By Mario García
On 13 February, the Spanish Constitutional Court (“SCC” or the “Court”) handed down its awaited judgment in the Melloni case (STC 26/2014). The case concerned the problematic issue of differing levels of protection of fundamental rights at national and European levels in relation to the execution of a European Arrest Warrant (“EAW”). This affair was the source of the SCC’s first-ever preliminary reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”). Following the CJEU’s ruling last year (Melloni, Case C-399/11, 26 February 2013), which has already been covered in this blog by V. Franssen, the SCC has now agreed to lower the degree of protection afforded by the Spanish Constitution in line with EU law.
By Vanessa Franssen
I plead guilty: this post on the Melloni ruling of the CJEU should have been written long ago. However, instead of invoking attenuating circumstances, I prefer to draw your attention to the reasons why a blog post on this case still is highly relevant today. First, Melloni is a true landmark case with respect to the relation between EU and national standards of fundamental rights in the field of criminal justice. Central issue in this case was whether Member States are still allowed to impose a higher level of fundamental rights’ protection for cross-border cooperation in criminal matters than the standard set by EU law. Second, Melloni has become ‘hot’ again thanks to the recent follow-up judgment of the Spanish Constitutional Court, which shows the real impact of the CJEU’s ruling and which will be discussed in a separate post by M. García García.
This Opinion of Advocate General Bot, given in response to a preliminary reference raised by the Spanish Tribunal Constitucional, gives interesting insights on the relation between national and EU fundamental rights standards, and gives an important interpretation on the ambiguous wording of Article 53 of the Charter on Fundamental Rights. AG Bot reaffirms the autonomous nature of the EU fundamental rights standard. He clearly rejects the idea that Article 53 entails that the Charter merely lays down a minimum standard of rights protection above which Member States would be free to apply a higher –national- standard of protection. However, he admits that a provision of secondary law may be challenged where it infringes national constitutional identity. Continue reading