when the applicant became aware of his sexual orientation may be contrary to the right to personal integrity (art. 3 (1) Charter) and the right to private life as guaranteed in Articles 3 and 7 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and asked the CJEU for guidance on this point. In this post, I will use queer theory in an attempt to substantiate the argument that verification ought to be considered contrary to human rights standards.
We are delighted to welcome this post from Eilionoir Flynn, a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Disability Law and Policy in Galway, Ireland. It will be cross-posted at the Human Rights in Ireland Blog.
Yesterday, the Court of Justice of the European Union handed down its decision in the joined cases of Ring and Skouboe Werge (see judgment here). This ruling is particularly significant as it represents the first decision on the definition of disability under the Framework Directive on Employment 2000/78 since the EU concluded the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2010. In essence, the Court moved away from the restrictive definition it adopted Chacón Navas, and instead interpreted the Framework Directive in light of Article 1 CRPD, which states that
persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.
“The Union shall accede to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.” Article 6, paragraph 2, TEU
The EU took another step towards accession to the ECHR with the finalization, late last week, of the Draft Revised Agreement on the Accession of the EU to the ECHR, after almost three years of negotiations.
However, as Antoine Buyse notes over on ECHR Blog, the road to accession remains long and winding. The next hurdle will be to request an opinion from the Court of Justice on the compatibility of the agreement with the EU Treaties, pursuant to Article 218(11) TFEU. The agreement would then require the unanimous approval of the Council, in addition to the approval of all Member States “in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements” (Article 218(8) TFEU). Finally, the agreement will have to be ratified by all States of the ECHR. Continue reading
In a series of recent judgments, the Fourth Chamber of the General Court of the European Union (“the General Court”) annulled the designation of some of the largest privately held commercial Iranian banks on the EU’s sanctions list. On 11 December 2012, sanctions against Sina Bank (Case T-15/11 Sina Bank v. Council) were annulled. Similarly, sanctions against Bank Mellat (Case T-496/10 Bank Mellat v. Council) were struck down on 29 January 2013. On 5 February, sanctions targeting Bank Saderat (Case T-494/10 Bank Saderat Iran v. Council) met the same fate, further illustrating the General Court’s willingness to annul sanctions if their adoption is not based on sufficient evidence and if the entity concerned is not given ample time to review and respond to the evidence against it.
The EU has significantly tightened its sanctions regime against Iran over the last two years in order to end the proliferation of sensitive nuclear activities and to halt the program the Western world fears is aimed at creating a nuclear bomb. To date, some 30 cases concerning EU sanctions against Iran are still pending before the General Court which include applications by the Central Bank of Iran and the National Iranian Oil Company.
Below, I discuss the Bank Mallat and Bank Saderat judgments before reflecting on the potential implications – if any – of the recent Opinion in Kadi II and the possible ramifications of the cases on the EU’s foreign policy agenda. Continue reading
If one thing resorts clearly from the ACTA saga, it is that the atmosphere of secrecy in which ACTA was negotiated (required allegedly to enable mutual trust between the parties in the negotiations) completely backfired and deteriorated trust in the European Commission by European citizens and the European Parliament, resulting in ACTA’s ultimate demise. In a case decided yesterday by the General Court this tension between secrecy needed for the effective conduct of negotiations and the right of citizens to be informed was readily apparent in determining whether the Commission was acting lawfully in its decision to refuse access to documents related to those negotiations to European Member of Parliament Sophie in ‘t Veld.
Today’s decision by the Grand Chamber in C-617/10 Åkerberg Fransson is a landmark decision on the scope of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, EU constitutional law, and the relationship between national and EU law in general. As I explained in an earlier post, it was not clear, until today, whether the Charter had the same scope of fundamental rights protection as under the ‘old’ regime of fundamental rights protection ensured by the CJEU. The CJEU dealt with the issue head on stating that article 51 (1) of the Charter ‘confirms the Court’s case-law relating to the extent to which actions of the Member States must comply with the requirements flowing from the fundamental rights guaranteed in the legal order of the European Union’ (para. 18).
Fundamental rights review by the Court of Justice of the European Union has frequently been criticized for its rather terse reasoning. In its decision in Sky Österreich, however, the Court engaged in a remarkably comprehensive review of the compatibility of a provision of a directive with the freedom to exercise a profession. Continue reading
One of the hottest topics in international trade law currently is the seals dispute between the EU and a number of arctic countries, notably Canada and Norway. The dispute has not only given rise to proceedings before the WTO (providing more wood for the ongoing fiery debate on the legality of PPM-measures), but has also found its way to Luxembourg in the form of a number of direct actions for annulment of EU regulations banning trade in seal products.
Today’s Opinion of Advocate General Kokott (Opinion in Case C-583/11P Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Others v Parliament and Council) concerns one of those cases. It also concerns one of the most contentious issues in EU law: the locus standi of individuals for a direct action for annulment of EU legal acts (see my previous post on the judgment of the General Court). As is well known, the CJEU has taken a very restrictive stance on the locus standi of non-privileged applicants (that is: individual parties, rather than privileged applicants such as Member States and the EU institutions, as mentioned in the second and third paragraph of article 263 TFEU). The criteria for direct and individual concern are so strict that it is very difficult for individuals to directly challenge EU legal acts. In particular, the requirement for individual concern, also known as the ‘Plaumann formula’ (see the bottom of page 107 in Case 25/62 Plaumann v. Commission), is especially hard for individuals to meet.