Worth Reading : the “Rule of Law Checklist”, of the Venice Commission adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

On October 11, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) approved a list of six criteria, set out by the Venice Commission in 2016, to clarify the so far undefined notion of the rule of law.

The pragmatic approach of the Venice Commission got round the problem of a formal definition of the notion of “Rule of Law” by setting out specific criteria as resulting by the doctrine and the jurisprudence of the European and national Courts such as:

– legality (implying a procedure for the adoption of legal texts based on transparency, accountability and democracy);
– legal certainty;
– a prohibition on arbitrary measures;
– access to justice before independent and impartial courts with jurisdictional control over administrative acts;
– respect for human rights, and;
– non-discrimination and equality before the law.

Below the text of the Venice Commission Check-list (available also HERE  ( EN, FR, DE, IT and RU)

———

Strasbourg, 18 March 2016    CDL-AD(2016)007 Study No. 711 / 2013  Or. Engl.

EUROPEAN COMMISSION FOR DEMOCRACY THROUGH LAW (VENICE COMMISSION)

RULE OF LAW CHECKLIST

 Adopted by the Venice Commission at its 106th Plenary Session (Venice, 11-12 March 2016)
Endorsed by the Ministers’ Deputies at the 1263th Meeting (6-7 September 2016)
Endorsed by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe at its 31st Session (19-21 October 2016) on the basis of comments by Mr Sergio BARTOLE (Substitute Member, Italy) Ms Veronika BILKOVA (Member, Czech Republic)Ms Sarah CLEVELAND (Member, United States of America)Mr Paul CRAIG (Substitute Member, United Kingdom)Mr Jan HELGESEN (Member, Norway)Mr Wolfgang HOFFMANN-RIEM (Member, Germany)Mr Kaarlo TUORI (Member, Finland)Mr Pieter van DIJK (Former Member, the Netherlands)Sir Jeffrey JOWELL (Former Member, United Kingdom)

TABLE OF CONTENTS (…) 

  1. INTRODUCTION
  1. At its 86th plenary session (March 2011), the Venice Commission adopted the Report on the Rule of Law (CDL-AD(2011)003rev). This report identified common features of the Rule of Law, Rechtsstaat and Etat de droit. A first version of a checklist to evaluate the state of the Rule of Law in single States was appended to this report.
  1. On 2 March 2012, the Venice Commission organised, under the auspices of the UK Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, in co-operation with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom and the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, a conference on “The Rule of Law as a practical concept”. The conclusions of this conference underlined that the Venice Commission would develop the checklist by, inter alia, including some suggestions made at the conference.
  1. A group of experts made up of Mr Bartole, Ms Bilkova, Ms Cleveland, Mr Craig, Mr Helgesen, Mr Hoffmann-Riem, Mr Tuori, Mr van Dijk and Sir Jeffrey Jowell prepared the present detailed version of the checklist.
  1. The Venice Commission wishes to acknowledge the contribution of the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, notably for the compilation of the selected standards in part III. The Commission also wishes to thank the secretariats of the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE), the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), as well as of OSCE/ODIHR and of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) for their cooperation.
  1. The introductive part (I) first explains the purpose and scope of the report and then develops the interrelations between the Rule of Law on the one side and democracy and human rights on the other side (“the Rule of Law in an enabling environment”).
  1. The second part (II, benchmarks) is the core of the checklist and develops the various aspects of the Rule of Law identified in the 2011 report: legality; legal certainty; prevention of abuse of powers; equality before the law and non-discrimination and access to justice; while the last chapter provides two examples of particular challenges to the Rule of Law (corruption and conflict of interest, and collection of data and surveillance).
  1. The third part (III, selected standards) lists the most important instruments of hard and soft law addressing the issue of the Rule of Law.
  1. The present checklist was discussed by the Sub-Commission on the Rule of Law on 17 December 2015 and on 10 March 2016, and was subsequently adopted by the Venice Commission at its 106th plenary session (Venice, 11-12 March 2016).
  1. Purpose and scope
  1. The Rule of Law is a concept of universal validity. The “need for universal adherence to and implementation of the Rule of Law at both the national and international levels” was endorsed by all Members States of the United Nations in the 2005 Outcome Document of the World Summit (§ 134). The Rule of Law, as expressed in the Preamble and in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), is one of the founding values that are shared between the European Union (EU) and its Member States.1 In its 2014 New Framework to Strengthen the Rule of Law, the European Commission recalls that “the principle of the Rule of Law has progressively become a dominant organisational model of modern constitutional law and international organisations /…/ to regulate the exercise of public powers” (pp. 3-4). In an increasing number of cases States refer to the Rule of Law in their national constitutions.2
  1. The Rule of Law has been proclaimed as a basic principle at universal level by the United Nations – for example in the Rule of Law Indicators -, and at regional level by the Organization of American States – namely in the Inter-American Democratic Charter – and the African Union – in particular in its Constitutive Act. References to the Rule of Law may also be found in several documents of the Arab League.
  1. The Rule of Law is mentioned in the Preamble to the Statute of the Council of Europe as one of the three “principles which form the basis of all genuine democracy”, together with individual freedom and political liberty. Article 3 of the Statute makes respect for the principle of the Rule of Law a precondition for accession of new member States to the Organisation. The Rule of Law is thus one of the three intertwined and partly overlapping core principles of the Council of Europe, with democracy and human rights. The close relationship between the Rule of Law and the democratic society has been underlined by the European Court of Human Rights through different expressions: “democratic society subscribing to the Rule of Law”, “democratic society based on the Rule of Law” and, more systematically, “Rule of Law in a democratic society”. The achievement of these three principles – respect for human rights, pluralist democracy and the Rule of Law – is regarded as a single objective – the core objective – of the Council of Europe.
  1. The Rule of Law has been systematically referred to in the major political documents of the Council of Europe, as well as in numerous Conventions and Recommendations. The Rule of Law is notably mentioned as an element of common heritage in the Preamble to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), as a founding principle of European democracies in Resolution Res(2002)12 establishing the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ), and as a priority objective in the Statute of the Venice Commission. However, the Council of Europe texts have not defined the Rule of Law, nor has the Council of Europe created any specific monitoring mechanism for Rule of Law issues.
  1. The Council of Europe has nevertheless acted in several respects with a view to promoting and strengthening the Rule of Law through several of its bodies, notably the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ), the Consultative Council of Judges of Europe (CCJE), the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Commissioner for Human Rights and the Venice Commission.
  1. In its Report on the Rule of Law of 2011,3 the Venice Commission examined the concept of the Rule of Law, following Resolution 1594(2007) of the Parliamentary Assembly which drew attention to the need to ensure a correct interpretation of the terms “Rule of Law”, “Rechtsstaat” and “Etat de droit” or “prééminence du droit”, encompassing the principles of legality and of due process.
  1. The Venice Commission analysed the definitions proposed by various authors coming from different systems of law and State organisation, as well as diverse legal cultures. The Commission considered that the notion of the Rule of Law requires a system of certain and foreseeable law, where everyone has the right to be treated by all decision-makers with dignity, equality and rationality and in accordance with the laws, and to have the opportunity to challenge decisions before independent and impartial courts through fair procedures. The Commission warned against the risks of a purely formalistic concept of the Rule of Law,merely requiring that any action of a public official be authorised by law. “Rule by Law”, or “Rule by the Law”, or even “Law by Rules” are distorted interpretations of the Rule of Law.4
  1. The Commission also stressed that individual human rights are affected not only by the authorities of the State, but also by hybrid (State-private) actors and private entities which perform tasks that were formerly the domain of State authorities, or include unilateral decisions affecting a great number of people, as well as by international and supranational organisations. The Commission recommended that the Rule of Law principles be applied in these areas as well.
  1. The Rule of Law must be applied at all levels of public power. Mutatis mutandis, the principles of the Rule of Law also apply in private law relations. The following definition by Tom Bingham covers most appropriately the essential elements of the Rule of Law: “All persons and authorities within the State, whether public or private, should be bound by and entitled to the benefit of laws publicly made, taking effect (generally) in the future and publicly administered in the courts”.5
  1. In its report, the Commission concluded that, despite differences of opinion, consensus exists on the core elements of the Rule of Law as well as on those of the Rechtsstaat and of the Etat de droit, which are not only formal but also substantive or material (materiellerRechtsstaatsbegriff). These core elements are:

(1) Legality, including a transparent,accountable and democratic process for enacting law;
(2) Legal certainty;
(3) Prohibition of arbitrariness;
(4) Access to justice before independent and impartial courts, including judicial review of administrative acts;
(5) Respect for human rights; and
(6) Non-discrimination and equality before the law.

  1. Since its 2011 Report was oriented towards facilitating a correct and consistent understanding and interpretation of the notion of the Rule of Law and, therefore, aimed at facilitating the practical application of the principles of the Rule of Law, a “checklist for evaluating the state of the Rule of Law in single countries” was appended to the report, listing these six elements, broken down into several sub-parameters.
  1. In 2012, at a conference which the Venice Commission organised in London under the auspices of the UK Foreign Office and in co-operation with the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law, it launched the project to further develop the checklist as a ground-breaking new, functional approach to assessing the state of the Rule of Law in a given State.
  1. In 2013, the Council of the European Union has begun implementing a new Rule of Law Dialogue with the member States, which would take place on an annual basis. It underlined that “respecting the rule of law is a prerequisite for the protection of fundamental rights” and called on the Commission “to take forward the debate in line with the Treaties on the possible need for and shape of a collaborative and systematic method to tackle these issues”.6 In 2014, the European Commission adopted a mechanism for addressing systemic Rule of Law issues in Member States of the European Union (EU). This “new EU Framework to strengthen the Rule of Law” establishes an early warning tool based on “the indications received from available sources and recognised institutions, including the Council of Europe”; “[i]n order to obtain expert knowledge on particular issues relating to the rule of law in Member States, the (European) Commission … will as a rule and in appropriate cases, seek the advice of the Council of Europe and/or its Venice Commission”.7
  1. At the United Nations level, following the publication of “Rule of Law Indicators” in 2011,8 the United Nations General Assembly adopted in 2012 a Declaration of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels, recognising that the “Rule of Law applies to all States equally, and to international organizations”.
  1. The sustainable development agenda with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 169 targets to be delivered by 2030 was unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015. The SDGs, which comprise a number of Goals, are aimed to be truly transformative and have profound implications for the realization of the agenda, envisaging “[a world] in which democracy, good governance and the rule of law, as well as an enabling environment at the national and international levels, are essential for sustainable development…” Goal 16 commits States to “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”. The achievement of Goal 16 will be assessed against a number of targets, some of which incorporate Rule of Law components, such as the development of effective accountable and transparent institutions (target 16.6) and responsive, inclusive participatory and representative decision making at all levels (target 16.7). However, it is Target 16.3, committing States to “Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all” that offers a unique opportunity for revitalizing the relationship between citizens and the State. This Checklist could be a very important tool to assist in the qualitative measurement of Rule of Law indicators in the context of the SDGs.
  1. The present checklist is intended to build on these developments and to provide a tool for assessing the Rule of Law in a given country from the view point of its constitutional and legal structures, the legislation in force and the existing case-law. The checklist aims at enabling an objective, thorough, transparent and equal assessment.
  1. The checklist is mainly directed at assessing legal safeguards. However, the proper implementation of the law is a crucial aspect of the Rule of Law and must therefore also be taken into consideration. That is why the checklist also includes certain complementary benchmarks relating to the practice. These benchmarks are not exhaustive.
  1. Assessing whether the parameters have been met requires sources of verification standards). For legal parameters, these will be the law in force, as well as, for example, in Europe, the legal assessments thereof by the European Court of Human Rights, the Venice Commission, Council of Europe monitoring bodies and other institutional sources. For parameters relating to the practice, multiple sources will have to be used, including institutional ones such as the CEPEJ and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.
  1. The checklist is meant as a tool for a variety of actors who may decide to carry out such an assessment: These may include Parliaments and other State authorities when addressing the need and content of legislative reform, civil society and international organisations, including regional ones – notably the Council of Europe and the European Union. Assessments have to take into account the whole context, and avoid any mechanical application of specific elements of the checklist.
  1. It is not within the mandate of the Venice Commission to proceed with Rule of Law assessments in given countries on its own initiative; however, it is understood that when the Commission, upon request, deals with Rule of Law issues within the framework of the preparation of an opinion relating a given country, it will base its analysis on the parameters of the checklist within the scope of its competence.
  1. The Rule of Law is realised through successive levels achieved in a progressive manner: the more basic the level of the Rule of Law, the greater the demand for it. Full achievement of the Rule of Law remains an on-going task, even in the well-established democracies. Against this background, it should be clear that the parameters of the checklist do not necessarily all have to be cumulatively fulfilled in order for a final assessment on compliance with the Rule of Law to be positive. The assessment will need to take into account which parameters are not met, to what extent, in what combination etc. The issue must be kept under constant review.
  1. The checklist is neither exhaustive nor final: it aims to cover the core elements of the Rule of Law. The checklist could change over time, and be developed to cover other aspects or to go into further detail. New issues might arise that would require its revision. The Venice Commission will therefore provide for a regular updating of the Checklist.
  1. The Rule of Law and human rights are interlinked, as the next chapter will explain. The Rule of Law would just be an empty shell without permitting access to human rights. Vice-versa, the protection and promotion of human rights are realised only through respect for the Rule of Law: a strong regime of Rule of Law is vital to the protection of human rights. In addition, the Rule of Law and several human rights (such as fair trial and freedom of expression) overlap.9 While recognising that the Rule of Law can only be fully realised in an environment that protects human rights, the checklist will expressly deal with human rights only when they are linked to specific aspects of the Rule of Law.10
  1. Since the Venice Commission is a body of the Council of Europe, the checklist emphasises the legal situation in Europe, as expressed in particular in the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights and also of the Court of Justice of the European Union within its specific remit. The Rule of Law is however a universal principle, and this document also refers, where appropriate, to developments at global level as well as in other regions of the world, in particular in part III enumerating international standards.
  1. B The Rule of Law in an enabling environment
  1. The Rule of Law is linked not only to human rights but also to democracy, i.e. to the third basic value of the Council of Europe. Democracy relates to the involvement of the people in the decision-making process in a society; human rights seek to protect individuals from arbitrary and excessive interferences with their freedoms and liberties and to secure human dignity; the Rule of Law focuses on limiting and independently reviewing the exercise of public powers. The Rule of Law promotes democracy by establishing accountability of those wielding public power and by safeguarding human rights, which protect minorities against arbitrary majority rules.
  1. The Rule of Law has become “a global ideal and aspiration”,11 with a common core valid everywhere. This, however, does not mean that its implementation has to be identical regardless of the concrete juridical, historical, political, social or geographical context. While the main components or “ingredients”12 of the Rule of Law are constant, the specific manner in which they are realised may differ from one country to another depending on the local context; in particular on the constitutional order and traditions of the country concerned. This context may also determine the relative weight of each of the components.
  1. Historically, the Rule of Law was developed as a means to restrict State (governmental) power. Human rights were seen as rights against intrusions by holders of this power (“negative rights”). In the meantime the perception of human rights has changed in many States as well as in European and international law. There are several differences in the details, but nonetheless there is a trend to expand the scope of civil and political rights, especially by acknowledging positive obligations of the State to guarantee effective legal protection of human rights vis-à-vis private actors. Relevant terms are “positive obligations to protect”, “horizontal effects of fundamental rights” or “Drittwirkung der Grundrechte“.
  1. The European Court of Human Rights has acknowledged positive obligations in several fields, for instance related to Art. 8 ECHR.13 In several decisions the Court has developed specific positive obligations of the State by combining Art. 8 ECHR and the Rule of Law.14 Even though positive obligations to protect could not be solely derived from the Rule of Law in these cases, the Rule of Law principle creates additional obligations of the State to guarantee that individuals under their jurisdiction have access to effective legal means to enforce the protection of their human rights, in particular in situations when private actors infringe these rights. Thus the Rule of Law creates a benchmark for the quality of laws protecting human rights: legal provisions in this field – and beyond 15 – have to be, inter alia, clear and predictable, and non-discriminatory, and they must be applied by independent courts under procedural guarantees equivalent to those applied in conflicts resulting from interferences with human rights by public authorities.
  1. One of the relevant contextual elements is the legal system at large. Sources of law which enshrine legal rules, thus granting legal certainty, are not identical in all countries: some States adhere largely to statute law, save for rare exceptions, whereas others include adherence to the common law judge-made law.
  1. States may also use different means and procedures – for example related to the fair trial principle – in criminal proceedings(adversarial system as compared to inquisitorial system, right to a jury as compared to the resolution of criminal cases by judges). The material means that are instrumental in guaranteeing fair trial, such as legal aid and other facilities, may also take different forms.
  1. The distribution of powers among the different State institutions may also impact the context in which this checklist is considered. It should be well-adjusted through a system of checks and balances. The exercise of legislative and executive power should be reviewable for its constitutionality and legality by an independent and impartial judiciary. A well-functioning judiciary, whose decisions are effectively implemented, is of the highest importance for the maintenance and enhancement of the Rule of Law.
  1. At the international level, the demands and implications of the Rule of Law reflect the particularities of the international legal system. In many respects that system is far less developed than national constitutional and legal systems. Apart from special regional systems like that of the European Union, international systems have no permanent legislator, and for most cases no judiciary with obligatory jurisdiction, while the democratic characteristics in decision-making are still very weak.
  1. The European Union’s supranational nature led it to develop the concept of Rule of Law as a general principle of law applicable to its own legal system. According to the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union, the Rule of Law includes the supremacy of law, the institutional balance, judicial review, (procedural) fundamental rights, including the right to a judicial remedy, as well as the principles of equality and proportionality.
  1. The contextual elements of the Rule of Law are not limited to legal factors. The presence (or absence) of a shared political and legal culture within a society, and the relationship between that culture and the legal order help to determine to what extent and at what level of concreteness the various elements of the Rule of Law have to be explicitly expressed in written law. Thus, for instance, national traditions in the area of dispute settlement and conflict resolution will have an impact upon the concrete guarantees of fair trial offered in a country. It is important that in every State a robust political and legal culture supports particular Rule of Law mechanisms and procedures, which should be constantly checked, adapted and improved.
  2. 43 The Rule of Law can only flourish in a country whose inhabitants feel collectively responsible for the implementation of the concept, making it an integral part of their own legal, political and social culture.
  3. II BENCHMARKS

 Legality 16

 Supremacy of the law

 Is supremacy of the law recognised?
i. Is there a written Constitution?
ii.Is conformity of legislation with the Constitution ensured?
iii. Is legislation adopted without delay when required by the Constitution? iv. Does the action of the executive branch conform with the Constitution and other laws?17
v. Are regulations adopted without delay when required by legislation?
vi.Is effective judicial review of the conformity of the acts and decisions of the executive branch of government with the law available?
vii. Does such judicial review also apply to the acts and decisions of independent agencies and private actors performing public tasks?
viii. Is effective legal protection of individual human rights vis-à-vis infringements by private actors guaranteed?

  1. State action must be in accordance with and authorised by the law. Whereas the necessity for judicial review of the acts and decisions of the executive and other bodies performing public tasks is universally recognised, national practice is very diverse on how to ensure conformity of legislation with the Constitution. While judicial review is an effective means to reach this goal, there may also be other means to guarantee the proper implementation of the Constitution to ensure respect for the Rule of Law, such as a priori review by a specialised committee.18
  1. Compliance with the law 19

Do public authorities act on the basis of, and in accordance with standing law?20
i.Are the powers of the public authorities defined by law? 21
ii.Is the delineation of powers between different authorities clear?
iii. Are the procedures that public authorities have to follow established by law?
iv. May public authorities operate without a legal basis? Are such cases duly justified?
v. Do public authorities comply with their positive obligations by ensuring implementation and effective protection of human rights?
vi. In cases where public tasks are delegated to private actors, are equivalent guarantees established by law?22

 45. A basic requirement of the Rule of Law is that the powers of the public authorities are defined by law. In so far as legality addresses the actions of public officials, it also requires that they have authorisation to act and that they subsequently act within the limits of the powers that have been conferred upon them, and consequently respect both procedural and substantive law. Equivalent guarantees should be established by law whenever public powers are delegated to private actors – especially but not exclusively coercive powers. Furthermore, public authorities must actively safeguard the fundamental rights of individuals vis-à-vis other private actors.23

46. “Law” covers not only constitutions, international law, statutes and regulations, but also, where appropriate, judge-made law,24 such as common-law rules, all of which is of a binding nature. Any law must be accessible and foreseeable.25

  1. Relationship between international law and domestic law

Does the domestic legal system ensure that the State abide by its binding obligations under international law? In particular: i. Does it ensure compliance with human rights law, including binding decisions of international courts? ii. Are there clear rules on the implementation of these obligations into domestic law? 26

47. The principle pacta sunt servanda (agreements must be kept) is the way in which international law expresses the principle of legality. It does not deal with the way in which international customary or conventional law is implemented in the internal legal order, but a State “may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty” 27 or to respect customary international law.

48. The principle of the Rule of Law does not impose a choice between monism and dualism, but pacta sunt servanda applies regardless of the national approach to the relationship between international and internal law. At any rate, full domestic implementation of international law is crucial. When international law is part of domestic law, it is binding law within the meaning of the previous paragraph relating to supremacy of law (II.A.2). This does not mean, however, that it should always have supremacy over the Constitution or ordinary legislation.

  1. Law-making powers of the executive

Is the supremacy of the legislature ensured? i. Are general and abstract rules included in an Act of Parliament or a regulation based on that Act, save for limited exceptions provided for in the Constitution? ii. What are these exceptions? Are they limited in time? Are they controlled by Parliament and the judiciary? Is there an effective remedy against abuse?iii.       When legislative power is delegated by Parliament to the executive, are the objectives, contents, and scope of the delegation of power explicitly defined in a legislative act? 28

49. Unlimited powers of the executive are, de jure or de facto, a central feature of absolutist and dictatorial systems. Modern constitutionalism has been built against such systems and therefore ensures supremacy of the legislature.29

  1. 5 Law-making procedures

Is the process for enacting law transparent, accountable, inclusive and democratic? i. Are there clear constitutional rules on the legislative procedure?30 ii. Is Parliament supreme in deciding on the content of the law? iii.      Is proposed legislation debated publicly by parliament and adequately justified (e.g. by explanatory reports)?31 iv. Does the public have access to draft legislation, at least when it is submitted to Parliament? Does the public have a meaningful opportunity to provide input? 32 v.Where appropriate, are impact assessments made before adopting legislation (e.g. on the human rights and budgetary impact of laws)?33 vi.Does the Parliament participate in the process of drafting, approving, incorporating and implementing international treaties?

50. As explained in the introductory part, the Rule of Law is connected with democracy in that it promotes accountability and access to rights which limit the powers of the majority.

  1. Exceptions in emergency situations

Are exceptions in emergency situations provided for by law? i. Are there specific national provisions applicable to emergency situations (war or other public emergency threatening the life of the nation)? Are derogations to human rights possible in such situations under national law? What are the circumstances and criteria required in order to trigger an exception? ii. Does national law prohibit derogation from certain rights even in emergency situations? Are derogations proportionate, that is limited to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation, in duration, circumstance and scope? 34 iii. Are the possibilities for the executive to derogate from the normal division of powers in emergency circumstances also limited in duration, circumstance and scope? iv.What is the procedure for determining an emergency situation? Are there parliamentary control and judicial review of the existence and duration of an emergency situation, and the scope of any derogation thereunder?

51. The security of the State and of its democratic institutions, and the safety of its officials and population, are vital public and private interests that deserve protection and may lead to a temporary derogation from certain human rights and to an extraordinary division of powers. However, emergency powers have been abused by authoritarian governments to stay in power, to silence the opposition and to restrict human rights in general. Strict limits on the duration, circumstance and scope of such powers is therefore essential. State security and public safety can only be effectively secured in a democracy which fully respects the Rule of Law.35 This requires parliamentary control and judicial review of the existence and duration of a declared emergency situation in order to avoid abuse.

52. The relevant provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of the European Convention on Human Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights are similar.36 They provide for the possibility of derogations (as distinguished from mere limitations of the rights guaranteed) only in highly exceptional circumstances. Derogations are not possible from “the so-called absolute rights: the right to life, the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and of slavery, and the nullum crimen, nulla poena principle” among others.37

  1. Duty to implement the law

What measures are taken to ensure that public authorities effectively implement the law i. Are obstacles to the implementation of the law analysed before and after its adoption? ii. Are there effective remedies against non-implementation of legislation? iii. Does the law provide for clear and specific sanctions for non-obedience of the law? 38 iv. Is there a solid and coherent system of law enforcement by public authorities to enforce these sanctions ? v. Are these sanctions consistently applied?

53. Although full enforcement of the law is rarely possible, a fundamental requirement of the Rule of Law is that the law must be respected. This means in particular that State bodies must effectively implement laws. The very essence of the Rule of Law would be called in question if law appeared only in the books but were not duly applied and enforced.39 The duty to implement the law is threefold, since it implies obedience to the law by individuals, the duty reasonably to enforce the law by the State and the duty of public officials to act within the limits of their conferred powers.

54. Obstacles to the effective implementation of the law can occur not only due to the illegal or negligent action of authorities, but also because the quality of legislation makes it difficult to implement. Therefore, assessing whether the law is implementable in practice before adopting it, as well as checking a posteriori whether it may be and is effectively applied is very important. This means that ex ante and ex post legislative evaluation has to be performed when addressing the issue of the Rule of Law.

55. Proper implementation of legislation may also be obstructed by the absence of sufficient sanctions (lex imperfecta), as well as by an insufficient or selective enforcement of the relevant sanctions.

  1. Private actors in charge of public tasks

Does the law guarantee that non-State entities which, fully or in part, have taken on traditionally public tasks, and whose actions and decisions have a similar impact on ordinary people as those of public authorities, are subject to the requirements of the Rule of Law and accountable in a manner comparable to those of public authorities?40

56. There are a number of areas where hybrid (State-private) actors or private entities exercise powers that traditionally have been the domain of State authorities, including in the fields of prison management and health care. The Rule of Law must apply to such situations as well.

  1. Legal certainty
  2. Accessibility of legislation

 Are laws accessible?

i. Are all legislative acts published before entering into force? ii. Are they easily accessible, e.g. free of charge via the Internet and/or in an official bulletin?

  1. Accessibility of court decisions

Are counts decisions accessible? i. Are court decisions easily accessible to the public?41 ii. Are exemptions sufficiently justified?

57. As court decisions can establish, elaborate upon and clarify law, their accessibility is part of legal certainty. Limitations can be justified in order to protect individual rights, for instance those of juveniles in criminal cases.

3. Foreseeability of the laws

Are the effects of laws foreseeable?42 i. Are the laws written in an intelligible manner? ii. Does new legislation clearly state whether (and which) previous legislation is repealed or amended? Are amendments incorporated in a consolidated, publicly accessible, version of the law?

58. Foreseeability means not only that the law must, where possible, be proclaimed in advance of implementation and be foreseeable as to its effects: it must also be formulated with sufficient precision and clarity to enable legal subjects to regulate their conduct in conformity with it.43

59. The necessary degree of foreseeability depends however on the nature of the law. In particular, it is essential in criminal legislation. Precaution in advance of dealing with concrete dangers has now become increasingly important; this evolution is legitimate due to the multiplication of the risks resulting in particular from the changing technology. However, in the areas where the precautionary approach of laws apply, such as risk law, the prerequisites for State action are outlined in terms that are considerably broader and more imprecise, but the Rule of Law implies that the principle of foreseeability is not set aside.

  1. Stability and consistency of law

Are laws stable and consistent?
i Are laws stable, to the extent that they are changed only with fair warning ? 44 ii. Are they consistently applied?

60. Instability and inconsistency of legislation or executive action may affect a person’s ability to plan his or her actions. However, stability is not an end in itself: law must also be capable of adaptation to changing circumstances. Law can be changed, but with public debate and notice, and without adversely affecting legitimate expectations (see next item).

Legitimate expectations

Is respect for the principle of legitimate expectations ensured?

61. The principle of legitimate expectations is part of the general principle of legal certainty in European Union law, derived from national laws. It also expresses the idea that public authorities should not only abide by the law but also by their promises and raised expectations. According to the legitimate expectation doctrine, those who act in good faith on the basis of law as it is, should not be frustrated in their legitimate expectations. However, new situations may justify legislative changes going frustrating legitimate expectations in exceptional cases. This doctrine applies not only to legislation but also to individual decisions by public authorities.45

  1. Non-retroactivity

Is retroactivity of legislation prohibited? i. Is retroactivity of criminal legislation prohibited? ii.To what extent is there also a general prohibition on the retroactivity of other laws? 46 iii.  Are there exceptions, and, if so, under which conditions?

  1. Nullum crimen sine lege and nulla poena sine lege principles

Do the nullum crimen sine lege and nulla poena sine lege (no crime, no penalty without a law) principles apply?

62. People must be informed in advance of the consequences of their behaviour. This implies foreseeability (above II.B.3) and non-retroactivity especially of criminal legislation. In civil and administrative law, retroactivity may negatively affect rights and legal interests.47 However, outside the criminal field, a retroactive limitation of the rights of individuals or imposition of new duties may be permissible, but only if in the public interest and in conformity with the principle of proportionality (including temporally). The legislator should not interfere with the application of existing legislation by courts.

  1. Res judicata 48

Is respect of res judicata ensured? i. Is respect for the ne bis in idem principle (prohibition against double jeopardy) ensured? ii. May final judicial decisions be revised? iii. If so, under which conditions?

63. Res judicata implies that when an appeal has been finally adjudicated, further appeals are not possible. Final judgments must be respected, unless there are cogent reasons for revising them.49

C. Prevention of abuse (misuse) of powers 50

Are there legal safeguards against arbitrariness and abuse of power (détournement de pouvoir) by public authorities? i.If yes, what is the legal source of this guarantee (Constitution, statutory law, case-law)?ii. Are there clear legal restrictions to discretionary power, in particular when exercised by the executive in administrative action?51 iii. Are there mechanisms to prevent, correct and sanction abuse of discretionary powers (détournement de pouvoir)? When discretionary power is given to officials, is there judicial review of the exercise of such power? iv. Are public authorities required to provide adequate reasons for their decisions, in particular when they affect the rights of individuals? Is the failure to state reasons a valid ground for challenging such decisions in courts?

64. An exercise of power that leads to substantively unfair, unreasonable, irrational or oppressive decisions violates the Rule of Law.

65. It is contrary to the Rule of Law for executive discretion to be unfettered power. Consequently, the law must indicate the scope of any such discretion, to protect against arbitrariness.

66. Abuse of discretionary power should be controlled by judicial or other independent review. Available remedies should be clear and easily accessible.

67. Access to an ombudsperson or another form of non-contentious jurisdiction may also be appropriate.

68. The obligation to give reasons should also apply to administrative decisions.52

Equality before the law and non-discrimination

Principle

 Does the Constitution enshrine the principle of equal treatment, the commitment of the State to promote equality as well as the right of individuals to be free from discrimination?

Non-discrimination 53

Is respect for the principle of non-discrimination ensured? i. Does the constitution prohibit discrimination? ii. Is non-discrimination effectively guaranteed by law? iii.       Do the Constitution and/or legislation clearly define and prohibit both direct and indirect discrimination?

 69. The principle of non-discrimination requires the prohibition of any unjustified unequal treatment under the law and/or by law, and that all persons have guaranteed equal and effective protection against discrimination on grounds such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or other status.

      1. Equality in law

 Is equality in law guaranteed? i. Does the constitution require legislation (including regulations) to respect the principle of equality in law? 54 ii. Does it provide that differentiations have to be objectively justified? Can legislation violating the principle of equality be challenged in the court? iii. Are there individuals or groups with special legal privileges? Are these exceptions and/or privileges based on a legitimate aim and in conformity with the principle of proportionality? iv.Are positive measures expressly provided for the benefit of particular groups, including national minorities, in order to address structural inequalities?

70. Legislation must respect the principle of equality: it must treat similar situations equally and different situations differently and guarantee equality with respect to any ground of potential discrimination.

71. For example, rules on parliamentary immunities, and more specifically on inviolability, “should … be regulated in a restrictive manner, and it should always be possible to lift such immunity, following clear and impartial procedures. Inviolability, if applied, should be lifted unless justified with reference to the case at hand and proportional and necessary in order to protect the democratic workings of Parliament and the rights of the political opposition”.55

72. “The law should provide that the prohibition of discrimination does not prevent the maintenance or adoption of temporary special measures designed either to prevent or compensate for disadvantages suffered by persons on grounds [of belonging to a particular group], or to facilitate their full participation in all fields of life. These measures should not be continued once the intended objectives have been achieved.” 56

      1. Equality before the law

 Is equality before the law guaranteed? i. Does the national legal order clearly provide that the law applies equally to every person irrespective of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth or status?57 ii. Does it provide that differentiations have to be objectively justified, on the basis of a reasonable aim, and in conformity with the principle of proportionality? 58 iii. Is there an effective remedy against discriminatory or unequal application of legislation? 59

73. The Rule of Law requires the universal subjection of all to the law. It implies that law should be equally applied, and consistently implemented. Equality is however not merely a formal criterion, but should result in substantively equal treatment. To reach that end, differentiations may have to be tolerated and may even be required. For example, affirmative action may be a way to ensure substantive equality in limited circumstances so as to redress past disadvantage or exclusion.60

 Access to justice 6

      1. Independence and impartiality
      1. Independence of the judiciary

Are there sufficient constitutional and legal guarantees of judicial independence? i. Are the basic principles of judicial independence, including objective procedures and criteria for judicial appointments, tenure and discipline and removals, enshrined in the Constitution or ordinary legislation?62 ii. Are judges appointed for life time or until retirement age? Are grounds for removal limited to serious breaches of disciplinary or criminal provisions established by law, or where the judge can no longer perform judicial functions? Is the applicable procedure clearly prescribed in law? Are there legal remedies for the individual judge against a dismissal decision?63 iii. Are the grounds for disciplinary measures clearly defined and are sanctions limited to intentional offences and gross negligence?64 iv. Is an independent body in charge of such procedures?65 v. Is this body not only comprised of judges? vi. Are the appointment and promotion of judges based on relevant factors, such as ability, integrity and experience?66 Are these criteria laid down in law? vii. Under which conditions is it possible to transfer judges to another court? Is the consent of the judge to the transfer required? Can the judge appeal the decision of transfer? viii. Is there an independent judicial council? Is it grounded in the Constitution or a law on the judiciary?67 If yes, does it ensure adequate representation of judges as well as lawyers and the public?68 ix. May judges appeal to the judicial council for violation of their independence? x.Is the financial autonomy of the judiciary guaranteed? In particular, are sufficient resources allocated to the courts, and is there a specific article in the budget relating to the judiciary, excluding the possibility of reductions by the executive, except if this is done through a general remuneration measure?69 Does the judiciary or the judicial council have input into the budgetary process? xi. Are the tasks of the prosecutors mostly limited to the criminal justice field?70 xii. Is the judiciary perceived as independent? What is the public’s perception about possible political influences or manipulations in the appointment and promotion of the judges/prosecutors, as well as on their decisions in individual cases? If it exists, does the judicial council effectively defend judges against undue attacks? xiii. Do the judges systematically follow prosecutors’ requests (“prosecutorial bias”)? xiv. Are there fair and sufficient salaries for judges?

74. The judiciary should be independent. Independence means that the judiciary is free from external pressure, and is not subject to political influence or manipulation, in particular by the executive branch. This requirement is an integral part of the fundamental democratic principle of the separation of powers. Judges should not be subject to political influence or manipulation.

75. The European Court of Human Rights highlights four elements of judicial independence: manner of appointment, term of office, the existence of guarantees against outside pressure – including in budgetary matters – and whether the judiciary appears as independent and impartial.71

76. Limited or renewable terms in office may make judges dependent on the authority which appointed them or has the power to re-appoint them.

77. Legislation on dismissal may encourage disguised sanctions.

78. Offences leading to disciplinary sanctions and their legal consequences should be set out clearly in law. The disciplinary system should fulfil the requirements of procedural fairness by way of a fair hearing and the possibility of appeal(s) (see section II.E.2 below).

79. It is important that the appointment and promotion of judges is not based upon political or personal considerations, and the system should be constantly monitored to ensure that this is so.

80. Though the non-consensual transfer of judges to another court may in some cases be lawfully applied as a sanction, it could also be used as a kind of a politically-motivated tool under the disguise of a sanction.72 Such transfer is however justified in principle in cases of legitimate institutional reorganisation.

81. “[I]t is an appropriate method for guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary that an independent judicial council have decisive influence on decisions on the appointment and career of judges”. Judicial councils “should have a pluralistic composition with a substantial part, if not the majority, of members being judges.”73 That is the most effective way to ensure that decisions concerning the selection and career of judges are independent from the government and administration.74 There may however be other acceptable ways to appoint an independent judiciary.

82. Conferring a role on the executive is only permissible in States where these powers are restrained by legal culture and traditions, which have grown over a long time, whereas the involvement of Parliament carries a risk of politicisation.75 Involving only judges carries the risk of raising a perception of self-protection, self-interest and cronyism. As concerns the composition of the judicial council, both politicisation and corporatism must be avoided.76 An appropriate balance should be found between judges and lay members.77 The involvement of other branches of government must not pose threats of undue pressure on the members of the Council and the whole judiciary.78

83. Sufficient resources are essential to ensuring judicial independence from State institutions, and private parties, so that the judiciary can perform its duties with integrity and efficiency, thereby fostering public confidence in justice and the Rule of Law 79 Executive power to reduce the judiciary’s budget is one example of how the resources of the judiciary may be placed under undue pressure.

84. The public prosecutor’s office should not be permitted to interfere in judicial cases outside its standard role in the criminal justice system – e.g. under the model of the “Prokuratura”. Such power would call into question the work of the judiciary and threaten its independence.80

85. Benchmarks xii-xiv deal, first of all, with the perception of the independence of the judiciary. The prosecutorial bias is an example of absence of independence, which may be encouraged by the possibility of sanctions in case of “wrong” judgments. Finally, fair and sufficient salaries are a concrete aspect of financial autonomy of the judiciary. They are a means to prevent corruption, which may endanger the independence of the judiciary not only from other branches of government, but also from individuals. 81

      1. Independence of individual judges

Are there sufficient constitutional and legal guarantees for the independence of individual judges? i. Are judicial activities subject to the supervision of higher courts – outside the appeal framework -, court presidents, the executive or other public bodies? ii. Does the Constitution guarantee the right to a competent judge (“natural judge pre-established by law”)82? iii. Does the law clearly determine which court is competent? Does it set rules to solve any conflicts of competence? iv. Does the allocation of cases follow objective and transparent criteria? Is the withdrawal of a judge from a case excluded other than in case a recusal by one of the parties or by the judge him/herself has been declared founded? 83

86. The independence of individual judges must be ensured, as also must the independence of the judiciary from the legislative and, especially, executive branches of government.

87. The possibility of appealing judgments to a higher court is a common element in judicial systems and must be the only way of review of judges when applying the law. Judges should not be subject to supervision by their colleague-judges, and a fortiori to any executive hierarchical power, exercised for example by civil servants. Such supervision would contravene their individual independence, and consequently violate the Rule of Law84.

88. “The guarantee can be understood as having two aspects. One relates to the court as a whole. The other relates to the individual judge or judicial panel dealing with the case. … It is not enough if only the court (or the judicial branch) competent for a certain case is determined in advance. That the order in which the individual judge (or panel of judges) within a court is determined in advance, meaning that it is based on general objective principles, is essential”.85

      1. Impartiality of the judiciary 86

Are there specific constitutional and legal rules providing for the impartiality of the judiciary? 87 i. What is the public’s perception of the impartiality of the judiciary and of individual judges? ii. Is there corruption in the judiciary? Are specific measures in place against corruption in the judiciary (e.g. a declaration of assets)? What is the public’s perception on this issue?88

89. Impartiality of the judiciary must be ensured in practice as well as in the law. The classical formula, as expressed for example by the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, is that “justice must not only be done, it must also be seen to be done”.89 This implies objective as well as subjective impartiality. The public’s perception can assist in assessing whether the judiciary is impartial in practice.

90. Declaration of assets is a means of fighting corruption because it can highlight any conflict of interest and possibly lead to scrutiny of any unusual income.90

      1. The prosecution service: autonomy and control

Is sufficient autonomy of the prosecution service ensured? i. Does the office of the public prosecution have sufficient autonomy within the State structure? Does it act on the basis of the law rather than of political expediency? 91 ii. Is it permitted that the executive gives specific instructions to the prosecution office on particular cases? If yes, are they reasoned, in writing, and subject to public scrutiny? 92 iii. May a senior prosecutor give direct instructions to a lower prosecutor on a particular case? If yes, are they reasoned and in written form? iv. Is there a mechanism for a junior prosecutor to contest the validity of the instruction on the basis of the illegal character or improper grounds of the instruction?v. Also, can the prosecutor contesting the validity of the instruction request to be replaced? 93 vi. Is termination of office permissible only when prosecutors reach the retirement age, or for disciplinary purposes, or, alternatively, are the prosecutors appointed for a relatively long period of time without the possibility of renewal?94  vii.       Are these matters and the grounds for dismissal of prosecutors clearly prescribed by law?95 viii.      Are there legal remedies for the individual prosecutor against a dismissal decision? 96 ix.Is the appointment, transfer and promotion of prosecutors based on objective factors, in particular ability, integrity and experience, and not on political considerations? Are such principles laid down in law ? x.Are there fair and sufficient salaries for prosecutors?97 xi. Is there a perception that prosecutorial policies allow selective enforcement of the law?xii.       Is prosecutorial action subject to judicial control?

91. There is no common standard on the organisation of the prosecution service, especially about the authority required to appoint public prosecutors, or the internal organisation of the public prosecution service. However, sufficient autonomy must be ensured to shield prosecutorial authorities from undue political influence. In conformity with the principle of legality, the public prosecution service must act only on the basis of, and in accordance with, the law.98 This does not prevent the law from giving prosecutorial authorities some discretion when deciding whether to initiate a criminal procedure or not (opportunity principle).99

92. Autonomy must also be ensured inside the prosecution service. Prosecutors must not be submitted to strict hierarchical instructions without any discretion, and should be in a position not to apply instructions contradicting the law.

93. The concerns relating to the judiciary apply, mutatis mutandis, to the prosecution service, including the importance of assessing legal regulations, as well as practice.

94. Here again,100 sufficient remuneration is an important element of autonomy and a safeguard against corruption.

95. Bias on the part of public prosecution services could lead to improper prosecution, or to selective prosecution, in particular on behalf of those in, or close to, power. This would jeopardise the implementation of the legal system and is therefore a danger to the Rule of Law. Public perception is essential in identifying such a bias.

96. As in other fields, the existence of a legal remedy open to individuals whose rights have been affected is essential to ensuring that the Rule of Law is respected.

      1. Independence and impartiality of the Bar

Are the independence and impartiality of the Bar ensured? i. Is there a recognised, organised and independent legal profession (Bar)?101 ii. Is there a legal basis for the functioning of the Bar, based on the principles of independence, confidentiality and professional ethics, and the avoidance of conflicts of interests? iii. Is access to the Bar regulated in an objective and sufficiently open manner,also as remuneration and legal aid are concerned? iv. Are there effective and fair disciplinary procedures at the Bar? v.What is the public’s perception about the Bar’s independence?

 97.  The Bar plays a fundamental role in assisting the judicial system. It is therefore crucial that it is organised so as to ensure its independence and proper functioning. This implies that legislation provides for the main features of its independence and that access to the Bar is sufficiently open to make the right to legal counsel effective. Effective and fair criminal and disciplinary proceedings are necessary to ensure the independence and impartiality of the lawyers.

98. Professional ethics imply inter alia that “[a] lawyer shall maintain independence and be afforded the protection such independence offers in giving clients unbiased advice and representation”102. He or she “shall at all times maintain the highest standards of honesty, integrity and fairness towards the lawyer’s clients, the court, colleagues and all those with whom the lawyer comes into professional contact”,103 “shall not assume a position in which a client’s interest conflict with those of the lawyer”104 and “shall treat client interest as paramount”.105

Fair trial 106

 Access to courts

Do individuals have an effective access to courts? i. Locus standi (right to bring an action): Does an individual have an easily accessible and effective opportunity to challenge a private or public act that interferes with his/her rights?107 ii. Is the right to defence guaranteed, including through effective legal assistance?108 If yes, what is the legal source of this guarantee? iii. Is legal aid accessible to parties who do not have sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, when the interests of justice so require? 109 iv. Are formal requirements,110 time-limits111 and court fees reasonable?112 v. Is access to justice easy in practice?113 What measures are taken to make easy? vi.Is suitable information on the functioning of the judiciary available to the public?

99. Individuals are usually not in a position to bring judicial proceedings on their own. Legal assistance is therefore crucial and should be available to everyone. Legal aid should also be provided to those who cannot afford it.

100. This question addresses a number of procedural obstacles which may jeopardise access to justice. Excessive formal requirements may lead to even serious and well-grounded cases being declared inadmissible. Their complexity may further necessitate recourse to a lawyer even in straightforward cases with little financial impact. Simplified standardised forms easily accessible to the public should be available to simplify judicial procedures.

101. Very short time-limits may in practice prevent individuals from exercising their rights. High fees may discourage a number of individuals, especially those with a low income, from bringing their case to court.

102. Responses to the preceding questions concerning procedural obstacles, should enable a preliminary conclusion to be made regarding how access to the court is guaranteed. However, a complete reply should take into account the public’s perception on these matters.

103. The judiciary should not be perceived as remote from the public and shrouded in mystery. The availability, in particular on the internet, of clear information regarding how to bring a case to court is one way of guaranteeing effective public engagement with the judicial system. Information should be easily accessible to the whole population, including vulnerable groups and also made available in the languages of national minorities and/or migrants. Lower courts should be well-distributed around the country and their court houses easily accessible.

Presumption of innocence114

Is the presumption of innocence guaranteed? i. Is the presumption of innocence guaranteed by law? ii. Are there clear and fair rules on the burden of proof? iii. Are there legal safeguards which aim at preventing other branches of government from making statements on the guilt of the accused? 115 iv. Is the right to remain silent and not to incriminate oneself nor members of one’s family ensured by law and in practice? 116 v. Are there guarantees against excessive pre-trial detention?117

104. The presumption of innocence is essential in ensuring the right to a fair trial. In order for the presumption of innocence to be guaranteed, the burden of proof must be on the prosecution.118 Rules and practice concerning the required proof have to be clear and fair. The unintentional or purposeful exercise of influence by other branches of government on the competent judicial authority by prejudging the assessment of the facts must be avoided. The same holds good for certain private sources of opinion like the media. Excessive pre-trial detention may be considered as prejudging the accused’s guilt.119

Other aspects of the right to a fair trial

Are additional fair trial standards enshrined in law and applied in practice? i. Is equality of arms guaranteed by law? Is it ensured in practice?120 ii. Are there rules excluding unlawfully obtained evidence?121 iii. Are proceedings started and judicial decisions made without undue delay?122 Is there a remedy against undue lengths of proceedings?123 iv. Is the right to timely access to court documents and files ensured for litigants?124 v. Is the right to be heard guaranteed?125 vi.Are judgments well-reasoned?126 vii. Are hearings and judgments public except for the cases provided for in Article 6.1 ECHR or for in absentia trials? viii. Are appeal procedures available, in particular in criminal cases? 127 ix. Are court notifications delivered properly and promptly?

 105. The right to appeal against a judicial decision is expressly guaranteed by Article 2 Protocol 7 ECHR and Article 14.5 ICCPR in the criminal field, and by Article 8.2.h ACHR in general. This is a general principle of the Rule of Law often guaranteed at constitutional or legislative level by domestic legislation, in particular in the criminal field. Any court whose decisions cannot be appealed would run the risk of acting arbitrarily.

106. All aspects of the right to a fair trial developed above may be inferred from the right to a fair trial as defined in Article 6 ECHR, as elaborated in the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. They ensure that legal subjects are properly involved in the whole judicial process.

Effectiveness of judicial decisions

Are judicial decisions effective? i. Are judgments effectively and promptly executed?128 ii. Are complaints for non-execution of judgments before national courts and/or the European Court of Human Rights frequent? iii. What is the perception of the effectiveness of judicial decisions by the public?

107. Judicial decisions are essential to the implementation of the Constitution and of legislation. The right to a fair trial and the Rule of Law in general would be devoid of any substance if judicial decisions were not executed.

3 Constitutional justice (if applicable)

Is constitutional justice ensured in States which provide for constitutional review (by specialised constitutional courts or by supreme courts)? i. Do individuals have effective access to constitutional justice against general acts, i.e., may individuals request constitutional review of the law by direct action or by constitutional objection in ordinary court proceedings?129 What “interest to sue” is required on their part? ii. Do individuals have effective access to constitutional justice against individual acts which affect them, i.e. may individuals request constitutional review of administrative acts or court decisions through direct action or by constitutional objection?130 iii. Are Parliament and the executive obliged, when adopting new legislative or regulatory provisions, to take into account the arguments used by the Constitutional Court or equivalent body? Do they take them into account in practice? iv. Do Parliament or the executive fill legislative/regulatory gaps identified by the Constitutional Court or equivalent body within a reasonable time?v. Where judgments of ordinary courts are repealed in constitutional complaint proceedings, are the cases re-opened and settled by the ordinary courts taking into account the arguments used by the Constitutional Court or equivalent body? 131 vi. If constitutional judges are elected by Parliament, is there a requirement for a qualified majority132 and other safeguards for a balanced composition?133 vii. Is there an ex ante control of constitutionality by the executive and or/legislative branches of government?

108. The Venice Commission usually recommends providing for a constitutional court or equivalent body. What is essential is an effective guarantee of the conformity of governmental action, including legislation, with the Constitution. There may be other ways to ensure such conformity. For example, Finnish law provides at the same time for a priori review of constitutionality by the Constitutional Law Committee and for a posteriori judicial control in case the application of a statutory provision would lead to an evident conflict with the Constitution. In the specific national context, this has proven sufficient.134

109. Full judicial review of constitutionality is indeed the most effective means to ensure respect for the Constitution, and includes a number of aspects which are set out in detail above. First, the question of locus standi is very important: leaving the possibility to ask for a review of constitutionality only to the legislative or executive branch of government may severely limit the number of cases and therefore the scope of the review. Individual access to constitutional jurisdiction has therefore been developed in a vast majority of countries, at least in Europe.135 Such access may be direct or indirect (by way of an objection raised before an ordinary court, which refers the issue to the constitutional court).136 Second, there should be no limitation as to the kinds of acts which can be submitted to constitutional review: it must be possible to do so for (general) normative as well as for individual (administrative or judicial) acts. However, an individual interest may be required on the part of a private applicant.

110. The right to a fair trial imposes the implementation of all courts’ decisions, including those of the constitutional jurisdiction. The mere cancellation of legislation violating the Constitution is not sufficient to eliminate every effect of a violation, and would at any rate be impossible in cases of unconstitutional legislative omission.

111. This is why this document underlines the importance of Parliament adopting legislation in line with the decision of the Constitutional Court or equivalent body.137 What was said about the legislator and the executive is also true for courts: they have to remedy the cases where the constitutional jurisdiction found unconstitutionality, on the basis of the latter’s arguments.

112. “The legitimacy of a constitutional jurisdiction and society’s acceptance of its decisions may depend very heavily on the extent of the court’s consideration of the different social values at stake, even though such values are generally superseded in favour of common values. To this end, a balance which ensures respect for different sensibilities must be entrenched in the rules of composition of these jurisdictions”.138 A qualified majority implies a political compromise and is a way to ensure a balanced composition when no party or coalition has such a majority.

113. Even in States where ex post control by a constitutional or supreme court is possible, ex ante control by the executive or legislative branch of government helps preventing unconstitutionalities.

Examples of particular challenges to the Rule of Law

114. There are many examples where particular actions and decisions offend the Rule of Law. However, because they are topical and pervasive at the time of the drafting of this document, two such examples are presented in this section: corruption and conflict of interest; and collection of data and surveillance.

Corruption 139 and conflict of interest

Preventive measures

What are the preventive measures taken against corruption? i. In the exercise of public duties, are specific rules of conduct applicable to public officials? Do these rules take into account: (1) the promotion of integrity in public life by means of general duties (impartiality and neutrality etc.); (2) restrictions on gifts and other benefits; (3) safeguards with respect to the use of public resources and information which is not meant to be public; (4) regulations on contacts with third parties and persons seeking to influence a public decision including governmental and parliamentary work? ii. Are there rules aimed at preventing conflicts of interest in decision-making by public officals, e.g. by requiring disclosure of any conflicts in advance? iii. Are all categories of public officials covered by the above measures, e.g. civil servants, elected or appointed senior officials at State and local levels, judges and other holders of judicial functions, prosecutors etc. ? iv. Are certain categories of public officials subject to a system of disclosure of income, assets and interests, or to further requirements at the beginning and the end of a public office or mandate e.g. specific integrity requirements for appointment, professional disqualifications, post-employment restrictions (to limit revolving doors or so-called “pantouflage”)? v. Have specific preventative measures been taken in specific sectors which are exposed to high risks of corruption, e.g. to ensure an adequate level of transparency and supervision over public tenders, and the financing of political parties and election campaigns?

Criminal law measures

What are the criminal law measures taken against corruption? i. To what extent does bribery involving a public official constitute an offence? ii. Is corruption defined in policy documents or other texts, in conformity with international standards? Are there criminal law provisions aimed at preserving public integrity, e.g. trading in influence, abuse of office, breach of official duties? iii. Which public officials are within the scope of such measures, e.g. civil servants, elected or appointed senior officials including the head of State and members of government and public assemblies, judges and other holders of judicial functions, prosecutors etc. ? iv. What consequences are attached to convictions for corruption-related offences? Do these include additional consequences such as exclusion from a public office or confiscation of profits?

Effective compliance with, and implementation of preventive and repressive measures

How is effective compliance with the above measures ensured? i. How is the overall level of compliance with anti-corruption measures and policies perceived domestically? ii. Does the State comply with the results of international monitoring in this field? Are effective, proportionate and dissuasive criminal and administrative sanctions provided for corruption-related acts and non-compliance with preventive mechanisms? iii. Are the bodies responsible for combating corruption and preserving public sector integrity provided with adequate resources, including investigative powers, personnel and financial support? Do these bodies enjoy sufficient operational independence from the executive and the legislature?140 iv. Are measures in place to make the above bodies accessible to individuals and to encourage disclosure of possible corrupt acts, notably reporting hotlines and a policy on whistle-blowers141 which offers protection against retaliation in the workplace and other negative consequences? v. Does the State itself assess the effectiveness of its anti-corruption policies, and is adequate corrective action taken when necessary vi. Have any phenomena been observed in practice, which would undermine the effectiveness or integrity of anti-corruption efforts, e.g. manipulation of the legislative process, non-compliance and non-enforcement of court decisions and sanctions, immunities, interference with the enforcement efforts of anti-corruption and other responsible bodies – including political intimidation, instrumentalisation of certain public institutions, intimidation of journalists and members of civil society who report on corruption?

115. Corruption leads to arbitrariness and abuse of powers since decisions will not be made in line with the law, which will lead to decisions being arbitrary in nature. Moreover, corruption may offend equal application of the law: it therefore undermines the very foundations of the Rule of Law. Although all three branches of powers are concerned, corruption is a particular concern for the judiciary, prosecutorial and law enforcement bodies, which play an instrumental role in safeguarding the effectiveness of anti-corruption efforts. Preventing and sanctioning corruption-related acts are important elements of anti-corruption measures, which are addressed in a variety of international conventions and other instruments.142

116. Preventing conflicts of interest is an important element of the fight against corruption. A conflict of interest may arise where a public official has a private interest (which may involve a third person, e.g. a relative or spouse) liable to influence, or appearing to influence, the impartial and objective performance of his or her official duties.143 The issue of conflicts of interest is addressed in international conventions and soft law.144 Legislation on lobbying and the control of campaign finance may also contribute to preventing and sanctioning conflicts of interest.145

Collection of data and surveillance

 Collection and processing of personal data

How is personal data protection ensured? i. Are personal data undergoing automatic processing sufficiently protected with regard to their collection, storing and processing by the State as well as by private actors? What are the safeguards to secure that personal data are: – processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to the data subject (“lawfulness, fairness and transparency”); – collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a way incompatible with those purposes (“purpose limitation”)? – adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed (“data minimisation”)? – accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date (“accuracy”)? – kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the personal data are processed (“storage limitation”); – processed in a way that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss, destruction or damage (“integrity and confidentiality”)? 146 ii. Is the data subject provided at least with information on: – the existence of an automated personal data file, its main purposes; – the identity and the contact details of the controller and of the data protection officer; – the purposes of the processing for which the personal data are intended; – the period for which the personal data will be stored; – the existence of the right to request from the controller access to and rectification or erasure of the personal data concerning the data subject or to object to the processing of such personal data; – the right to lodge a complaint to the supervisory authority and the contact details of the supervisory authority; the recipients or categories of recipients of the personal data; – where the personal data are not collected from the data subject, from which source the personal data originate; – any further information necessary to guarantee fair processing in respect of the data subject.147 iii. Does a specific independent authority ensure compliance with the legal conditions under domestic law giving effect to the international principles and requirements with regard to the protection of individuals and of personal data? 148 iv. Are effective remedies provided for alleged violations of individual rights by collection of data? 149

117. The increasing use of information technology has made the collection of data possible to an extent which was unthinkable in the past. This has led to the development of national and international legal protection of individuals with regard to automatic processing of personal information relating to them. The most important requirements of such protection are enumerated above. These are also applicable mutatis mutandis to data processing for security purposes.

Targeted surveillance

What are the guarantees against abuse of targeted surveillance? i. Is there a mandate in the primary legislation and is it restricted by principles like the principle of proportionality? ii. Are there norms providing for procedural controls and oversight? iii.       Is an authorisation by a judge or an independent body required? iv. Are there sufficient legal remedies available for an alleged violation of individual rights?150 

118. Surveillance may seriously infringe the right to private life. The developments of technical means make it easier and easier to use. Ensuring that it does not provide the State an unlimited power to control the life of individuals is therefore crucial.

119. Targeted surveillance must be understood as covert collection of conversations by technical means, covert collection of telecommunications and covert collection of metadata).151

Strategic surveillance

What are the legal provisions related to strategic surveillance which guarantee against abuse? i. Are the main elements of strategic surveillance regulated in statute form, including the definition of the agencies which are authorised to collect such intelligence, the detailed purposes for which strategic surveillance can be collected and the limits, including the principle of proportionality, which apply to the collection, retention and dissemination of the data collected? 152 ii. Does the legislation extend data protection/privacy also to non-citizens/non-residents? iii.  Is strategic surveillance submitted to preventive judicial or independent authorisation? Are there independent review and oversight mechanisms in place? 153 iv. Are effective remedies provided for alleged violations of individual rights by strategic surveillance?154

120. Signals intelligence must be understood as means and methods for the interception of radio – including satellite and cell phone and cable-borne communications.155

121. “One of the most important developments of intelligence oversight in recent years has been that signals intelligence… can now involve monitoring “ordinary telecommunications” (it is “surveillance”) and it has a much greater potential for affecting human rights.”156

Video surveillance

What are the guarantees against abuse of video surveillance, especially of public places?157 i. Is video surveillance performed on grounds of security or safety requirements, or for the prevention and control of criminal offences, and submitted in law and in practice to the requirements laid down in Article 8 ECHR?158 ii. Are people notified of their being surveyed in places accessible to the public? iii. Do people have access to any video surveillance that may relate to them?

III.      SELECTED STANDARDS

III.a. General Rule of Law Standards Hard Law

Council of Europe, European Convention on Human Rights (1950) http://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list/-/conventions/treaty/005
European Union (EU), Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU (2009) http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.C_.2010.083.01.0389.01.ENG
United Nations (UN), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) (ICCPR) http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/pdfid/3ae6b3aa0.pdf
Council of Europe, Statute of the Council of Europe, Preamble (1949) http://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list/-/conventions/treaty/001
OAS, American Convention on Human Rights (‘Pact of San Jose’) (1969) http://www.oas.org/dil/treaties_B-32_American_Convention_on_Human_Rights.htm
African Union (AU), Constitutive Act http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/ConstitutiveAct_EN.pdf
African Union (AU) Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (2007), Article 3
http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/AFRICAN_CHARTER_ON_DEMOCRACY_ELECTIONS_AND_GOVERNANCE.pdf

2. Soft Law

 Council of Europe

European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), Report on the Rule of Law, CDL-AD (2011)003rev http://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/?pdf=CDL-AD(2011)003rev-e
Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, ‘The Council of Europe and the Rule of Law’, CM(2008)170 http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/minjust/mju29/CM%20170_en.pdf
The European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice’s Evaluation of European Judicial Systems project http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/cooperation/cepej/series/Etudes6Suivi_en.pdf

European Union

EU, Justice Scoreboard (ongoing annual reports) http://ec.europa.eu/justice/effective-justice/scoreboard/index_en.htm
Communication from the European Commission to the European Parliament and the Council, ‘A new EU Framework to strengthen the Rule of Law’, COM(2014) 158 final/2. http://ec.europa.eu/justice/effective-justice/files/com_2014_158_en.pdf
Council of the EU, Conclusions on fundamental rights and rule of law and on the Commission 2012 Report on the Application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2013) http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/jha/137404.pdf
EU Accession Criteria (‘Copenhagen Criteria’) http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_DOC-93-3_en.htm?locale=en

Other International Organisations

Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE, now OSCE), Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the CSCE (“the Copenhagen document”) (1989) http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/14304?download=true
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Decision No. 7/08, ‘Further strengthening the rule of law in the OSCE area’ (2008). http://www.osce.org/mc/35494?download=true
Organization of American States (OAS), Inter-American Democratic Charter (2001), http://www.oas.org/OASpage/eng/Documents/Democractic_Charter.htm
Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE, now OSCE), Document of the Moscow meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the CSCE (“the Moscow document) (1991) http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/14310?download=true

Rule of Law Indicators

World Justice Project Rule of Law Index http://worldjusticeproject.org/sites/default/files/files/wjp_rule_of_law_index_2014_report.pdf
Vera-Altus Rule of Law Indicators http://www.altus.org/pdf/dimrol_en.pdf
The United Nations Rule of Law Indicators http://www.un.org/en/events/peacekeepersday/2011/publications/un_rule_of_law_indicators.pdf
World Bank’s World Governance Indicators http://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi/index.aspx#home

III.b. Standards relating to the Benchmarks

Legality

 Hard Law

ECHR Articles 6ff, in particular 6.1, 7, 8.2, 9.2, 10.2 and 11.2
EU, Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU (2009), Article 49 (concerning the principles of legality and proportionality of criminal offences and penalties) http://www.europarl.europa.eu/charter/pdf/text_en.pdf
UN, ICCPR Articles 14ff, in particular 14.1, 15, 18.3, 19.3, 21; 22.3
UN, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), Article 4 (emergency derogations must be strict), 15 (nullum crimen, nullum poena) http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/pdfid/3ae6b3aa0.pdf
UN, International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (1990), Articles 16(4), 19 http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cmw/cmw.htm
Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (1998), Article 22 http://www.icc-cpi.int/nr/rdonlyres/ea9aeff7-5752-4f84-be94-0a655eb30e16/0/rome_statute_english.pdf
AU Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (2007), Article 10
http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/AFRICAN_CHARTER_ON_DEMOCRACY_ELECTIONS_AND_GOVERNANCE.pdf
OAS, American Convention on Human Rights (‘Pact of San Jose’) (1969), Article 27
http://www.oas.org/dil/treaties_B32_American_Convention_on_Human_Rights.htm

Soft Law

UN, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), Article 11(2) (concerning criminal offences and penalties) http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml
Organization of American States (OAS), American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (1948), Article XXV (protection from arbitrary arrest)
http://www.oas.org/dil/1948%20American%20Declaration%20of%20the%20Rights%20and% 20Duties%20of%20Man.pdf
Commonwealth (Latimer House) Principles on the Accountability of and the Relationship Between the Three Branches of Government (1998), Principles II, VIII http://www.cmja.org/downloads/latimerhouse/commprinthreearms.pdf
Charter of the Commonwealth (2013), Sections VI, VIII http://thecommonwealth.org/sites/default/files/page/documents/CharteroftheCommonwealth.pdf
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Human Rights Declaration (2012), para 20(2)Available at http://aichr.org/documents

Legal certainty

 Hard Law

ECHR Articles 6ff, in particular 6.1, 7, 8.2, 9.2, 10.2 and 11.2
OAS, American Convention on Human Rights (‘Pact of San Jose’) (1969), Article 9 http://www.oas.org/dil/treaties_B32_American_Convention_on_Human_Rights.htm
AU, African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Banjul Charter) (1981), Article 7(2) http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/pdfid/3ae6b3630.pdf
League of Arab States (LAS), Arab Charter on Human Rights (Revised) (2004), Article 16 http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b38540.html

Soft Law

UN,     Universal        Declaration     of         Human Rights (1948), Article 11 http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml
UN, Declaration of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels (2012), para 8 http://www.unrol.org/article.aspx?article_id=192
ASEAN, Human Rights Declaration (2012), para 20(3) Available at http://aichr.org/documents

Prevention of abuse of powers

 Hard Law

UN, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), Article 17 (interference with freedoms) http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/ccpr.aspx
UN, International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (1990), Articles 14 (interference with freedoms), 15 (deprivation of property) http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cmw/cmw.htm
UN, Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), Article 37(b) (arbitrary arrest or detention) http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CRC.aspx
AU, African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Banjul Charter) (1981), Article 14 http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/pdfid/3ae6b3630.pdf

Soft Law

Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, ‘The Council of Europe and the Rule of Law’, CM(2008)170, section 46 http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/minjust/mju29/CM%20170_en.pdf
UN,     Universal        Declaration     of         Human Rights (1948), Articles  9, 12, 17 http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml
Commonwealth (Latimer House) Principles on the Accountability of and the Relationship Between the Three Branches of Government (1998), Principle VII http://www.cmja.org/downloads/latimerhouse/commprinthreearms.pdf
ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (2012), paras 11-12, 21 (arbitrary deprivations of life, liberty, privacy) Available at http://aichr.org/documents

Equality before the law and non-discrimination

Hard Law

Council of Europe

ECHR (1950), Article 14

European Union

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU (2009), Articles 20-21 http://www.europarl.europa.eu/charter/pdf/text_en.pdf
EU Equality Directives, including Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation and Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin

Other international organisations

UN, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), Articles 2, 14(1), 26 (equality before courts and tribunals) http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/ccpr.aspx
UN, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CEDR) (1969), especially Article 5 http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CERD.aspx
UN, International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (1990), Articles 1, 7, 18 http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cmw/cmw.htm
UN, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), Article 3 http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CESCR.aspx
UN, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)(1979) http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CERD.aspx
UN, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) (2006) http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/conventionfull.shtml
UN, Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), Article 2 http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CRC.aspx
International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Geneva Conventions (1949), Common Article 3 https://www.icrc.org/ihl/WebART/375-590006
AU, African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Banjul Charter) (1981), Articles 3, 19 http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/pdfid/3ae6b3630.pdf
AU Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (2007), Article 8  http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/AFRICAN_CHARTER_ON_DEMOCRACY_ELECTIONS_AND_GOVERNANCE.pdf
OAS, American Convention on Human Rights (‘Pact of San Jose’) (1969), Articles 3, 24 http://www.oas.org/dil/treaties_B-32_American_Convention_on_Human_Rights.htm
LAS, Arab Charter on Human Rights (Revised) (2004), Articles 2, 9 http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b38540.html

Soft Law

Council of Europe, Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)7 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on good administration, Article 3 https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=1155877
European         Commission   for       Democracy     through           Law     (Venice Commission), Report on the scope and lifting of parliamentary immunities, CDL-AD(2014)011 http://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/?pdf=CDL-AD(2014)011-e
UN, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), Articles 1, 2, 6-7, 16-17, 22-23 http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml
UN Declaration of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels (2012), sections 12, 14 http://www.unrol.org/article.aspx?article_id=192
UN Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 32 (2007), Article 14: Right to equality before courts and tribunals and to a fair trial http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/gencomm/hrcom32.html
The Commonwealth, Harare Commonwealth Declaration (1991), para 4 http://thecommonwealth.org/sites/default/files/history-items/documents/Harare%20Commonwealth%20Declaration%201991.pdf
The Commonwealth, Singapore Declaration of Commonwealth Principles (1971), Principle 6 http://thecommonwealth.org/sites/default/files/history -items/documents/Singapore%20Declaration.pdf
ASEAN, Human Rights Declaration (2012), paras 2, 7-9 Available at http://aichr.org/documents
OAS, American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (1948), Articles II, XVII http://www.oas.org/dil/1948%20American%20Declaration%20of%20the%20Rights%20and%20Duties%20of%20Man.pdf
OAS,   Inter-American           Democratic     Charter            (2001), Article 9 http://www.oas.org/OASpage/eng/Documents/Democractic_Charter.htm
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Charter of Democracy (2011) http://saarc-sec.org/SAARC-Charter-of-Democracy/88/

Access to justice

Hard Law

ECHR (1950), Article 6
Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU (2009), Articles 41, 47, 48, 50 http://www.europarl.europa.eu/charter/pdf/text_en.pdf
Directive 2010/64/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?qid=1455724770445&uri=CELEX:32010L0064
Directive 2012/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2012 on the right to information in criminal proceedings http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?qid=1455724843769&uri=CELEX:32012L0013
Directive 2013/48/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2013 on the right of access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings and in European arrest warrant proceedings, and on the right to have a third party informed upon deprivation of liberty and to communicate with third persons and with consular authorities while deprived of liberty http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?qid=1455724901649&uri=CELEX:32013L0048
UN, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), Articles 9, 14 http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/ccpr.aspx
UN, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1969), Article 6
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CERD.aspx
UN, Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), Articles 12(2), 40 http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CRC.aspx
UN, International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (1990), Articles 16, 18 http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cmw/cmw.htm
Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (1998), Article 55 http://www.icc-cpi.int/nr/rdonlyres/ea9aeff7-5752-4f84-be94-0a655eb30e16/0/rome_statute_english.pdf
OAS, American Convention on Human Rights (‘Pact of San Jose’) (1969), Articles 8, 25 http://www.oas.org/dil/treaties_B-32_American_Convention_on_Human_Rights.htm
LAS, Arab Charter on Human Rights (Revised) (2004), Articles 7, 9 http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b38540.html
LAS, The Riyadh Arab Agreement for Judicial Cooperation (1983), Articles 3-4 http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b38d8.html

Soft Law

 Council of Europe

Council of Europe Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), Report on the Independence of the Judicial System Part I: The Independence of Judges, CDL-AD(2010)004 http://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/?pdf=CDL-AD(2010)004-e
Venice Commission, Report on European Standards as regards the Independence of the Judicial System: Part II – the Prosecution Service, CDL-AD(2010)040 http://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/?pdf=CDL-AD(2010)040-e
Venice Commission, Report on Judicial Appointments, CDL-AD(2007)028 http://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/default.aspx?pdffile=CDL-AD%282007%29028-e
Venice Commission, Compilation of Venice Commission opinions, reports and studies on Constitutional Justice, CDL-PI(2015)002 http://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/?pdf=CDL-PI%282015%29002-e
Venice Commission, Compilation of Venice Commission Opinions and Reports concerning Prosecutors, CDL-PI(2015)009 http://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/?pdf=CDL-PI%282015%29009-e
Venice Commission, Compilation of Venice Commission Opinions and Reports concerning Courts and Judges, CDL-PI(2015)001 http://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/?pdf=CDL-PI%282015%29001-e
Council of Europe, Recommendation CM/Rec(94)12 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the Independence, Efficiency and Role of Judges (1994)
https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=524871&Site=CM&BackColorInternet=C3C3C3&BackCo lorIntranet=EDB021&BackColorLogged=F5D383
Council of Europe, Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)12 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on judges: independence, efficiency and responsibilities https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=1707137
Council of Europe, Recommendation CM/Rec(2000)19 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the role of public prosecution in the criminal justice system https://wcd.coe.int/com.instranet.InstraServlet?command=com.instranet.CmdBlobGet&Instra netImage=2719990&SecMode=1&DocId=366374&Usage=2
Council of Europe, Recommendation CM/Rec(2012)11 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the role of public prosecutors outside the criminal justice system https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=1979395&Site=CM&BackColorInternet=C3C3C3&BackC olorIntranet=EDB021&BackColorLogged=F5D383
Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE), Opinion No. 1 on standards concerning the independence of the judiciary and the irremovability of judges (2001) https://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/greco/evaluations/round4/CCJE%20Opinion%201_EN. pdf
Council of Europe, Recommendation No. R(2000)21 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the freedom of exercise of the profession of lawyer https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=380771&Site=CM&BackColorInternet=C3C3C3&BackCo lorIntranet=EDB021&BackColorLogged=F5D383

European Union

European Network of Councils for the Judiciary, Dublin Declaration on Standards for the Recruitment and Appointment of Members of the Judiciary (2012) http://www.encj.eu/images/stories/pdf/GA/Dublin/encj_dublin_declaration_def_dclaration_de _dublin_recj_def.pdf
European Network of Councils for the Judiciary, Judicial Ethics: Principles, Values and Qualities (2010) http://encj.eu/images/stories/pdf/ethics/judicialethicsdeontologiefinal.pdf
European Network of Councils for the Judiciary, Resolution on Transparency and Access to Justice (2009) http://encj.eu/images/stories/pdf/opinions/resolutionbucharest29may_final.pdf
Council of Bars and Law Societies in Europe, Charter of Core Principles of the European Legal Profession (2006) and Code of Conduct for European Lawyers (1988, latest amendment 2006) http://www.ccbe.eu/fileadmin/user_upload/NTCdocument/EN_CCBE_CoCpdf1_1382973057 .pdf
European Association of Judges, Judges’ Charter in Europe (1997) http://www.richtervereinigung.at/international/eurojus1/eurojus15a.htm

United Nations

UN, Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), Articles 8, 10 http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
UN Human Rights Council Resolution 25/4, Integrity of the judicial system (2014) http://ap.ohchr.org/documents/dpage_e.aspx?si=A/HRC/RES/25/4
UN Human Rights Council, Resolution 23/6, Independence and impartiality of the judiciary, jurors and assessors and the independence of lawyers (2013) http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G13/148/94/PDF/G1314894.pdf?OpenElement
UN Declaration of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels (2012), para 13 http://www.unrol.org/article.aspx?article_id=192
UN Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 32 (2007), Article 14: Right to equality before courts and tribunals and to a fair trial http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/gencomm/hrcom32.html
UN Office on Drugs and Crime Judicial Group on Strengthening Judicial Integrity, The Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct (2002) http://www.unodc.org/pdf/crime/corruption/judicial_group/Bangalore_principles.pdf
UN OHCHR, Principles relating to the Status of National Institutions (The Paris Principles) (1993), section 2 (Composition and guarantees of independence and pluralism) http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/StatusOfNationalInstitutions.aspx
UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (welcomed by General Assembly resolution 45/166, 1990) http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/RoleOfLawyers.aspx
UN Guidelines on the Role of Prosecutors (welcomed by General Assembly resolution 45/166, 1990)  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/RoleOfProsecutors.aspx
UN Draft Universal Declaration on the Independence of Justice (“Singhvi Declaration”) (referenced by UN Commission on Human Rights, resolution 1989/32) http://icj.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/SR-Independence-of-Judges-and-Lawyers-Draft-universal-declaration-independence-justice-Singhvi-Declaration-instruments-1989-eng.pdf
UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary (endorsed by General Assembly resolutions 40/32 and 40/146, 1985) http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/IndependenceJudiciary.aspx
United Nations Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems https://www.unodc.org/documents/justice-and-prison-reform/UN_principles_and_guidlines_on_access_to_legal_aid.pdf
International Association of Prosecutors, Standards of professional responsibility and Statement of the essential duties and rights of prosecutors (1999) http://www.iap-association.org/getattachment/34e49dfe-d5db-4598-91da-16183bb12418/Standards_English.aspx
OSCE Ministerial Council Decision No. 12/05 on Upholding Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Criminal Justice Systems (Ljubljana) http://www.osce.org/mc/17347?download=true
OSCE, Brussels Declaration on Criminal Justice Systems (2006) http://www.osce.org/mc/23017?download=true

The Commonwealth of Nations

Charter of the Commonwealth (2013), section 7 http://thecommonwealth.org/sites/default/files/page/documents/CharteroftheCommonwalth.pdf
Commonwealth (Latimer House) Principles on the Accountability of and the Relationship Between the Three Branches of Government (2003), Principles III-VI http://www.cmja.org/downloads/latimerhouse/commprinthreearms.pdf
Harare Commonwealth Declaration (1991), para 4 http://thecommonwealth.org/sites/default/files/history-items/documents/Harare%20Commonwealth%20Declaration%201991.pdf
Limassol Conclusions on Combating Corruption within the Judiciary (2002) http://www.cmja.org/downloads/limassolconclusionwithannexe.pdf

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, ‘Kyiv Recommendations on Judicial Independence in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia: Judicial Administration, Selection and Accountability’ (2010) http://www.osce.org/odihr/KyivRec?download=true
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Office for Democratic Institutions and Human  Rights, Legal Digest of International Fair Trial Rights, http://www.osce.org/odihr/94214.

Other International Organisations

OAS, American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (1948), Articles XVII, XXVI http://www.oas.org/dil/1948%20American%20Declaration%20of%20the%20Rights%20and%20Duties%20of%20Man.pdf
OAS,   Inter-American           Democratic     Charter            (2001), Articles           2-4 http://www.oas.org/OASpage/eng/Documents/Democractic_Charter.htm
African Union (AU), Constitutive Act (2000), Article 4(m) http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/ConstitutiveAct_EN.pdf
AU, African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (Banjul Charter) (1981), Articles 7, 26 http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/pdfid/3ae6b3630.pdf
ASEAN, Human Rights Declaration (2012), para 5 Available at http://aichr.org/documents
SAARC, Charter of Democracy (2011) http://saarc-sec.org/SAARC-Charter-of-Democracy/88/

Other

American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative – Arab Council for Judicial and Legal Studies, Justice Sector Benchmarks – A User’s Guide for Civil Society Organizations http://www.albersconsulting.eu/justicebenchmarks.html
The Appointment, Tenure and Removal of Judges under Commonwealth Principles: A Compendium and Analysis of Best Practice (J. van Zyl Smit, Report of Research Undertaken by Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law) (2015) http://www.biicl.org/documents/689_bingham_centre_compendium.pdf
Bingham Center for the Rule of Law, Cape Town Principles on the Role of Independent Commissions in the Selection and Appointment of Judges (2016) http://www.biicl.org/documents/868_cape_town_principles_-_february_2016.pdf

Examples of particular challenges to the Rule of Law

 Hard Law

 Corruption

Council of Europe, Criminal Convention against Corruption, http://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list/-/conventions/treaty/173
Council of Europe, Civil Convention on Corruption, http://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list/-/conventions/treaty/174
Council of Europe, Additional Protocol to the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption http://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list/-/conventions/treaty/191
UN, Convention Against Corruption (2003) http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/treaties/CAC/
OAS, Inter-American Convention against Corruption (1996) http://www.oas.org/juridico/english/treaties/b-58.html

Collection of data and surveillance

Council of Europe, Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data http://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list/-/conventions/treaty/108European Union, Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:31995L0046&from=EN

Soft Law

 Corruption

Council of Europe, Recommendation CM/Rec(2000)10 of the Committee of Ministers to members States on codes of conduct for public officials, https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=353945&Site=CM&BackColorInternet=C3C3C3&BackCo lorIntranet=EDB021&BackColorLogged=F5D383
CM/Res (97) 24 on the twenty guiding principles for the fight against corruption https://wcd.coe.int/ViewDoc.jsp?id=593789&Site=CM&BackColorInternet=C3C3C3&BackColorIntranet=EDB021&BackColorLogged=F5D383
Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO), Immunities of public officials as possible obstacles in the fight against corruption, in Lessons learned from the three Evaluation Rounds (2000-2010) – Thematic Articles https://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/greco/general/Compendium_Thematic_Articles_EN.pdf
European Union, regular EU-Anti Corruption report, e.g. COM(2014) 38 final as of 3 February 2015 http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/e-library/documents/policies/organized-crime-and-human-trafficking/corruption/docs/acr_2014_en.pdf

Collection of data and surveillance

European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), Opinion on Video Surveillance in Public Places by Public Authorities and the Protection of Human Rights, CDL-AD(2007)014 http://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/?pdf=CDL-AD%282007%29014-e
European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission Report on the Democratic Oversight of Signals Intelligence Agencies, CDL-AD(2015)011 http://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/?pdf=CDL-AD%282015%29011-e

ENDNOTES

1   See, for example, FRA (Fundamental Rights Agency) (2016), Fundamental rights: challenges and achievements in 2015 – FRA Annual report 2013, Luxembourg, Publications Office of the European Union (Publications Office),Chapter 7 (upcoming).
2  Cf. CDL-AD(2011)003rev, § 30ff.
3  CDL-AD(2011)003rev.
4  See Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Motion for a resolution presented by Mr Holovaty and others, The principle of the rule of law, Doc. 10180, § 10. In this context, see also the Copenhagen document of the CSCE, para. 2: “[participating States] consider that the rule of law does not mean merely a formal legality which assures regularity and consistency in the achievement and enforcement of democratic order, but justice based on the recognition and full acceptance of the supreme value of the human personality and guaranteed by institutions providing a framework for its fullest expression.”
5   Tom Bingham, The Rule of Law (2010).
6   Council conclusions on fundamental rights and rule of law and on the Commission 2012 Report on the Application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, Justice and Home Affairs Council Meeting, Luxembourg, 6-7 June 2013,   part c, available at: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/jha/137404.pdf.
7   Communication from the European Commission to the European Parliament and the Council, ‘A new EU Framework to strengthen the Rule of Law’, COM(2014) 158 final/2, http://ec.europa.eu/justice/effective-justice/files/com_2014_158_en.pdf.
8  This document is a joint publication of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
9  See FRA (2014), An EU internal strategic framework for fundamental rights: joining fundamental rights: joining forces to achieve better results. Luxembourg, Publications Office of the European Union (Publications Office).
10  On the issue, see in particular the Report on the Rule of Law adopted by the Venice Commission, CDL-AD(2011)003rev, § 59-61. The report also underlines (§ 41) that “[a] consensus can now be found for the necessary elements of the Rule of Law as well as those of the Rechtsstaat which are not only formal but also substantial or material” (emphasis added).
11  Rule of Law. A Guide for Politicians, HIIL, Lund/The Hague, 2012, p. 6.
12  Venice Commission Report on the Rule of Law, CDL-AD(2011)003rev, § 37.
13 See for example ECtHR, Centro Europe 7 and di Stefano v. Italy, 38433/09, 7 June 2012, § 134, 156; B?rbulescu v. Romania, 61496/08, 12 January 2016, § 52ff.
14  See ECtHR, Sylvester v. Austria, 36812/97 and 40104/98, 24 April 2003, § 63; P.P. v. Poland, 8677/03, 8 January 2008, § 88.
15 As Rule of Law guarantees apply not only to human rights law but to all laws.
16 The principle of legality is explicitly recognised as an aspect of the Rule of Law by the European Court of Justice, see ECJ, C-496/99 P, Commission v. CAS Succhi di Frutta, 29 April 2004, § 63.
17  This results from the principle of separation of powers, which also limits the discretion of the executive: cf. CM(2008)170, The Council of Europe and the Rule of Law, § 46.
18  The Venice Commission is in principle favourable to full review of constitutionality, but a proper implementation of the Constitution is sufficient: cf. CDL-AD(2008)010, Opinion on the Constitution of Finland, § 115ff. See especially the section on Constitutional Justice (II.E.3).
19 On the hierarchy of norms, see CDL-JU(2013)020, Memorandum – Conference on the European standards of Rule of Law and the scope of discretion of powers in the member States of the Council of Europe (Yerevan, Armenia, 3-5 July 2013).
20 The reference to « law » for acts and decisions affecting human rights is to be found in a number of provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights, including Article 6.1, 7 and Articles 8.2, 9.2, 10.2 and 11.2 concerning restrictions to fundamental freedoms. See, among many other authorities, ECtHR Amann v. Switzerland, 27798/95,
16 February 2000, § 47ff; Slivenko v. Latvia, 48321/99, 9 October 2003, § 100; X. v. Latvia, 27853/09, 26 November 2013, § 58; Kuri? and Others v. Slovenia, 26828/06, 12 March 2014, § 341.
21 Discretionary power is, of course, permissible, but must be controlled. See below II.C.1.
22 Cf. below II.A.8.
23 For a recent reference to positive obligations of the State to ensure the fundamental rights of individuals vis-à-vis private actors, see ECtHR B?rbulescu v. Romania, 61496/08, 12 January 2016, § 52ff (concerning Article 8 ECHR).
24 Law “comprises statute law as well as case-law”, ECtHR Achour v. France, 67335/01, 29 March 2006, § 42; cf Kononov v. Latvia [GC], 36376/04, 17 May 2010, § 185.
25 ECtHR The Sunday Times v. the United Kingdom (No. 1), 6538/74, 26 April 1979, § 46ff. On the conditions of accessibility and foreseeability, see, e.g., ECtHR Kuri? and Others v. Slovenia, 26828/06, 26 June 2012, § 341ff; Amann v. Switzerland, 27798/95, 16 February 2000, § 50; Slivenko v. Latvia, 48321/99, 9 October 2003, § 100. The Court of the European Union considers that the principles of legal certainty and legitimate expectations imply that “the effect of Community legislation must be clear and expectable to those who are subject to it”: ECJ, 212 to 217/80, Amministrazione delle finanze dello Stato v. SRL Meridionale Industria Salumi and Others, 12 November 1981, § 10; or “that legislation be clear and precise and that its application be foreseeable for all interested parties”: CJEU, C-585/13, Europäisch-Iranische Handelsbank AG v. Council of the European Union, 5 March 2015, § 93; cf. ECJ, C-325/91, France v Commission, 16 June 1993, § 26. For more details, see II.B (legal certainty).
26 Cf. Article 26 (pacta sunt servanda) and Article 27 (internal law and observance of treaties) of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties; CDL-STD(1993)006, The relationship between international and domestic law, § 3.6 (treaties), 4.9 (international custom), 5.5 (decisions of international organisations), 6.4 (international judgments and rulings); CDL-AD(2014)036, Report on the Implementation of Human Rights Treaties in Domestic Law and the Role of Courts, § 50.
27  Article 27 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties; see also Article 46 (Provisions of internal law regarding the competence to conclude treaties).
28 See Article 80 of the German Constitution; Article 76 of the Italian Constitution; Article 92 of the Constitution of Poland; Article 290.1 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which states that “[t]he essential elements of an area shall be reserved for the legislative act and accordingly shall not be the subject of a delegation of power”.
29        ECtHR Sunday Times, above note 25.
30        On the need to clarify and streamline legislative procedures, see e.g. CDL-AD(2012)026, § 79; cf. CDL-AD(2002)012, Opinion on the draft revision of the Romanian Constitution, § 38ff.
31        According to the European Court of Human Rights, exacting and pertinent review of (draft) legislation, not only a posteriori by the judiciary, but also a priori by the legislature, makes restrictions to fundamental rights guaranteed by the Convention more easily justifiable: ECtHR Animal Defenders International v. the United Kingdom, 48876/08, 22 April 2013, §106ff.
32        UN Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 25 (1996), Article 25 (Participation in Public Affairs and the Right to Vote) – The Right to Participate in Public Affairs, Voting Rights and the Right of Equal Access to Public Service, – provides that “[c]itizens also take part in the conduct of public affairs by exerting influence through       public debate” (§         8).        Available        at            http://www.refworld.org/cgi-
bin/texis/vtx/rwmain?page=search&docid=453883fc22&skip=0&query=general comment         25.       The      CSCE Copenhagen Document provides that legislation is “adopted at the end of a public procedure” and the 1991 Moscow Document (http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/14310) states that “[L]egislation will be formulated and adopted as the result of an open process” (§ 18.1).
33        ECtHR Hatton v. the United Kingdom, 36022/97, 8 July 2003, § 128: “A governmental decision-making process concerning complex issues of environmental and economic policy such as in the present case must necessarily involve appropriate investigations and studies in order to allow them to strike a fair balance between the various conflicting interests at stake.” See also Evans v. the United Kingdom, 6339/05, 10 April 2007, § 64. About the absence of real parliamentary debate since the adoption of a statute, which took place in 1870, see Hirst (No. 2) v. the United Kingdom, 74025/01, 6 October 2005, § 79. In Finland, the instructions for law-drafting include such a requirement.
34        Cf. Article 15 ECHR (“derogation in time of emergency”); Article 4 ICCPR; Article 27 ACHR. For an individual application of Article 15 ECHR, see ECtHR A. and Others v. the United Kingdom, 3455/05, 19 February 2009, § 178, 182: a derogation to Article 5 § 1 ECHR was considered as disproportionate. On emergency powers, see also CDL-STD(1995)012, Emergency Powers; CDL-AD(2006)015, Opinion on the Protection of Human Rights in Emergency Situations.
35        CDL-AD(2006)015, § 33.
36        Article 15 ECHR: Article 4 ICCPR; Article 27 ACHR.
37        CDL-AD(2006)015, § 9. On derogations under Article 15 ECHR, see more generally CDL-AD(2006)015, § 9ff, and the quoted case-law.
38        On the need for effective and dissuasive sanctions, see e.g. CDL-AD(2014)019, § 89; CDL-AD(2013)021, § 70.
39        The need for ensuring proper implementation of the legislation is often underlined by the Venice Commission: see e.g. CDL-AD(2014)003, § 11: “the key challenge for the conduct of genuinely democratic elections remains the exercise of political will by all stakeholders, to uphold the letter and the spirit of the law, and to implement it fully and effectively”; CDL-AD(2014)001, § 85.
40        Cf. Article 124 of the Constitution of Finland: “A public administrative task may be delegated to others than public authorities only by an Act or by virtue of an Act, if this is necessary for the appropriate performance of the task and if basic rights and liberties, legal remedies and other requirements of good governance are not endangered.”
41        ECtHR Fazlyiski v. Bulgaria, 40908/05, 16 April 2013, § 64-70, in particular § 65; Ryakib Biryukov v. Russia, 14810/02, 17 January 2008, in particular § 30ff; cf. Kononov v. Latvia, 36376/04, 17 May 2010, § 185.
42        ECtHR The Sunday Times v. the United Kingdom (No. 1), 6538/74, 26 April 1979, § 46ff; Rekvényi v. Hungary, 25390/94, 20 May 1999, § 34ff.
43        ECtHR The Sunday Times v. the United Kingdom (No. 1), 6538/74, 26 April 1979, § 49.
44        The Venice Commission has addressed the issue of stability of legislation in the electoral field: Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters, CDL-AD(2002)023rev, II.2; Interpretative Declaration on the Stability of the Electoral Law, CDL-AD(2005)043.
45        For example, individuals who have been encouraged to adopt a behaviour by Community measures may legitimately expect not to be subject, upon the expiry of this undertaking, to restrictions which specifically affect them precisely because they availed themselves of the possibilities offered by the Community provisions: ECJ, 120/86, Mulder v. Minister van Landbouw en Visserij, 28 April 1988, § 21ff. In the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, the doctrine of legitimate expectations essentially applies to the protection of property as guaranteed by Article 1 of the First Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights: see e.g. ECtHR Anhaeuser-Busch Inc. v. Portugal [GC], 73049/01, 11 January 2007, § 65; Gratzinger and Gratzingerova v. the Czech Republic [GC] (dec.), 39794/98, 10 July 2002, § 68ff; National & Provincial Building Society, Leeds Permanent Building Society and Yorkshire Building Society v. the United Kingdom, 21319/93, 21449/93, 21675/93, 21319/93, 21449/93 and 21675/93, 23 October 1997, § 62ff.
46        See Article 7.1 ECHR, Article 15 ICCPR, Article 9 ACHR, Article 7.2 of the African (Banjul) Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights [ACHPR] for criminal law; Article 28 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties for international treaties.
47        The principle of non-retroactivity does not apply when the new legislation places individuals in a more favourable position. The European Court of Human considers that Article 7 ECHR includes the principle of retrospectiveness of the more lenient criminal law: see Scoppola v. Italy (No. 2), 10249/03, 17 September 2009.
48        Article 4 Protocol 7 ECHR, Article 14.7 ICCPR, Article 8.4 ACHR (in the penal field); on the respect of the principle of res judicata, see e.g. ECtHR Brum?rescu v. Romania, 28342/95, 28 October 1999, § 62; Kulkov and Others v. Russia, 25114/03, 11512/03, 9794/05, 37403/05, 13110/06, 19469/06, 42608/06, 44928/06, 44972/06 and 45022/06, 8 January 2009, § 27; Duca v. Moldova, 75/07, 3 March 2009, § 32. The Court considers respect of res judicata as an aspect of legal certainty. Cf. Marckx v. Belgium, 6833/74, 13 June 1979, § 58.
49        Cf. The Council of Europe and the Rule of Law – An overview, CM(2008)170, 21 November 2008, § 48.
50        Protection against arbitrariness was mentioned by the European Court of Human Rights in a number of cases. In addition to those quoted in the next note, see e.g. Husayn (Abu Zubaydah) v. Poland, 7511/13, 24 July 2014, § 521ff; Hassan v. the United Kingdom, 29750/09, 16 September 2014, § 106; Georgia v. Russia (I), 13255/07, 3 July 2014, § 182ff (Article 5 ECHR); Ivinovi? v. Croatia, 13006/13, 18 September 2014, § 40 (Article 8 ECHR). For the Court of Justice of the European Union, see e.g. ECJ, 46/87 and 227/88, Hoechst v. Commission, 21 September 1989, § 19; T-402/13, Orange v. European Commission, 25 November 2014, § 89. On the limits of discretionary powers, see Appendix to Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers on good administration, CM/Rec(2007)7, Article 2.4 (“Principle of lawfulness”): “[Public authorities] shall exercise their powers only if the established facts and the applicable law entitle them to do so and solely for the purpose for which they have been conferred”.
51        CM(2008)170, The Council of Europe and the Rule of Law, § 46; ECtHR Malone, 8691/79, 2 August 1984, § 68; Segerstedt-Wiberg and Others v. Sweden, 62332/00, 6 June 2006, § 76 (Article 8). The complexity of modern society means that discretionary power must be granted to public officials. The principle by which public authorities must strive to be objective (“sachlich”) in a number of States such as Sweden and Finland goes further than simply forbidding discriminatory treatment and is seen as an important factor buttressing confidence in public administration and social capital.
52        See e.g. Article 41.1.c of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Cf. also item II.E.2.c.vi and note 126.
53        See for exemple, Article 14 ECHR; Protocol 12 ECHR; Articles 12, 26 ICCPR, Article 24 ACHR; Article ACHPR.
54        Cf. e.g. CDL-AD(2014)010, § 41-42; CDL-AD(2013)032, Opinion on the Final Draft Constitution of the Republic of Tunisia, § 44ff: equality should not be limited to citizens and include a general non-discrimination clause.
55        CDL-AD(2014)011, Report on the Scope and Lifting of Parliamentary Immunities (§ 200); ECtHR Cordova v. Italy, No. 1 and No. 2, 40877/98 and 45649/99, 30 January 2003, § 58-67.
56        ECRI (European Commission against Racism and Intolerance) Recommendation No. 7, § 5.
57        For example, Article 1.2 Protocol 12 ECHR makes clear that “any public authority” – and not only the legislator – has to respect the principle of equality. Article 26 ICCPR States that “All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without discrimination to the equal protection of the law”. “The principle of equal treatment is a general principle of European Union law, enshrined in Articles 20 and 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union”: CJEU, C-550/07 P, Akzo Nobel Chemicals and Akcros Chemicals v Commission, 14 September 2010, § 54.
58        A distinction is admissible if the situations are not comparable and/or if it is based on an objective and reasonable justification: See ECtHR Hämäläinen v. Finland, 37359/09, 26 July 2014, § 108: “The Court has established in its case-law that in order for an issue to arise under Article 14 there must be a difference in treatment of persons in relevantly similar situations. Such a difference of treatment is discriminatory if it has no objective and reasonable justification; in other words, if it does not pursue a legitimate aim or if there is not a reasonable relationship of proportionality between the means employed and the aim sought to be realised. The Contracting States enjoy a margin of appreciation in assessing whether and to what extent differences in otherwise similar situations justify a difference in treatment (see Burden v. the United Kingdom GC, no. 13378/05, § 60, ECHR 2008)”.
59        Cf. Article 13 ECHR; Article 2.3 ICCPR ; Article 25 ACHR ; Article 7.1.a ACHPR.
60        Cf. Article 1.4 and 2.2 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CEDR); Article 4 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); Article 5.4 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
61        On the issue of access to justice and the Rule of Law, see SG/Inf(2016)3, Challenges for judicial independence and impartiality in the member States of the Council of Europe, Report prepared jointly by the Bureau of the CCJE and the Bureau of the CCPE for the attention of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe as a follow-up to his 2015 report entitled “State of Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Europe – a shared responsibility for democratic security in Europe.
62        CDL-AD(2010)004, § 22: “The basic principles ensuring the independence of the judiciary should be set out in the Constitution or equivalent texts”.
63        Cf. CM/Rec(2010)12 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on judges: independence, efficiency and responsibilities, § 49ff; CDL-AD(2010)004, § 33ff; for constitutional justice, see “The Composition of Constitutional Courts”, Science and Technique of Democracy No. 20, CDL-STD(1997)020, p. 18-19.
64        “Judges… should enjoy functional – but only functional – immunity (immunity from prosecution for acts performed in the exercise of their functions, with the exception of intentional crimes, e.g. taking bribes)”: CDL-AD(2010)004, §61.
65        OSCE Kyiv Recommendations on Judicial Independence, § 9.
66        Cf. CM/Rec(2010)12, § 44.
67        The Venice Commission considers it appropriate to establish a Judicial Council having decisive influence on decisions on the appointment and career of judges: CDL-AD(2010)004, § 32.
68        “A substantial element or a majority of the members of the Judicial Council should be elected by the Judiciary itself”: CDL-AD(2007)028, § 29.
69        CDL-AD(2010)038, Amicus Curiae Brief for the Constitutional Court of the “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” on amending several laws relating to the system of salaries and remunerations of elected and appointed officials.
70        Recommendation CM/Rec(2012)11 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the role of public prosecutors outside the criminal justice system; CDL-AD(2010)040, § 81-83; CDL-AD(2013)025, Joint Opinion on the draft law on the public prosecutor’s office of Ukraine, § 16-28.
71        See in particular ECtHR Campbell and Fell v. the United Kingdom, 28 June 2014, 7819/77 and 7878/77, § 78.
72        Cf. CDL-AD(2010)004, § 43.
73        CDL-AD(2010)004, § 32.
74        Cf. Recommendation (94)12 of the Committee of Ministers on the Independence, Efficiency and Role of Judges (Principle I.2.a), which reflects a preference for a judicial council but accepts other systems.
75        CDL-AD(2007)028, Report on Judicial Appointments, § 44ff. The trend in Commonwealth countries is away from executive appointments and toward appointment commissions, sometimes known as judicial services commissions. See J. van Zyl Smit (2015), The Appointment, Tenure and Removal of Judges under Commonwealth Principles: A Compendium and Analysis of Best Practice (Report of Research Undertaken by Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law), available at http://www.biicl.org/documents/689_bingham_centre_compendium.pdf.
76        CDL-AD(2002)021, Supplementary Opinion on the Revision of the Constitution of Romania, § 21, 22.
77        See CDL-PI(2015)001, Compilation of Venice Commission Opinions and Reports concerning Courts and Judges, ch. 4.2, and the references.
78        CDL-INF(1999)005, Opinion on the reform of the judiciary in Bulgaria, § 28; see also, e.g., CDL-AD(2007)draft, Report on Judicial Appointments by the Venice Commission, § 33; CDL-AD(2010)026, Joint opinion on the draft law on the judicial system and the status of judges of Ukraine, § 97, concerning the presence of ministers in the judicial council.
79        CM/Rec(2010)12, § 33ff; CDL-AD(2010)004, § 52ff.
80        CDL-AD(2010)040, § 71ff.
81        Cf. CDL-AD(2012)014, Opinion on Legal Certainty and the Independence of the Judiciary in Bosnia and Herzegovina, § 81.
82        CDL-AD(2010)004, § 78; see e.g. European Commission on Human Rights, Zand v. Austria, 7360/76, 16 May 1977, D.R. 8, p. 167; ECtHR Fruni v. Slovakia, 8014/07, 21 June 2011, § 134ff.
83        On the allocation of cases, see CM/Rec(2010)12, § 24; CDL-AD(2010)004, § 73ff. The OSCE Kyiv Recommendations cite as a good practice either random allocation of cases or allocation based on predetermined, clear and objective criteria (§ 12).
84        CM/Rec(2010)12, § 22ff; CDL-AD(2010)004, § 68ff; CM/Rec(2000)19 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the role of public prosecution in the criminal justice system, § 19; CDL-AD(2010)004, Report on the Independence of the Judicial System Part I: The Independence of Judges), § 72.
85        CDL-AD(2010)004, § 79.
86        Article 6.1 ECHR; Article 14.1 ICCPR; Article 8.1 ACHR; Article 7.1.d ACHPR. See also the various aspects of impartiality in the Bangalore principles of judicial conduct, Value 2, including absence of favour, bias or prejudice.
87        See e.g. ECtHR Micallef v. Malta GC], 17056/06, 15 October 2009, § 99-100.
88        On corruption, see in general II.F.1.
89        See e.g. ECtHR De Cubber v. Belgium, 9186/80, 26 October 1984, § 26: Micallef v. Malta, 17056/06, 15 October 2009, § 98; Oleksandr Volkov v. Ukraine, 21722/11, 9 January 2013, § 106.
90        CDL-AD(2011)017, Opinion on the introduction of changes to the constitutional law “on the status of judges” of Kyrgyzstan, § 15.
91        See in particular CM/Rec(2000)19, § 11ff; CDL-AD(2010)040, § 23ff.
92        Cf. CDL-AD(2010)040, § 22.
93        Cf. CDL-AD(2010)040, § 53ff.
94        CDL-AD(2010)040, § 34ff, 47ff.
95        CDL-AD(2010)040, Report on European Standards as regards the Independence of the Judicial System: Part II -the Prosecution Service, § 39.
96        CDL-AD(2010)040, § 52.
97        CDL-AD(2010)040, § 69.
98        See II.A.1.
99        CDL-AD(2010)040, § 7, 53ff.
100      See II.E.1.a.xiv for judges.
101      See Recommendation No. R(2000)21 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the freedom of exercise of the profession of lawyer.
102      International Bar Association – International Principles of Conduct for the Legal Profession, 1.1.
103      Ibid., 2.1.
104      Ibid., 3.1.
105      Ibid., 5.1.
106      Article 6 ECHR, Article 14 ICCPR, Article 8 ACHR, Article 7 ACHPR. The right to a fair trial was recognised by the European Court of Justice, as “inspired by Article 6 of the ECHR”: C-174/98 P and C-189/98 P, Netherlands and Van der Wal v Commission, 11 January 2000, § 17. See now Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
107      “The degree of access afforded by the national legislation must also be sufficient to secure the individual’s “right to a court”, having regard to the principle of the Rule of Law in a democratic society. For the right of access to be effective, an individual must have a clear, practical opportunity to challenge an act that is an interference with his rights”, ECtHR Bellet v. France, 23805/94, 4 December 1995, § 36; cf. ECtHR M.D. and Others v. Malta, 64791/10, 17 July 2012, § 53.
108      Article 6.3.b-c ECHR, Article 14.3 ICCPR; Article 8.2 ACHR; the right to defence is protected by Article 6.1 ECHR in civil proceedings, see e.g. ECtHR Oferta Plus SRL v. Moldova, 14385/04, 19 December 2006, § 145. It is recognised in general by Article 7.1.c ACHPR.
109      Article 6.3.c ECHR, Article 14.3.d ICCPR for criminal proceedings; the right to legal aid is provided up to a certain extent by Article 6.1 ECHR for civil proceedings: see e.g. ECtHR A. v. the United Kingdom, 35373/97, 17 December 2002, § 90ff; for constitutional courts in particular, see CDL-AD(2010)039rev, Study on individual access to constitutional justice, § 113.
110      For constitutional justice, see CDL-AD(2010)039rev, § 125.
111      For constitutional justice, see CDL-AD(2010)039rev, § 112; for time limits for taking the decision, see § 149.
112      On excessive court fees, see e.g. ECtHR Kreuz v. Poland (no. 1)¸ 28249/95, 19 June 2001, § 60-67; Weissman and Others v. Romania, 63945/00, 24 May 2006, § 32ff; Scordino v. Italy, 36813/97, 29 March 2006, § 201; Sakhnovskiy v. Russia, 21272/03, 2 November 2010, § 69; on excessive security for costs, see e.g. ECtHR Aït-Mouhoub v. France, 22924/93, 28 October 1998, § 57-58; Garcia Manibardo v. Spain, 38695/97, 15 February 2000, § 38-45; for constitutional justice, see CDL-AD(2010)039rev, § 117.
113      On the need for an effective right of access to court, see e.g. Golder v. the United Kingdom, 4451/70, 21 January 1975, § 26ff; Yagtzilar and Others v. Greece, 41727/98, 6 December 2001, § 20ff.
114      Article 6.2 ECHR; Article 15 ICCPR; Article 8.2 ACHR; Article 7.1.b ACHPR.
115      ECtHR Allenet de Ribemont v. France, 15175/89, 10 February 1995, § 32ff. On the involvement of authorities not belonging to the judiciary in issues linked to a criminal file, see CDL-AD(2014)013, Amicus Curiae Brief in the Case of Rywin v. Poland (Application Nos 6091/06, 4047/07, 4070/07) pending before the European Court of Human Rights (on Parliamentary Committees of Inquiry). The European Court of Human Rights decided on the Rywin case on 18 February 2016: see in particular § 200ff. On the issue of the systematic follow-up to prosecutors’ requests (prosecutorial bias), see item II.E.1.a.xiii.
116      ECtHR Saunders v. the United Kingdom, 19187/91, 17 December 1996, § 68-69; O’Halloran and Francis v.the United Kingdom, 5809/02 and 25624/02, 29 June 2007, § 46ff, and the quoted case-law. On the incrimination of members of one’s family, see e.g. International Criminal Court, Rules of Procedure and Evidence, Rule 75.1.
117      Cf. Article 5.3 ECHR.
118      “The burden of proof is on the prosecution”: ECtHR Barberá, Messegué and Jabardo v. Spain, 10590/83, 6 December 1988, § 77; Telfner v. Austria, 33501/96, 20 March 2001, § 15; cf. Grande Stevens and Others v. Italy, 18640/10, 18647/10, 18663/10, 18668/10 and 18698/10, 4 March 2014, § 159.
119      Human Rights Committee, General Comment No. 32, Article 14: Right to equality before courts and tribunals and to a fair trial, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/GC/32 (2007), IV.
120      See e.g. Rowe and Davis v. the United Kingdom, 28901/95, 16 February 2000, § 60.
121      See e.g. Jalloh v. Germany, 54810/00, 17 July 2006, § 94ff, 104; Göçmen v. Turkey, 72000/01, 17 October 2006, § 75; O’Halloran and Francis v. the United Kingdom, 5809/02 and 25624/02, 29 June 2007, § 60.
122      Article 6.1 ECHR; Article 8.1 ACHR; Article 7.1.d ACHPR (« within reasonable time »).
123      CDL-AD(2010)039rev, § 94. See e.g. ECtHR Panju v. Belgium, 18393/09, 28 October 2014, § 53, 62 (the absence of an effective remedy in case of excessive length of proceedings goes against Article 13 combined with Article 6.1 ECHR).
124      This right is inferred in criminal matters from Article 6.3.b ECHR (the right to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of one’s defence): see e.g. Foucher v. France, 22209/93, 18 March 1993, § 36.
125      Cf. ECtHR Micallef v. Malta, 17056/06, 15 October 2009, § 78ff; Neziraj v. Germany, 30804/07, 8 November 2012, § 45ff.
126      “Article 6 § 1 (Article 6-1) obliges the courts to give reasons for their judgments”: ECtHR Hiro Balani v. Spain, 18064/91, 9 September 1994, § 27; Jokela v. Finland, 28856/95, 21 May 2002, § 72; see also Taxquet v. Belgium, 926/05, 16 November 2010, § 83ff. Under the title “Right to good administration”, Article 41.2.c of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union provides for “the obligation of the administration to give reasons for its decisions”.
127      On appeals procedures, see ODIHR Legal Digest of International Fair Trial Rights, p. 227.
128      See e.g. Hirschhorn v. Romania, 29294/02, 26 July 2007, § 49; Hornsby v. Greece, 18357/91, 19 March 1997, § 40; Burdov v. Russia, 59498/00, 7 May 2002, § 34ff ; Gerasimov and Others v. Russia, 29920/05, 3553/06, 18876/10, 61186/10, 21176/11, 36112/11, 36426/11, 40841/11, 45381/11, 55929/11, 60822/11, 1 July 2014, § 167ff.
129      CDL-AD(2010)039rev, Study on individual access to constitutional justice, § 96.
130      CDL-AD(2010)039rev, § 62, 93, 165.
131      CDL-AD(2010)039rev, § 202; CDL-AD(2002)005 Opinion on the Draft Law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan, § 9, 10.
132      CDL-AD(2004)043, Opinion on the Proposal to Amend the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova (introduction of the individual complaint to the constitutional court), § 18, 19; CDL-AD(2008)030, Opinion on the Draft Law on the Constitutional Court of Montenegro, § 19; CDL AD(2011)040, Opinion on the law on the establishment and rules of procedure of the Constitutional Court of Turkey, § 24.
133      CDL-AD(2011)010, Opinion on the draft amendments to the Constitution of Montenegro, as well as on the draft amendments to the law on courts, the law on the State prosecutor’s office and the law on the judicial council of Montenegro, § 27; CDL-AD(2012)024, Opinion on two Sets of draft Amendments to the Constitutional Provisions relating to the Judiciary of Montenegro, § 33; CDL-AD(2009)014, Opinion on the Law on the High Constitutional Court of the Palestinian National Authority, § 13; The Composition of Constitutional Courts, Science and Technique of Democracy No. 20, CDL-STD(1997)020, pp. 7, 21.
134      CDL-AD(2008)010, Opinion on the Constitution of Finland, § 115ff.
135      There is only one (limited) exception in the Council of Europe member States with a constitutional jurisdiction:CDL-AD(2010)039rev, § 1, 52-53.
136      CDL-AD(2010)039rev, § 1ff, 54-55, 56 ff.
137      Cf. CDL-AD(2008)030, Opinion on the Draft Law on the Constitutional Court of Montenegro, § 71.
138      CDL-STD(1997)020, p. 21.
139      On the issue of corruption, see Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO), Immunities of public officials as possible obstacles in the fight against corruption, in Lessons learned from the three Evaluation Rounds (2000-2010) – Thematic Articles.
140      On the issue of corruption in the judiciary, see II.E.1.c.ii.
141      See Recommendation CM/Rec(2014)7 on the protection of whistle-blowers, of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers.
142      See for example the United Nations Convention against Corruption; Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (CETS 173); Civil Law Convention on Corruption (CETS 174); Additional Protocol to the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (CETS 191); CM/Rec(2000)10 on codes of conduct for public officials; CM/Res (97) 24 on the twenty guiding principles for the fight against corruption.
143      CM/Rec(2000)10 on codes of conduct for public officials, Article 13.
144      United Nations Convention against Corruption, in particular Article 8.5; CM/Rec(2000)10, Appendix – Model code of conduct for public officials, Articles 13ff; cf. CM/Res (97) 24 on the twenty guiding principles for the fight against corruption.
145      The Venice Commission adopted in 2013 a Report on the Role of Extra-Institutional Actors in the Democratic System (Lobbying) (CDL-AD(2013)011). The European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ) carried out in 2014 a feasibility study on a Council of Europe legal instrument concerning the legal regulation of lobbying activities. It is expected that the draft recommendation will be submitted for approval to the CDCJ plenary meeting in November 2016.
146      An early document (of 1981) is Article 5 of the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data (CETS 108) ; see also Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, Articles 6, 7; in the meantime in the EU a “Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (General Data Protection Regulation)” has been agreed on (Interinstitutional File 2012/0011 (COD) of Dec 15, 2015). Principles of data protection are enshrined in Art. 5. See also a “Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and the Council on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by competent authorities for the purpose of prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or the execution of criminal penalties, and the free movement of such data” (Interinstitutional file: 2012/0010 (COD) of 16 December 2015. In 2013 the OECD adopted “The OECD Privacy Framework”, with “principles” in Part 2.
147      See the Proposal for a Regulation quoted in the previous footnote, Article 14; Directive 95/46/EC, Articles 10-11; CETS 108, Article 8.
148      CDL-AD(2007)014, § 83.
149      Cf. Articles 8 and 13 ECHR.
150      Cf. Articles 8 and 13 ECHR.
151      The level of the interference metadata collection involves in private life is disputed. The CJEU has extended privacy protection to metadata as well. The case law of the ECtHR so far accepts that lesser safeguards can apply for less serious interferences with private life. see CDL-AD(2015)006 §62, 63, 83. Where no prior judicial authorisation is provided for metadata collection, there must at least be strong independent post hoc review..
152      CDL-AD(2015)011, § 8, 69, 129; cf. ECtHR Liberty and others v. the United Kingdom, 58240/00, 1 July 2008, § 59 ff; Weber and Saravia v. Germany (dec.) 54934/00, 29 June 2006, § 85 ff.
153      CDL-AD(2015)011, § 24-27, 115ff, 129.
154      Cf. Articles 8 and 13 ECHR; CDL-AD(2015)011, § 26, 126 ff.
155      CDL-AD(2015)011, § 33.
156      CDL-AD(2015)011, § 1. See e.g. CJEU, C-212/13, František Ryneš v. Urad pro ochranu osobních údaj?, 11 December 2014. CDL-AD(2007)014, § 82.

 

La Catalogne et l’Union européenne : une question de légalité

Les querelles relatives à l’indépendance de la Catalogne ne sont pas indifférentes à l‘espace de liberté, de sécurité et de justice constitué par l’Union européenne. De l’appartenance de la Catalogne au Royaume d’Espagne dépend en effet son appartenance à cette Union européenne et donc son maintien dans cet espace ouvert à la libre circulation et à l’entraide répressive. Quoi que prétendent les uns ou fantasment les autres, la question n’est pas une question d’opportunité mais, beaucoup plus simplement, de légalité. Légalité du processus entamé par les tenants de l’indépendance, surtout, mais aussi légalité des modalités selon lesquelles l’Union pourrait faire place à une Catalogne indépendante.

Faute de trouver dans le débat médiatique européen le rappel de quelques principes juridiques de bon sens, il n’est pas inutile de faire le point sur une crise inédite.

1. « Catalexit » : l’impossible maintien dans l’Union

Après le Brexit, le Grexit ou le Frexit, la litanie des jeux de mots de plus ou moins bon goût est infinie. A quand le Bayerexit, le Scotexit, le Padanexit ou le Flandrexit ? Pourtant, ces cas de figure n’ont rien à voir avec la volonté d’un Etat membre de quitter l’Union. Bien au contraire, ici, une indépendance éventuelle de la Catalogne s’accompagne de la volonté de demeurer dans l’Union tout en quittant le Royaume d’Espagne, argument décisif au regard de l’opinion publique. Il est donc pour le moins hasardeux de se réclamer d’un précédent étatique pour faire dire au droit de l’Union ce qu’il ne dit pas.

a. Affirmation juridique

C’est l’une des clarifications bienvenues apportées par le traité de Lisbonne que d’avoir réglementé le statut des Etats membres dans l’Union plus précisément que par le passé, qu’il s’agisse de leur entrée, de leur maintien ou de leur départ de l’Union. Portant au paroxysme des doutes parfois partagés dans d’autres Etats membres, la crise liée à la volonté de départ du peuple britannique, exprimée par un référendum organisé dans des voies légales, ne correspond en rien au trouble provoqué par la situation catalane. Elle traduit simplement la position d’un Etat membre au regard de sa situation dans l’Union, ce que les dispositions de l’article 50 TUE prévoient en organisant l’exercice cette faculté de retrait. Celui-ci est expressément lié à un respect des dispositions constitutionnelles de l’Etat concerné (« conformément à ses règles constitutionnelles »), preuve de l’attention du droit primaire de l’Union à cette donnée.

La crise née des prétentions à l’indépendance du gouvernement catalan est d’une autre nature, elle est interne malgré la volonté de l’européaniser. Elle se nourrit de l’espérance que l’indépendance de la Catalogne soit compatible avec le « scénario de la permanence » appelé des vœux de ces gouvernants, faisant le pari du « pragmatisme de l’Union » ou, au pire, celui de procédés alternatifs. Ce point de vue de la Generalitat valorise l’intérêt des autres Etats membres pour une présence de la Catalogne au sein de l’Union mais il néglige sans doute par trop des données objectives comme en témoigne l’article 14 de sa Ley de Transitoriedad juridica.

La doctrine de l’Union semble formée quant à la possibilité d’une composante d’un Etat membre de s’en détacher tout en continuant à bénéficier de son appartenance. Elle est faite à la fois d’éléments du droit positif et de considérations de nature politique. Au premier rang, émarge le fait que l’Union est composée d’Etats membres, lesquels sont les maîtres des traités qu’ils ont adoptés et où ils manifestent expressément le respect par l’Union de leurs fonctions essentielles et « notamment celles qui ont pour objet d’assurer l’intégrité territoriale » selon l’article 4 §2 TUE. Il est donc difficile d’y voir un encouragement à un processus sécessionniste quelconque dans l’un de ces membres, d’autant que l’Union se tient prudemment à l’écart de la question. Le même paragraphe invite l’union à respecter l’identité nationale des Etats « inhérente à leurs structures fondamentales politiques et constitutionnelles, y compris en ce qui concerne l’autonomie locale et régionale ».

En dehors de l’hypothèse qui verrait l’Etat membre organiser lui-même son démembrement, dans le respect de ses règles constitutionnelles, comme ce fut le cas du territoire du Groenland sans que la qualité étatique y soit attachée, ou bien être l’objet d’un processus de décolonisation conduisant l’ancienne colonie à quitter l’orbite communautaire, comme à propos des territoires de l’Empire français, il n’existe donc pas de point d’appui à la thèse des indépendantistes catalans. Ce que confirme la pratique politique.

A la suite de son prédécesseur en 2004, Manuel Barroso a ainsi eu l’occasion de répondre (JOCE 6 novembre 2013, C 320 E p. 185) à une série de questions écrites concernant l’hypothétique situation de l’Ecosse, en 2013, dans les opérations référendaires que l’on sait. Il l’a fait en des termes dépourvus de toute ambiguïté. Ces questions ne sont pas neutres pour l’exécutif communautaire ni au vu de la composition passée de l’Union ni à la suite de son élargissement, qu’il s’agisse de constater l’éclatement d’un Etat membre ou de voir apparaître un nouvel Etat. Aussi, la Commission a fixé sa position en confirmant explicitement ce que l’on appelle la « doctrine Prodi », à savoir que l’Union est fondée sur des traités ne s’appliquant qu’aux seuls États membres qui les ont approuvés et ratifiés. Dès lors, si une partie du territoire d’un État membre cessait de faire partie de cet État parce qu’il devait devenir un nouvel État indépendant, les traités ne s’appliqueraient plus à ce territoire.

Autrement dit, un nouvel État indépendant deviendrait, du fait de son indépendance, un pays tiers par rapport à l’UE et les traités ne s’appliqueraient plus sur son territoire. Ce qui, à l’inverse d’excès de langage qualifiant cette situation d’expulsion ou de mise à l’écart, consiste simplement à tirer les conséquences d’un état du droit : la nouvelle entité n’ayant ni signé ni ratifié les traités constitutifs ne saurait y être partie.

b. Confirmation politique

L’attitude générale des institutions de l’Union comme des Etats membres converge à l’évidence en ce sens, renvoyant aux institutions espagnoles et à sa Constitution le règlement des difficultés.

La Commission Juncker a ainsi réaffirmé, le 2 octobre 2017, « le point de vue juridique adopté par la présente Commission et par celles qui l’ont précédée. Si un référendum était organisé d’une façon qui serait conforme à la Constitution espagnole, cela signifierait que le territoire qui partirait se retrouverait en dehors de l’Union européenne ». De la même façon, le débat tenu au Parlement européen, sans être suivi d’un vote quelconque, témoigne-t-il bien de la réticence européenne à accréditer un soutien quelconque aux arguments indépendantistes. Manifestement, les propos introductifs du premier vice-président de la Commission européenne, Frans Timmermans, considérant que la crise catalane relève avant tout d’une question intérieure appartenant à « ceux qui sont concernés », à savoir les « 46 millions d’Européens que sont les citoyens espagnols », ont été partagés par les présidents de groupe seuls autorisés à intervenir. Quant aux Etats membres, à commencer par le voisin français de la Catalogne, ils renvoient également par solidarité aux autorités nationales le soin de régler la question.

Cette rigueur s’explique aisément. Les membres de l’Union n’ont évidemment pas entendu ouvrir la boite de Pandore de leur intégrité en raison de leur appartenance à l’Union, au prétexte que l’herbe européenne paraîtrait à certaines de leurs composantes plus verte que celle de l’Etat nation. Maîtrisant l’entrée comme la sortie de l’Union par le jeu de l’unanimité et celui de leur solidarité mutuelle face à toute menace, les Etats n’entendent donc pas faire de l’intégration européenne le levier de leur éclatement ou de leur disparition progressive.

C’est la raison pour laquelle, des péripéties bavaroises à celles de l’Ecosse, la question de l’indépendance à partir d’un Etat membre actuel de l’Union est soigneusement verrouillée. Récemment, la Cour constitutionnelle de Karlsruhe a ainsi rappelé pour l’exclure qu’un Land, en l’espèce la Bavière, puisse invoquer un éventuel droit à sécession dans la mesure où les Länder ne sont pas « maîtres de la Loi fondamentale ». Ils existent par la Constitution et n’en disposent donc pas.

D’autant que les fondements d‘une telle invocation demeurent des plus fragiles au regard du droit international positif, les situations relatives à l’autodétermination des peuples colonisés n’ayant guère de points communs avec celle de la Catalogne, malgré les affirmations de la Loi 19/2017 du 6 septembre organisant le référendum d’autodétermination.

c. Justification technique

Qui plus est, le droit de l’Union ne peut faire place à la revendication catalane de son maintien dans le cadre européen, au simple moyen d’une déclaration unilatérale d’indépendance. Pour les raisons exposées plus haut mais aussi et surtout pour une autre beaucoup plus élémentaire : l’Union ne connaît que des Etats, ce que ne sera pas la Catalogne par la seule force de sa volonté unilatérale, quoi qu’en pensent ses gouvernants.

Une déclaration unilatérale d’indépendance n’entraine pas en effet, ipso facto, création d’un Etat souverain, susceptible à ce titre de posséder les attributs exigés d’un Etat membre de l’Union. Il lui faut pour cela être reconnu par ses pairs, exigence renvoyant dans le cas de la Catalogne à l’hostilité vraisemblable d’une bonne part des membres de l’Union, à commencer par celui qu’elle entend quitter, le Royaume d’Espagne. La scène internationale fourmille ainsi de déclarations demeurées lettres mortes.

Sans même évoquer la valeur ajoutée de l’appartenance de la Catalogne actuelle aux autres politiques de l’Union, les mêmes arguments produisent évidemment les mêmes effets pour ce qui concerne sa place dans l’espace de liberté. Ils contrarient bien sûr les aspirations de ses gouvernants à négocier un éventuel statut dérogatoire du type de celui des pays associés à Schengen. On en comprend tout l’enjeu tant du point de vue de l’entraide répressive d’un territoire récemment frappé dans les conditions que l’on sait par le terrorisme que du point de vue de la libre circulation. Celle des marchandises sur l’une des principales voies de passage européennes mais aussi et surtout celle des personnes et de ses citoyens dans un espace qui court le risque de leur être fermé à l’avenir.

Là encore, rien n’est possible sans l’assentiment de l’unanimité des partenaires étatiques au sein de l’Union. A cet égard, le véritable droit de veto détenu par l’Espagne et la solidarité qu’il entraînera de la part d’autres Etats membre, peu désireux d’un effet de contagion, ne laissent augurer aucune espèce de concession. Reste alors à imaginer, après sa sortie, le retour hypothétique d’un Etat reconnu par la communauté internationale.

2. « Catalexit » : l’impossible retour dans l’Union

Devenu un Etat tiers à l’Union, une Catalogne indépendante devrait solliciter son « admission » dans l’Union selon le terme de l’article 49 TUE, là où l’on préfère généralement employer le mot « adhésion ». Envisageant une « adhésion ad hoc » ou « ordinaire », les dirigeants de la Catalogne courent un risque évident de se confronter à la réalité du droit de l’Union européenne. Leur action s’est en effet soustraite au respect des exigences posées par les traités pour admettre un nouvel Etat membre.

a. Respect des valeurs de l’Union

En vertu de l’article 49 du traité sur l’Union européenne, tout « État » européen qui respecte les principes énoncés à l’article 2 du traité sur l’Union européenne peut demander à devenir membre de l’Union.

Remplir l’ensemble de ces conditions, déjà, n’est pas aussi évident qu’il y paraît, outre les difficultés à voir émerger un « Etat » catalan sur la scène internationale. Que cela plaise ou non, c’est bien au regard du droit espagnol et de sa Constitution, adoptée librement par les habitants de Catalogne en 1978, que toute évaluation doit se faire, notamment lorsque ce texte déclare que l’Espagne est indivisible. Là encore, une simple déclaration unilatérale d’indépendance ne saurait suffire à établir ne serait-ce que la recevabilité de la demande catalane, sans revenir sur les propos précédents.

« Le tsunami de démocratie » (Le Monde du 7.09.2017) promis par le président de la Communauté autonome pour répondre au « tsunami des plaintes » est loin d’avoir eu un effet convaincant, bien au contraire. Il est même susceptible de constituer un obstacle non négligeable à un éventuel retour de la Catalogne par la grande porte. Il convient en effet que l’Etat candidat respecte les « valeurs » énumérées à l’article 2 TUE et, là, le bât blesse doublement.

En premier lieu, le caractère illégal de la consultation organisée le 1er octobre 2017 et celui de son déroulement paraissent difficiles à contester en l’état du dossier. Les conditions du vote de la loi catalane par le parlement régional, sa contrariété avec l’ordre juridique espagnol et sa suspension légitime par le Tribunal constitutionnel espagnol constituent des obstacles infranchissables du point de vue du droit de l’Union. Ce que le président du Parlement européen a résumé de façon abrupte en indiquant que toute action contre la Constitution d’un Etat membre allait à l’encontre de l’ordre juridique de l’Union car respecter la primauté du droit et les limites qu’il impose à ceux qui gouvernent n’est pas un choix mais une obligation.

A cela s’ajoute le fait que nombre des arguments évoqués par les tenants de l’indépendance sont également susceptibles de poser les mêmes problèmes au regard des conditions fixées par les traités lorsqu’ils sont ouvertement exprimés dans des discours bavarois, flamands, écossais ou à la Ligue du Nord. L’Union est, en effet, fondée sur la « solidarité » de ses membres qu’elle promeut, en vertu de l’article 3 TUE. Avoir notamment pour motivation d’entrée dans l’Union le souci de ne plus partager cette solidarité avec les composantes de l’Etat que l’on entend quitter suscitera en effet la réflexion à la Commission en charge d’examiner la demande d’admission comme chez les Etats membres l’appréciant … En tout état de cause, elle éclaire ce discours des régions européennes nanties de manière peu engageante.

b. Hostilité d’une Union d’Etats

La recevabilité de la candidature catalane à l’Union passe par une réintégration de son action dans un cadre légal, celui de l’Etat espagnol, à la condition que les compromis nécessaires le permettent. Ce qu’indique la Commission en déclarant qu’il « s’agit d’une question interne à l’Espagne qui doit être réglée dans le respect de l’ordre constitutionnel de ce pays ».

Sans compter qu’à supposer cette demande d’admission recevable techniquement, il faut en passer par les fourches caudines des Etats membres et, en particulier de celui que l’on quitte. En vertu des traités, le Conseil doit accepter cette demande à l’unanimité et elle doit recevoir l’approbation de la majorité du Parlement européen… Là encore le verrou étatique apparaît impossible à faire sauter et la naïveté de l’espérance d’une reconnaissance « tacite ou implicite » exprimée par le Consell Assesor per la Transicio Nacional de la Generalitat de Catalunya surprend.

D’où le sentiment partagé d’une impasse dans laquelle la démarche catalane s’est engouffrée, sans beaucoup de réflexion préalable. C’est un fait, que l’on peut regretter, mais le pari de l’appui sur l’intégration européenne pour se délivrer de l’Etat est un pari perdu d’avance, en l’état de son développement. Admettre, même sur un plan strictement politique, le discours des indépendantistes catalans constituerait un précédent très difficile à imaginer dans une Union européenne taraudée par le doute et l’égoïsme de ses membres. De l’opposition entre grands et petits Etats à celle des riches et des pauvres ou du Nord et du Sud, ou de l’Ouest et de l’Est et des anciens et des nouveaux, tout concourt à refuser d’importer la donnée indépendantiste dans le débat européen, les Etats membres refusant de se contempler dans le miroir que leur tend la crise catalane.

Indifférente quand elle n’est pas hostile à l’autonomie locale, la construction européenne a accepté sans débat que les Etats membres conservent la maîtrise exclusive du cadre de cette construction. Le principe d’autonomie institutionnelle et procédurale a ainsi confié les clés du processus d’intégration à un Etat central parfaitement conscient des risques qu’il présentait pour son unité. Il a donc taillé un modèle communautaire à l’image de cette préoccupation, verrouillant toute possibilité d’émancipation qui ne serait pas négociée et acceptée par l’Etat membre.

Dans un climat plus apaisé, il serait permis d’en débattre. Par exemple pour regretter son impact sur la démocratie locale ou la lecture du principe de subsidiarité qui en découle. Ou alors réfléchir à l’avenir d’une Europe accentuant sa diversité et son éclatement face aux défis de la mondialisation et au besoin d’un bien commun. Car c’est là une question essentielle : au XXI° siècle, le nationalisme des nantis est-il encore un avenir ?

UK/EU Security Cooperation After Brexit: the UK Government’s Future Partnership Papers

ORIGINAL PUBLISHED ON EU LAW ANALYSIS

Professor Steve Peers

The Prime Minister’s big speech in Florence has received the most attention in recent weeks, but it’s also worth looking at the UK government’s recent papers on its planned EU/UK close partnership after Brexit.  I’ll look here at the papers on two aspects of security – external security (foreign policy and defence) on the one hand, and internal security (police and criminal law cooperation) on the other. Both of them are impacted in the short term by the Florence speech, since the Prime Minister called for the current UK/EU security arrangements to apply for a period of around two years, followed by a comprehensive EU/UK security treaty. Assuming that such a transition period is agreed, the issue is what happens after that. In other words, what will be the content of that future comprehensive security treaty?

External security: Foreign policy and defence

The UK government’s foreign policy paper devotes much of its space – the first 17 pages – to explaining the UK’s major commitments in this field, including via its EU membership. A Martian reader would assume that the UK was applying to join the Union. Only the last few pages discuss the government’s preferred policy – which is both rather vague and highly resembles EU membership.

In short (although there’s no long version), the government seeks to maintain a relationship with the EU in this field that’s closer than any other non-EU country – although without offering many specifics. The government does, however, state that it wants to contribute to EU defence missions and to align sanctions regimes with the EU. The point about sanctions is particularly relevant, since the UK provides intelligence to justify their imposition and some of the individuals concerned have placed their assets in the UK.

For instance, in the recent ECJ judgment in Rosneft (discussed here), which followed a reference from the UK courts, the sanctioned company tried to reopen the case to argue that the referendum result already meant that EU sanctions ceased to apply in the UK. The ECJ simply replied that the Russian company had not explained how the Brexit vote altered the jurisdiction of the Court or the effect of its judgments.

Of course, the legal position will certainly change from Brexit Day: the UK government plans to propose a new Bill regulating post-Brexit sanctions policy in the near future, following a White Paper on this issue earlier this year (see also the government response to that consultation). One key question will be whether that Bill already attempts to regulate the UK’s post-Brexit coordination with the EU on sanctions, or whether that will be left to the Brexit negotiations to address.

This brings us to the issue of the ECJ, which is a difficult question as regards many aspects of the Brexit talks. In principle, in the area of foreign policy and defence, Brexit talks should not be too complicated by ECJ issues, since the Court has only limited jurisdiction. However, as the case of Rosneft illustrates, it does have jurisdiction over sanctions issues. In fact, there are frequent challenges to EU sanctions and many challenges are successful, so there will be a risk of divergence between EU and UK policy after Brexit that may need to be discussed. Such divergence could lead to a knock-on complication with capital movement between the UK and EU.

The paper also covers development and external migration policy, where the UK again seeks something which is both vague and much like membership – collaboration on coordinating policy. While the EU has its own development policy, Member States are free to have their own policies, subject to loose coordination – which is what the UK is aiming for as a non-member.

This was, perhaps, a missed opportunity here to touch on the most difficult issue in the talks: the financial liabilities upon leaving in the EU. Some of the EU’s spending in these areas is not part of the ordinary EU budget (as the ECJ has confirmed), although it is part of the EU negotiation position. So the UK could have addressed that issue to move talks along and to make links between ‘upfront’ and ‘future’ issues to get around sequencing problems in the Brexit talks. (The Prime Minister’s subsequent speech in Florence did not explicitly mention these funds). Furthermore, the UK government could have used this paper to reassure some febrile people that it will have a veto on what it chooses to participate in, as well as on the ECJ.

Internal security: Criminal Law and Policing

In many ways, the government paper on criminal law matters is similar to the foreign policy paper. It also starts out by saying how useful the current relationship is, for instance as regards data on wanted persons and stolen objects uploaded into the Schengen Information System, the use of the European Arrest Warrant for fast-track extradition, and the EU police intelligence agency, Europol.

What happens after Brexit? The UK paper correctly points out that the EU already has agreements in this area with many non-EU countries, particularly as regards the exchange of policing data but also as regards some forms of criminal justice cooperation. But as with foreign policy and defence, the UK wants a distinctive relationship after Brexit, given the existing close links.

Again, however, the actual content of what the UK wants is vague. Which of the current EU laws in this field which the UK has signed up to (for a summary of those laws, see my referendum briefing here) would it still like to participate in? The only clear point is that the government doesn’t want direct ECJ jurisdiction. In principle, that should be fine for the long term, since the EU27 negotiation position only refers to the ECJ during a transition period. There’s no insistence on using it afterward, which is consistent with EU treaties in this field with non-EU countries.

However, some of those treaties refer to taking account of each other’s case law, and dispute settlement or (in some treaties) possible termination in the event of judicial or legislative divergences. The UK paper gives no idea of how it will tackle those issues, whereas the recent paper on the parallel issue of civil litigation (discussed here) at least indicated a willingness to require UK courts to take account of relevant ECJ rulings.

Comments

The contrast between the importance of these issues and the vagueness with which they are treated is striking. Imagine a television viewer aching to watch Tenko or Broadchurch – but having to settle for Last of the Summer Wine.  It is fair to assume that the government has more detailed plans than this but doesn’t want to release them; but presumably anything more specific would have opened division in the cabinet or run the perceived risk of making the government look awkward by disclosing an ultimately unsuccessful negotiation position (what the government refers to as undermining negotiations). Increasingly these papers look like an attempt to respond to poor polls about negotiations rather than a contribution to the talks.

The government does have a point, however: the UK and EU have significant shared interests in this area, and the UK has a lot to offer, in terms of its defence contribution, supply of intelligence and round-up of fugitives from other Member States, for instance. Of course, the UK benefits in turn from having swifter access to other countries’ intelligence, as well as fast track extradition and transfer of criminal evidence.  The Brexit process might also be an opportunity to address the civil liberties concerns that sometimes arise about these measures, but there is no detailed discussion of that.

It will likely be awhile before these issues are discussed in detail in the talks, and it remains to be seen how interested the EU27 side is in the UK government’s position. But at first sight, it seems possible that the future of the EU/UK relationship on security issues will not be vastly different from the present.

European Public Prosecutor Office (EPPO) : too little, too complex but, still, a step in the right direction…

On October 5th the European Parliament consented to the creation of the European Public Prosecutor Office as foreseen by the art. 86 (*) of the Treaty on Functioning of the European Union. Following this vote the Council adopted on October 12th the 200 pages long Regulation  creating this new EU body. It has been adopted following the enhanced cooperation procedure foreseen by art. 86 TFEU and it will not cover  UK, IRL, DK (which have not opted in) and Malta, Nederland, Polonia, Sweden and Hungary.

It has been a rather long and bumpy road before reaching this result.

Itcould had been much better since the original proposals in the so-called “Corpus Juris” debated by the decades ago by the Commission and the EP  but it is a small step in the right direction. Needless to say in the meantime two other complementary initiatives are negotiated : the long awaited revision of Eurojust (which is more a cooperative tool between the Member states than a beginning of a supranational EU Agency such as the European Public Prosecutor should be…) and an upgrade of OLAF the administrative (and not judiciary) body which is already fighting the fraud against European resources.

Bringing all these tools together will not be easy but, as always the EU progresses by making a step in one direction and another on the side… A positive signal is the Commission announcement to empower the EPPO of terrorism and serious offenses as recently requested (?) by French President Macron and endorsed by the European Commission President Juncker. However a new legislative proposal could be on the Institution’s table only next year and this means that it could not be seriously negotiated before 2020 or 2021 by the new European Parliament (if in the meantime there will no be some other “horrific” terrorist attack..). However, be patient, this is how a 28 Member States Union can work..

As far as the current version of the EPPO is concerned the EP Rapporteur Barbara MATERA has made a rather clear abstract of the new text  in her explanatory note to the Recommendation to the Plenary :

The protection and prosecution of offences against the EU budget and the financial interests of the EU is currently within the exclusive competence of Member States. OLAF, Eurojust and Europol do not have the mandate to conduct criminal investigations and the EPPO will fill this institutional gap.

The establishment of the EPPO will bring about substantial change in the way the Union’s financial interests are protected. It will combine European and national law-enforcement efforts in a unified, seamless and efficient approach to counter EU-frauds. Currently, only national authorities can investigate and prosecute EU-fraud and their competences stop at their national borders.

On the 17 July of 2013, the European Commission submitted a proposal for a regulation of the Council to set up the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) defining its competences and procedures. Article 86 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) provides with the legal basis and the rules for setting up the EPPO. Under Art. 86, the proposed regulation is to be adopted in accordance with the Consent legislative procedure: the Council is to decide unanimously after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.

On 7 February 2017, the Council registered the absence of unanimity in support of the proposal. Under Article 86 of the Treaty on the functioning of the EU, this opens the way for a group of at least nine Member States to refer the text for discussion to the European Council for a final attempt at securing consensus. The rapporteur regrets that only 20 Member States participate, to date, at the enhanced cooperation and encourages non-participating Member States to join as well in the future.

On 8 June, the Member States participating in enhanced cooperation adopted a general approach on the proposal.

The EP has adopted 3 interim reports (2014, 2015 and 2016) related to EPPO where it has raised number of concerns regarding the competences of the EPPO, PIF directive and VAT fraud, structure, investigations, procedural rights, judicial review and relations with other relevant EU agencies.

•  The structure of the EPPO 

The EPPO will be a body of the Union with a decentralised structure with the aim of integrating the national law enforcement authorities. A European Public Prosecutor will head the EPPO and every participating member will be represented with one prosecutor. According to the Regulation the investigations will be carried out by European Delegated Prosecutors (EDPS) located in each Member State. The number of EDPs for Member States will be decided nationally but each one should have at least one. The Delegated Prosecutors will be an integral part of the EPPO but also continue to exercise their functions as national prosecutors. When acting for the EPPO, they will be fully independent from the national prosecution bodies.

•  Competences

The EPPO will be responsible for investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgment the perpetrators of offences against the Union’s financial interests. The functions of prosecutor will be carried out within the competent courts of the Member States in relation to such offences.

The set of competences and proceedings for the EPPO, include the proposed directive on fighting fraud against the Union’s financial interests by means of criminal law (‘PIF directive’). In December 2016, the EP and the Council reached a provisional agreement on the PIF proposal. They agreed to include serious cases of cross-border VAT frauds in the scope of the directive, setting the threshold value at €10 million.

The rapporteur welcomes that the “damage” criterion has been largely mitigated by exceptions introduced and is no longer applicable to Art 3(a), (b) and (d) of the PIF Directive (non-procurement related expenditure; procurement related expenditure and revenue arising from VAT own resources). The possibility to transfer cases from national authorities to EPPO, for which EPPO otherwise would not be able to exercise competence, has been introduced.

The EPPO regulation widens the scope of reporting obligations by national authorities and gives EPPO more possibilities to request additional information. The cross-border dimension of the serious crimes that fall under the competences of the EPPO could, in the future, be extended.

•  Judicial review

The EPPO Regulation ensures a comprehensive system of judicial review by national courts and allows for possibilities of direct review by the ECJ (EPPO decision to dismiss a case, contested on the basis of EU law, disputes relating to compensation of damage caused by the EPPO, disputes concerning arbitration clauses, staff-related matters and decisions affecting data subjects’ rights such as the right of public access to documents).

•  Investigative measures

EPPO will have sufficient investigative measures available to conduct its investigations. Art. 30 of the regulation provides for a list of measures where the offence subject to the investigation is punishable by a maximum penalty of at least four years of imprisonment. In this regard, the co-legislators have agreed on criteria for Member States to make requests for investigative measures based on the principle of mutual recognition set out in Directive 2014/41/EU regarding the European Investigation Order in criminal matters.

•  Procedural safeguards  

The protection of the procedural rights of suspected and accused persons is guaranteed in full compliance with the rights of suspects and accused persons enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The regulation provide for rights of defence for EPPO suspects, in particular the right to legal aid, the right to interpretation and translation, the right to information and access to case materials, and the right to present evidence and to ask the EPPO to collect evidence on behalf of the suspect.

•  Eurojust, OLAF and Europol

As a necessary tool for exercising its duties, the EPPO may have to establish and maintain cooperative relations with existing Union agencies, offices or bodies such as Eurojust, OLAF and Europol.

EPPO and Eurojust in particular need to see their competences defined clearly in order to ensure legal certainty. With the aim of avoiding detrimental repetition and overlapping competences between the two offices, competences must be clearly delimited and defined. On a case-by-case basis, based on precise criteria, the two offices can work closely sharing information on their investigations.

In its relations with OLAF, the EPPO shall establish a close cooperation especially on information exchange. Provisions in the regulation provide for avoiding parallel investigations into the same facts. EPPO may request OLAF to provide information, facilitate coordination and conduct administrative investigations.

The relationship between EPPO and Europol will be based on strict cooperation and EPPO, when necessary for the purpose of its investigations, shall be able to obtain any relevant information held by Europol.

•  Non-Participating countries

The rapporteur welcomes the Council decision to include in the provisions of Art. 59a, concerning the relations between the EPPO and the Member States that do not participate in enhanced cooperation, the request for these to notify the EPPO as a competent authority for the purpose to respect the judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

•  Conclusions

Even though the rapporteur would welcome a more ambitious regulation, she considers that the EP concerns has been largely addressed in the text as it stands now.

The rapporteur regrets that not all the Member States of the EU participate to the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor Office but welcomes the fact that 20 of them reached a general approach that includes particularly PIF crimes and in particular serious VAT frauds. The rapporteur encourages non-participating Member States to join the enhanced cooperation in the future.

NOTES

(*) ART 86 TFEU:

1.         In order to combat crimes affecting the financial interests of the Union, the Council, by means of regulations adopted in accordance with a special legislative procedure, may establish a European Public Prosecutor’s Office from Eurojust. The Council shall act unanimously after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.

In the absence of unanimity in the Council, a group of at least nine Member States may request that the draft regulation be referred to the European Council. In that case, the procedure in the Council shall be suspended. After discussion, and in case of a consensus, the European Council shall, within four months of this suspension, refer the draft back to the Council for adoption.

Within the same timeframe, in case of disagreement, and if at least nine Member States wish to establish enhanced cooperation on the basis of the draft regulation concerned, they shall notify the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission accordingly. In such a case, the authorisation to proceed with enhanced cooperation referred to in Article 20(2) of the Treaty on European Union and Article 329(1) of this Treaty shall be deemed to be granted and the provisions on enhanced cooperation shall apply.

2.         The European Public Prosecutor’s Office shall be responsible for investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgment, where appropriate in liaison with Europol, the perpetrators of, and accomplices in, offences against the Union’s financial interests, as determined by the regulation provided for in paragraph 1. It shall exercise the functions of prosecutor in the competent courts of the Member States in relation to such offences.

3.         The regulations referred to in paragraph 1 shall determine the general rules applicable to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, the conditions governing the performance of its functions, the rules of procedure applicable to its activities, as well as those governing the admissibility of evidence, and the rules applicable to the judicial review of procedural measures taken by it in the performance of its functions.

4.         The European Council may, at the same time or subsequently, adopt a decision amending paragraph 1 in order to extend the powers of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office to include serious crime having a cross-border dimension and amending accordingly paragraph 2 as regards the perpetrators of, and accomplices in, serious crimes affecting more than one Member State. The European Council shall act unanimously after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament and after consulting the Commission.

FURTHER REFERENCES (as suggested by the EP Research Service)

Further reading:

For further information: Piotr Bąkowski, Sofija Voronova, legislative-train@europarl.europa.eu

As of 20 September 2017

The protection and prosecution of offences against the EU budget and the financial interests of the EU is currently within the exclusive competence of Member States. OLAF, Eurojust and Europol do not have the mandate to conduct criminal investigations and the EPPO will fill this institutional gap.

The establishment of the EPPO will bring about substantial change in the way the Union’s financial interests are protected. It will combine European and national law-enforcement efforts in a unified, seamless and efficient approach to counter EU-frauds. Currently, only national authorities can investigate and prosecute EU-fraud and their competences stop at their national borders.

On the 17 July of 2013, the European Commission submitted a proposal for a regulation of the Council to set up the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) defining its competences and procedures. Article 86 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) provides with the legal basis and the rules for setting up the EPPO. Under Art. 86, the proposed regulation is to be adopted in accordance with the Consent legislative procedure: the Council is to decide unanimously after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.

On 7 February 2017, the Council registered the absence of unanimity in support of the proposal. Under Article 86 of the Treaty on the functioning of the EU, this opens the way for a group of at least nine Member States to refer the text for discussion to the European Council for a final attempt at securing consensus. The rapporteur regrets that only 20 Member States participate, to date, at the enhanced cooperation and encourages non-participating Member States to join as well in the future.

On 8 June, the Member States participating in enhanced cooperation adopted a general approach on the proposal.

The EP has adopted 3 interim reports (2014, 2015 and 2016) related to EPPO where it has raised number of concerns regarding the competences of the EPPO, PIF directive and VAT fraud, structure, investigations, procedural rights, judicial review and relations with other relevant EU agencies.

•  The structure of the EPPO

The EPPO will be a body of the Union with a decentralised structure with the aim of integrating the national law enforcement authorities. A European Public Prosecutor will head the EPPO and every participating member will be represented with one prosecutor. According to the Regulation the investigations will be carried out by European Delegated Prosecutors (EDPS) located in each Member State. The number of EDPs for Member States will be decided nationally but each one should have at least one. The Delegated Prosecutors will be an integral part of the EPPO but also continue to exercise their functions as national prosecutors. When acting for the EPPO, they will be fully independent from the national prosecution bodies.

•  Competences

The EPPO will be responsible for investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgment the perpetrators of offences against the Union’s financial interests. The functions of prosecutor will be carried out within the competent courts of the Member States in relation to such offences.

The set of competences and proceedings for the EPPO, include the proposed directive on fighting fraud against the Union’s financial interests by means of criminal law (‘PIF directive’). In December 2016, the EP and the Council reached a provisional agreement on the PIF proposal. They agreed to include serious cases of cross-border VAT frauds in the scope of the directive, setting the threshold value at €10 million.

The rapporteur welcomes that the “damage” criterion has been largely mitigated by exceptions introduced and is no longer applicable to Art 3(a), (b) and (d) of the PIF Directive (non-procurement related expenditure; procurement related expenditure and revenue arising from VAT own resources). The possibility to transfer cases from national authorities to EPPO, for which EPPO otherwise would not be able to exercise competence, has been introduced.

The EPPO regulation widens the scope of reporting obligations by national authorities and gives EPPO more possibilities to request additional information. The cross-border dimension of the serious crimes that fall under the competences of the EPPO could, in the future, be extended.

•  Judicial review

The EPPO Regulation ensures a comprehensive system of judicial review by national courts and allows for possibilities of direct review by the ECJ (EPPO decision to dismiss a case, contested on the basis of EU law, disputes relating to compensation of damage caused by the EPPO, disputes concerning arbitration clauses, staff-related matters and decisions affecting data subjects’ rights such as the right of public access to documents).

•  Investigative measures

EPPO will have sufficient investigative measures available to conduct its investigations. Art. 30 of the regulation provides for a list of measures where the offence subject to the investigation is punishable by a maximum penalty of at least four years of imprisonment. In this regard, the co-legislators have agreed on criteria for Member States to make requests for investigative measures based on the principle of mutual recognition set out in Directive 2014/41/EU regarding the European Investigation Order in criminal matters.

•  Procedural safeguards

The protection of the procedural rights of suspected and accused persons is guaranteed in full compliance with the rights of suspects and accused persons enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The regulation provide for rights of defence for EPPO suspects, in particular the right to legal aid, the right to interpretation and translation, the right to information and access to case materials, and the right to present evidence and to ask the EPPO to collect evidence on behalf of the suspect.

•  Eurojust, OLAF and Europol

As a necessary tool for exercising its duties, the EPPO may have to establish and maintain cooperative relations with existing Union agencies, offices or bodies such as Eurojust, OLAF and Europol.

EPPO and Eurojust in particular need to see their competences defined clearly in order to ensure legal certainty. With the aim of avoiding detrimental repetition and overlapping competences between the two offices, competences must be clearly delimited and defined. On a case-by-case basis, based on precise criteria, the two offices can work closely sharing information on their investigations.

In its relations with OLAF, the EPPO shall establish a close cooperation especially on information exchange. Provisions in the regulation provide for avoiding parallel investigations into the same facts. EPPO may request OLAF to provide information, facilitate coordination and conduct administrative investigations.

The relationship between EPPO and Europol will be based on strict cooperation and EPPO, when necessary for the purpose of its investigations, shall be able to obtain any relevant information held by Europol.

•  Non-Participating countries

The rapporteur welcomes the Council decision to include in the provisions of Art. 59a, concerning the relations between the EPPO and the Member States that do not participate in enhanced cooperation, the request for these to notify the EPPO as a competent authority for the purpose to respect the judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

•  Conclusions

Even though the rapporteur would welcome a more ambitious regulation, she considers that the EP concerns has been largely addressed in the text as it stands now.

The rapporteur regrets that not all the Member States of the EU participate to the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor Office but welcomes the fact that 20 of them reached a general approach that includes particularly PIF crimes and in particular serious VAT frauds. The rapporteur encourages non-participating Member States to join the enhanced cooperation in the future.

Asylum Legislative Package: State of Play (according to the Council of the European Union)

Council Presidency Progress report  Reform of the Common European Asylum System and Resettlement  (Source : Council Document n. 12802/17)

NOTA BENE : Emphasis and links to the Procedural files on the EP Legislative Observatory have been added)

I INTRODUCTION

On 4 May and 13 July 2016, the Commission submitted seven legislative proposals aimed at reforming the Common European Asylum System. This package included the recast of the Dublin Regulation and of the Eurodac Regulation, a proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of the European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA), a proposal for a Regulation establishing a common procedure in the EU, a proposal for a Qualification Regulation, the recast of the Reception Conditions Directive and a proposal for a Regulation establishing a Union Resettlement Framework.

The Estonian Presidency has taken forward the examination of the above-mentioned proposals, initiated by the Netherlands Presidency and continued by the Slovak and Maltese Presidencies. The current progress report builds on the previous report presented to the Council on 9 June, as set out in document 9781/17.

II DUBLIN REGULATION (COD 2016/0133)

Pursuant to the repeated requests by the European Council on making progress on the EU’s asylum policy and building on the progress made under the Maltese Presidency, the Estonian Presidency has taken forward the discussions with a view to reaching a compromise on the effective application of the principles of solidarity and responsibility. This work has been based on the common understanding of the need to strike the right balance between the principles of responsibility and solidarity and the need to ensure resilience to future crises, as well as on the broad support for a comprehensive approach of which the reform of CEAS is only one aspect.

Building on the elements, which were identified under the Maltese Presidency as the ones, which could attract a good measure of agreement and on those that needed further work, the current Presidency has focused on a number of key specific issues to consolidate the required support.

In the bilateral contacts with delegations, the Presidency has aimed at consolidating the understanding of all the generally stable points and finding as much common ground as possible on issues where the compromise has so far not proved possible.

Based on these contacts, the issue will be further discussed at political level in due course in order to find the right balance that would allow for continuation of the examination of the Commission proposal by the Council preparatory bodies. It has to be stressed that all the aspects of the current reform are interlinked and compromise will be required on all sides in order to establish the required support leading to the reform of the current CEAS.

III.       RECEPTION CONDITIONS DIRECTIVE (COD 2016/0222)

The proposal on the recast of the Reception Conditions Directive was initially examined by the Asylum Working Party and is currently being pursued by the JHA Counsellors. Progress was made on many aspects of the proposal. However, some issues still need to be tackled, in particular the provisions related to the measures aimed at preventing secondary movements, including the assignment of residence, detention and the reduction and withdrawal of material reception conditions, as well as the provisions on the unaccompanied minors.

The Presidency aims at reaching a partial general approach and at starting negotiations with the EP at the earliest opportunity.

IV QUALIFICATION REGULATION (COD 2016/0223)

Under Estonian Presidency, a mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament was obtained in Coreper on 19 July 2017. The provisions containing cross-references to other proposals in the CEAS package and specific provisions, which need further discussion in the Council preparatory bodies, are not included in this mandate and are expected to be agreed at a later stage. Two specific issues (the definitions of family members and a new annex, which would contain the various information to be provided to the beneficiaries of international protection) are also not included in the mandate either. The Presidency intends to discuss further these two issues already in October with the aim of including them in a revised mandate by the end of its term.

The trilogues with the European Parliament have started in September 2017. The first discussions highlighted, among others, the following sensitive issues: approximation of both statuses and length of residence permits, Internal Protection Alternative and its application, status reviews for beneficiaries of refugee and subsidiary protection statuses, the possibility for a beneficiary of international protection to remain on the territory of the Member State for three months after the withdrawal of the status on the basis of cessation (“grace period”). On these aspects, the positions of the Council and of the European Parliament are very different and, therefore, complex negotiations are to be envisaged.

The Presidency’s aim is to advance the discussions with the European Parliament as much as possible towards an agreement by the end of its term.

V PROCEDURES REGULATION (COD 2016/0224)

The Estonian Presidency finalised the first examination of the whole proposal on the Asylum Procedure Regulation, in the beginning of September, and started the discussion of the first draft compromise proposals in the Asylum Working Party in the same month. In June 2017, the European Council gave a clear mandate to the Council to align the Commission´s proposal on the Asylum Procedures Regulation, regarding the safe third country concept, with the effective requirements of the Geneva Convention and the EU primary law. In order to identify the best way to fulfil this mandate, the Presidency held a policy debate on this issue in SCIFA (28 September 2017). As a next step, the Presidency aims to redraft the relevant provisions in the Asylum Procedure Regulation. The Presidency intends to pursue the examination of the compromise proposals and to make as much progress as possible towards a general approach.

VI EURODAC REGULATION (COD 2016/0132)

Following the agreement at Coreper, on 15 June 2017, on an extended mandate for negotiations with the EP and the vote in the LIBE committee, on 30 May 2017, negotiations between the Council and the European Parliament on the recast Eurodac Regulation started in September 2017.

While the positions of both the Council and the EP are rather similar on most provisions of the recast Regulation, access of law enforcement authorities to Eurodac, data retention periods and special provisions relating to minors can be expected to require negotiations that are expected to be more complex. Both co-legislators aim at reaching an agreement on this file before the end of the term of the current Presidency.

As regards the inclusion of data on resettled persons in Eurodac, the Presidency will present drafting proposals to the Council preparatory bodies in order to complete the mandate for negotiations with the European Parliament.

VII.      EUAA REGULATION (COD 2016/0131)

Following the agreement on a partial general approach in Council, on 20 December 2016, the Maltese Presidency started negotiations with the European Parliament in January 2017.

As a result of a series of technical meetings and trilogues, the Maltese Presidency reached an agreement on the enacting terms of the text during the trilogue of 28 June. The Estonian Presidency is currently continuing work at a technical level in order to align the recitals of the text with the main body of the proposal. The issue of references to other proposals in the field of the CEAS that have been placed in square brackets in the Council´s mandate for inter-institutional negotiations still needs to be reflected upon after the end of technical discussions.

VIII.    RESETTLEMENT REGULATION (COD 2016/0225)

JHA Counsellors have pursued the discussion on the Resettlement Framework Regulation and have examined draft compromise proposals at two meetings under the Estonian Presidency (18 September and 3 October).

Progress has already been made on many aspects of the proposal, but there are still some issues that remain open, including the definitions and the scope of “resettlement” and “humanitarian admission” as well as the status given to the persons admitted.

The Presidency is currently working on new compromise proposals in order to make progress in this file at JHA Counsellors level. The Presidency aims to reach a Council´s mandate for starting negotiations with the European Parliament at the earliest opportunity.

CONCLUSION : COREPER and Council are invited to take note of this progress report.

 

La solidarité n’est pas une valeur : la validation de la relocalisation temporaire des demandeurs d’asile par la Cour de justice (CJUE, 6 septembre 2017, Slovaquie et Hongrie c. Conseil, C-643/15 et C-647/15)

 

Par Henri LabayleCDRE

La rentrée judiciaire de l’automne 2017 était attendue impatiemment et le prononcé de l’arrêt Slovaquie et Hongrie contre Conseil, le 6 septembre, s’inscrivait en première ligne de cette attente. Le contexte en est connu, celui du refus des pays du groupe de Visegrad de se plier au programme de relocalisation des réfugiés initié au plus fort de la crise migratoire par l’Union. Deux d’entre eux l’avaient porté devant la Cour de justice.

La lecture des remarquables conclusions de l’avocat général Bot laissait entrevoir la possibilité d’un « grand arrêt ». Les enjeux en cause comme la nature des principes invoqués invitaient la Cour à une hauteur de vue à la mesure inverse des arguments développés par les requérants. L’occasion lui était offerte à peu de frais, par un arrêt clair et courageux, de se joindre au concert critique affectant certains nouveaux Etats membres quant à leur comportement lors de la crise de 2015. Peut-être même de réparer l’impression mitigée laissée par sa jurisprudence relative aux visas dits humanitaires et à l’accord UE-Turquie concernant cette période. Elle n’en a pas ressenti la nécessité, dans une Union doutant pourtant de son projet et de ses valeurs, préférant ainsi le biais à l’affirmation et l’omission à la condamnation.

I – Faute de proclamation, de l’instrumentalisation du principe de solidarité

Les données de l’affaire sont suffisamment connues pour ne pas appeler davantage de développements : l’adoption d’une décision du Conseil prévoyant la relocalisation contraignante dans les Etats de l’Union, sur une période de deux ans, de 120 000 personnes ayant manifestement besoin d’une protection internationale. Visant à soulager l’Italie et la Grèce, cette décision est fondée sur l’article 78 §3 TFUE. Ce dernier, « au cas où un ou plusieurs États membres se trouvent dans une situation d’urgence caractérisée par un afflux soudain de ressortissants de pays tiers », autorise le Conseil à adopter des mesures provisoires au profit de ces Etats en difficulté, sur proposition de la Commission et après consultation du Parlement européen.

Le recours en annulation de la Slovaquie et de la Hongrie va être soutenu par la Pologne tandis que la Belgique, l’Allemagne, la Grèce, la France, l’Italie, le Luxembourg, la Suède interviendront avec la Commission au soutien du Conseil. Cette ligne de fracture est très politique. Elle explique un arrêt long, détaillé et minutieux, fait de 345 considérants répondant aux 16 moyens soulevés par les requérants (!!!).

On passera sans difficultés sur les multiples points établissant la légalité externe de la décision contestée, malgré leur grand intérêt quant à la distinction entre acte législatif et acte non législatif et aux conséquences procédurales en découlant. Ce qui nous intéresse en l’espèce porte sur le fond de la politique européenne d’asile.

a. une dérogation provisoire au règlement Dublin

La première particularité de la décision 2015/1060 de relocaliser 120 000 personnes dans l’Union, outre sa charge symbolique, réside dans la brèche qu’elle ouvre dans le système de « Dublin » qui régit la politique commune d’asile. Elle est ouvertement revendiquée par son considérant 23 : relocaliser un demandeur dans un autre Etat que celui considéré comme responsable de la demande par le règlement « Dublin » constitue bien une « dérogation temporaire » à celui-ci.

D’où une contestation double, celle de la possibilité pour un acte non législatif de déroger à un texte législatif, et celle du caractère « provisoire » ou pas de cette dérogation, l’article 78 TFUE n’autorisant que des mesures de ce type.

Pour ce qui est de la première critique et après un examen minutieux, la Cour va estimer que les dérogations prévues par la décision attaquée ne mettent pas en cause des actes législatifs. Elles se limitent strictement à répondre de manière rapide et effective, par un dispositif provisoire, à une situation de crise précise. Elles répondent de ce fait et de cet ensemble de précautions à l’exigence d’un encadrement de leur champ d’application matériel et temporel. Aussi, elles n’ont ni pour objet ni pour effet de remplacer ou de modifier de manière permanente des dispositions d’actes législatifs (pt 79).

Pour la seconde critique, la Cour note d’abord que l’article 78 TFUE garde le silence sur la nature des « mesures provisoires » qu’il mentionne, sans qu’on puisse les réduire de manière restrictive. Elles doivent au contraire « revêtir une portée suffisamment large afin de permettre aux institutions de l’Union de prendre toutes les mesures provisoires nécessaires pour répondre de manière effective et rapide à une situation d’urgence caractérisée par un afflux soudain de ressortissants de pays tiers » (pt 77). Elle souligne aussi que le traité ne mentionne plus à leur sujet de limitation temporelle, à l’inverse de l’ancien article 64 TCE, et que la marge d’appréciation reconnue au Conseil durant cette période de 2 ans se justifie par le caractère « inédit et complexe » de l’opération.

Il en découle une série de jugements de valeur sur le choix technique et politique opéré par les institutions de l’Union.

D’abord, puisque leur objectif était de soulager deux Etats membres face à une situation d’urgence qu’ils étaient incapables d’affronter seuls, on ne saurait considérer que « le mécanisme de relocalisation d’un nombre important de demandeurs ayant manifestement besoin d’une protection internationale que prévoit la décision attaquée est une mesure qui serait manifestement impropre à contribuer à cet objectif » (pt 213). D’autant qu’il est accompagné par tout un dispositif de mesures complémentaires mais qui n’étaient pas suffisantes par elles-mêmes. Et peu importe en l’espèce que les déficiences structurelles des Etats sous pression n’aient pas été comblées dans les temps : « tout régime d’asile, même un régime ne connaissant pas de faiblesses structurelles en termes d’accueil et de capacité de traitement des demandes de protection internationale, aurait été gravement perturbé par l’afflux sans précédent de migrants qui a eu lieu en Grèce et en Italie au cours de l’année 2015 » (pt 214).

Ensuite, ce mécanisme s’inscrit dans un esprit de « système » clairement valorisé par la Cour et ce n’est pas le moindre des intérêts de l’arrêt rendu que d’insister sur cette cohérence. Non seulement la décision de relocalisation se contente de déroger au « système objectif » de Dublin auquel elle ne se substitue pas (pt 332) mais elle s’y inscrit pleinement. Pour la Cour, « bien au contraire, ces deux systèmes ne diffèrent, en définitive, pas substantiellement l’un de l’autre, en ce sens que le système institué par la décision attaquée repose, comme le système institué par le règlement Dublin III, sur des critères objectifs » (pt 333).

Enfin, la constance de sa jurisprudence ne se dément pas : la Cour s’inscrit délibérément dans la logique de la sauvegarde du système de « Dublin » et elle choisit de s’enferrer avec l’Union dans la défense d’une règlementation dont tout démontre, à sa quatrième version (!!!), qu’elle ne fonctionne pas…

b. une mesure justifiée par le principe de solidarité

La véritable réponse que l’on attendait de la Cour était celle relative à l’existence ou non d’une solidarité au sein de l’Union, autre que de façade. L’interrogation allait au delà du simple fait de savoir si choisir un mécanisme de relocalisation était ou non proportionné à la situation, en particulier au vu de son faible taux d’application deux ans après (COM (2017) 465), défaut d’enthousiasme malicieusement souligné d’ailleurs par les requérants. Malgré l’allusion qu’elle contient à la solidarité, la directive 2001/55 « protection temporaire » qui aurait pu faire office d’alternative pêche par le fait qu’elle dépend du bon vouloir des Etats membres. Exhortation politique ou obligation juridique, la portée du principe de solidarité dont l’article 80 TFUE dispose qu’il « régit » la politique d’asile, réclamait d’être enfin précisée.

La Cour ne se défausse pas sur ce terrain même si elle ne juge pas utile de lui consacrer la place qu’il mérite, sous par exemple la forme d’un considérant de principe. Au centre de la polémique, la solidarité et les formes qu’elles empruntent dans la politique d’asile de l’Union auraient sans doute mérité mieux. On se contentera donc du rappel bienvenu d’Yves Bot mettant « l’accent sur l’importance de la solidarité en tant que valeur fondatrice et existentielle de l’Union », persuadés avec lui que « nous touchons là à la quintessence de ce qui constitue à la fois la raison d’être et l’objectif du projet européen » (concl. précitées, pts 17 et 18).

D’emblée, la Cour prévient et cadre l’étendue de son contrôle au regard du principe de proportionnalité, dans des « observations liminaires » exprimant sa prudence : au vu du large pouvoir d’appréciation concédé aux institutions pour arrêter des décisions éminemment complexes et politiques, elle ne saurait aller au delà du contrôle d’une erreur manifeste d’appréciation. Seul, le « caractère manifestement inapproprié d’une mesure arrêtée dans un de ces domaines  » (pt 207) est susceptible d’affecter sa légalité, a fortiori face à une crise appelant une réponse immédiate, comme en l’espèce.

Dès lors, elle ne saurait censurer que dans le cas où il « est constaté que, lorsqu’il a arrêté la décision attaquée, le Conseil a, à la lumière des informations et des données disponibles à ce moment, commis une erreur manifeste d’appréciation, en ce sens qu’une autre mesure moins contraignante, mais tout aussi efficace, aurait pu être prise dans les mêmes délais » (pt 236). La Cour va donc opérer son contrôle au regard des faits et de la portée de la décision de relocalisation. Elle en conclut que le Conseil a pu « estimer à bon droit, dans le cadre de la large marge d’appréciation qui doit lui être reconnue à cet égard, que le caractère contraignant de la répartition des personnes relocalisées s’imposait au vu de la situation d’urgence particulière dans laquelle la décision attaquée devait être adoptée » (pt 246). A cet égard, l’échec des négociations d’une répartition par consensus conforte évidemment l’opinion selon laquelle il n’existait pas d’autre échappatoire qu’un mécanisme contraignant.

Le principe de solidarité est alors instrumentalisé par la Cour au détriment d’une proclamation solennelle que l’on espérait.

La Cour de justice aurait pu faire le choix d’une approche frontale, à l’image de celle de son avocat général, pour délivrer l’une des incises prétoriennes dont elle a le secret, consistant à reconnaître ostensiblement toute sa force juridique au principe formulé par l’article 80 TFUE. Elle préfère biaiser, utilisant sa traque d’une erreur manifeste d’appréciation pour parvenir à un résultat identique. En se penchant sur les motivations exprimées par le Conseil, elle constate que ce dernier « a considéré qu’il était essentiel de faire preuve de solidarité ». Coïncidence heureuse, il y « était effectivement tenu » en vertu de l’article 80 TFUE et des principes de solidarité et de partage équitable que ce dernier formule (pt 252) !!!

Bien évidemment, se plier à la satisfaction d’une obligation juridique en adoptant la décision de relocalisation face à l’urgence spécifique de la situation ne saurait constituer une erreur manifeste d’appréciation. D’autant que le Conseil a décidé de ce mécanisme contraignant en se fondant sur l’article 78 TFUE, « lu à la lumière » du principe de solidarité consacré par l’article 80 TFUE. Le caractère obligatoire du principe de solidarité au sein des politiques migratoires de l’UE est donc clairement posé et c’est un apport majeur de l’arrêt, mettant fin aux polémiques.

Restait à en dessiner les contours sinon le contenu précis, ce que la Cour va faire de manière impressionniste. Elle écarte d’abord d’un trait comme étant insuffisantes l’hypothèse de l’existence de mesures alternatives à la relocalisation avant de se pencher de façon plus symptomatique sur l’argumentaire de la Hongrie.

L’aplomb des autorités hongroises méritait en effet une réponse. Ayant refusé d’être bénéficiaires des mesures de relocalisation dont elles contestaient le principe par lui-même, elles n’en réclamaient pas moins d’être exemptées de leur obligation d’accueil. De leur point de vue, imposer à la Hongrie des contingents de réfugiés alors qu’elle avait elle-même besoin d’aide était à contraire à l’article 78 §3 TFUE, cette disposition jouant au profit des États membres confrontés à un afflux soudain de ressortissants de pays tiers.

La genèse de la décision attaquée permet alors à la Cour, en écartant le moyen, de donner quelques indications quant à la portée concrète de la solidarité. L’obligation de relocaliser ayant un impact sur tous les Etats exige que soit assuré « un équilibre entre les différents intérêts en présence, compte tenu des objectifs poursuivis par cette décision ». Or, lorsqu’un ou plusieurs États membres se trouvent dans une situation d’urgence, au sens de l’article 78 §3 TFUE, « les charges que comportent les mesures provisoires adoptées en vertu de cette disposition au profit de ce ou ces États membres doivent, en principe, être réparties entre tous les autres États membres, conformément au principe de solidarité et de partage équitable des responsabilités entre les États membres » (pt 291). Qualifiée comme un « élément fondamental » de la décision attaquée, cette donnée du principe de solidarité est donc un apport important : la solidarité ne peut être morcelée ou fractionnée. Sauf mécanisme d’ajustement contenu par ailleurs dans la décision et appliqué à d’autres Etats comme l’Autriche ou la Suède avec l’aval de la Cour.

Au total donc, l’arrêt de la Cour en avalisant le courage politique de quelques acteurs de l’Union permet de donner un sens à la solidarité actée par le traité.

Théorique, certes. La communication précitée (COM (2017) 465), publiée par la Commission le jour du prononcé de l’arrêt et à quelques semaines de l’expiration du programme fait ainsi valoir qu’au 4 septembre 2017, seulement  27 695 personnes avaient été relocalisées (19 244 depuis la Grèce et 8 451 depuis l’Italie), les bons élèves (Malte et la Lettonie) ayant rempli leur quota tranchant par leur vertu avec l’obstination de la République tchèque, de la Hongrie et de la Pologne à manquer à leurs obligations juridiques…

II – Faute de témérité, de l’approche biaisée des valeurs de l’Union

L’opportunité se présentait à la Cour, devant l’exemplarité du cas d’espèce, de prononcer un arrêt de principe. Indiquer le terrain sur lequel se situer en matière d’asile et les limites à ne pas franchir aurait été bienvenu. Le spectacle honteux des murs se dressant au fur et à mesure de l’avancée des colonnes de réfugiés en Europe centrale, les brutalités policières de certains Etats membres allant parfois jusqu’à la menace d’emploi d’armes à feu, les déclarations à l’emporte-pièce des responsables politiques face au paroxysme de la crise fournissaient une trame à un rappel de l’essentiel, à l’expression du fondamental.

Sans pouvoir jouer de l’ironie du président de la Commission félicitant Victor Orban de sa prise de conscience des bienfaits de la solidarité lors de sa demande de financement d’un mur anti-migrants, la Cour avait au moins la possibilité de clarifier ici les données et de guider les consciences. Elle ne l’a pas retenue.

a. l’impasse sur les valeurs de l’Union  

Offerte sur un plateau par un argumentaire de la Pologne dont on a peine à imaginer qu’il puisse trouver place dans le prétoire de Luxembourg, l’occasion était idéale pour la Cour de se placer au niveau de conscience des conclusions de son avocat général. Ces dernières mettaient d’emblée l’accent sur les valeurs fondant l’action de l’Union, qui doit en assurer la garantie, cadrant ainsi le débat contentieux pour ce qu’il est : une question de principe. L’économie d’un rappel de la Cour sur ce point déçoit par sa pusillanimité et elle fait douter de sa compréhension réelle des enjeux.

Placé entre guillemets par la Cour elle-même, presqu’avec des pincettes, l’argument sidère : des Etats « presque ethniquement homogènes comme la Pologne » (pt 301) ne sauraient accueillir des migrants relocalisés sur leur territoire car leur population en diffère culturellement et linguistiquement. Outre le fait que c’est le propre d’une politique d’asile et d’immigration (souverainement acceptée par l’Etat polonais lors de son adhésion aux traités de l’Union) que d’impliquer des différences humaines de cette nature, l‘argument de « l’homogénéité ethnique » nationale n’est pas acceptable et ses relents sont scandaleux.

La Cour préfère le registre rationnel en soulignant que la prise en compte de cette différence rendrait impossible de facto toute relocalisation : si elle « devait être strictement conditionnée par l’existence de liens culturels ou linguistiques entre chaque demandeur de protection internationale et l’État membre de relocalisation, il en découlerait qu’une répartition de ces demandeurs entre tous les États membres … et, partant, l’adoption d’un mécanisme de relocalisation contraignant, seraient impossibles » (pt .304). Evidemment.

Cela va de soi mais ce qui aurait été mieux en le disant est surtout qu’un argument de cette nature transgresse évidemment les valeurs de l’Union telles que proclamées par l’article 2 TUE. Dignité, pluralisme, non discrimination y figurent, entre autres… A l’instant où, pour sa conception particulière de l’institution judiciaire, la Pologne est menacée des foudres de l’article 7 TUE qui sanctionne la violation grave de ces valeurs, était-il déraisonnable ou contradictoire de s’opposer fortement à la revendication étatique d’une société « presqu’ethniquement homogène » ? Etait-il déplacé de refuser fortement de se faire l’écho des multiples déclarations publiques nationales écartant l’accueil des demandeurs de protection pour des raisons religieuses ou raciales ?

Benoitement, la Cour préfère l’approche désincarnée, celle qui met en avant l’article 21 de la Charte des droits fondamentaux et le principe de non discrimination pour estimer que « des considérations liées à l’origine ethnique des demandeurs de protection internationale ne peuvent pas être prises en compte en ce qu’elles seraient, de toute évidence, contraires au droit de l’Union et notamment à l’article 21 de la charte des droits fondamentaux de l’Union européenne » (pt 305). Dans le « de toute évidence », se dissimule sans doute la désapprobation du juge de l’Union …

Ce manque de courage est, en fait, un manque de lucidité. Ainsi, comment le juge suprême de l’Union peut-il marteler dans sa jurisprudence à destination des juges nationaux l’existence de cette « prémisse fondamentale » qu’est la « confiance mutuelle » entre les Etats membres sans, de temps à autres, parler le langage des valeurs et des droits fondamentaux et adresser aux sociétés nationales les signes de l’attention effective qu’il y porte ? S’y dérober affecte la crédibilité et donc la solidité de l’édifice, à court terme.

b. l’objectivation du droit des réfugiés

Un regret du même ordre accompagne les développements de la Cour relatifs au droit des réfugiés. Utiles et bienvenus, ces développements ne contiennent pas une once d’attention personnalisée pour les victimes qui en sont l’objet, pas un mot de compassion pour leur misère.

Avec un sens de l’humour qui peut dépasser l’observateur, les Etats requérants s’inquiétaient pourtant ouvertement des atteintes aux droits fondamentaux organisées par la décision attaquée. Le droit de rester dans l’Etat membre d’accueil était ainsi mis en avant par la Hongrie tandis que la Pologne en appelait, elle « aux standards de la protection des droits de l’Homme » y compris en se préoccupant des liens culturels et sociaux conditionnant leur intégration dans la société de l’Etat membre d’accueil…

La Cour écarte alors, très justement, toute accusation d’arbitraire se substituant au système objectif institué par le règlement « Dublin ». Valorisant à juste titre les critères retenus par la décision de relocalisation, liés à l’intérêt supérieur de l’enfant et aux liens familiaux, culturels ou sociaux, elle délivre deux enseignements majeurs.

Le premier confirme la priorité qui demeure la sienne, perceptible dans l’ensemble de sa jurisprudence relative à « Dublin » : faire en sorte que le régime commun d’asile fonctionne de manière effective. La lecture qu’elle en fait donne alors logiquement la préséance à une approche objective et non pas subjective.

Aussi, elle note sans difficulté que l’absence de possibilité pour les demandeurs de choisir l’État membre responsable de l’examen de leur demande exprime invariablement la même règle que le système « Dublin » : il n’existe pas de possibilité de choisir sa destination au profit des demandeurs de protection et d’exprimer sa préférence. Ce qui justifie qu’ils doivent disposer d’un droit de recours effectif contre la décision de relocalisation aux fins du respect de leurs droits fondamentaux. La raison en est objectivement exprimée par la Cour : « l’objectif de cette décision… est de soulager les régimes d’asile grec et italien d’un nombre important de demandeurs en les relocalisant, dans de brefs délais et de manière effective, vers d’autres États membres dans le respect du droit de l’Union et, en particulier, des droits fondamentaux garantis par la Charte » (pt 337).

Le second enseignement est un rappel. A la Hongrie qui avançait que la convention de Genève « comporterait un droit de rester dans l’État du dépôt de la demande tant que celle-ci est pendante », elle répète l’état du droit positif, souvent ignoré. L’examen obligé de la demande de protection est « une expression particulière du principe de non-refoulement qui interdit qu’un demandeur de protection internationale soit expulsé vers un État tiers tant qu’il n’a pas été statué sur sa demande » (pt 341). Ce qui est parfaitement exact.

Parce que le transfert d’un demandeur vers un autre Etat membre dans le cadre d’une opération de relocalisation afin d’examiner sa demande « ne saurait être constitutif d’un refoulement vers un Etat tiers », le moyen ne saurait prospérer. On est ici en face « d’une mesure de gestion de crise, prise au niveau de l’Union, visant à assurer l’exercice effectif, dans le respect de la convention de Genève, du droit fondamental d’asile, tel que consacré à l’article 18 de la Charte » (pt 343).

Au total, la Cour s’inscrit donc ici dans le fil de sa jurisprudence ordinaire tenant à la fois aux questions normatives et au fond du droit de l’asile. Dans un climat de tensions et un contexte politique européen détestable, elle ne souhaite visiblement pas dépasser les limites qu’elle s’est fixée : ni participer à ce débat, ni en être l’objet.

Parliamentary Tracker : Establishing an EU migrants resettlement framework

by Luigi LIMONE (FREE Group trainee)

Background

Yesterday, the European Commission and the High Representative, Federica Mogherini, have diffused the 5th Report on the progress made under the Partnership Framework on Migration and implementation of measures to address the situation along the Central Mediterranean Route, in line with the Action Plan on measures to support Italy.

The Partnership Framework on Migration was launched in June 2016 to step up as a priority cooperation with countries of origin and transit in Africa. Measures taken are aimed at saving lives along the migratory routes, increase protection of migrants and refugees, enhance resilience of host communities, address root causes of migration and open up legal ways to Europe for those in need, in particular with more resettlements for refugees.

A legislative proposal regarding the establishment of an EU resettlement framework is currently under discussion.

Towards an EU law on resettlement

Together with relocation, resettlement is recognised by the Council of the European Union as one of the three dimensions of the EU efforts to address the increasing migratory flows. The two others are return, readmission and reintegration of irregular migrants and cooperation with countries of origin and transit to tackle the root causes of migration. During the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting dating back to 20 July 2015, the EU Member States already adopted conclusion on resettling through multilateral and national schemes 22504 displaced persons from outside the EU who are in clear need of international protection.

On 13 July 2016 the European Commission launched a proposal for a EU Resettlement Framework to establish a common European policy on resettlement with the aim of ensuring orderly and safe pathways to Europe for persons in need of international protection. Such a proposal is part of the Commission reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and the long-term policy on better migration management set out by the European Agenda on Migration.

The proposal is intended to provide for a permanent framework with common standard  procedures for resettlement across the EU and should complement current national and multilateral resettlement initiatives, by providing common EU rules on the admission of third-country nationals, procedures in the resettlement process, types of status to be accorded by Member States, decision-making procedures for implementation of the framework and financial support for Member States’ resettlement efforts. According to Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, the proposal represents “an integral part of the larger objective of ensuring that protection is offered to those who need it, reducing the incentives for irregular migration and protecting migrants from exploitation by smuggling networks and dangerous journeys to reach Europe”.

The Commission proposal widens the resettlement categories established by the UNHCR, by including persons with socio-economic vulnerability, persons with family links to third-country nationals, stateless persons or Union citizens legally resident in a Member State. Such a new framework will allow for two types of standard resettlement procedures: ordinary and expedited. Under the ordinary procedure, Member States will identify third-country nationals or stateless persons in a third country and assess whether they fall within the scope of a targeted resettlement scheme. With a positive decision, they can grant those persons refugee status or subsidiary protection status.

The expedited procedure is used in case of specific humanitarian grounds or urgent legal or physical protection needs, which justify rapid admission of third-country nationals or stateless persons to the territory of a Member State. The persons are granted subsidiary protection status and should be able to apply for international protection once admitted to a Member State. Member States will be entitled to €10 000 from the EU budget for each person they resettle. Nevertheless, they will only receive these funds when resettling through the Union Resettlement Framework. Resettlements under national schemes will not be supported financially by the EU budget.

The Commission proposal does not provide for a distribution key. Member States are given the possibility to decide how many persons they will resettle each year. Furthermore, it does not specify the scale of resettlement and the regions or third countries from which resettlement will take place, but it indicates that preference will be given to third countries which cooperate effectively with the EU in the field of migration and asylum, notably a third country’s efforts to reduce the number of irregular migrants coming to the EU from its territory, their cooperation on return and readmission and their capacity build-up for reception and protection. The proposal also includes grounds for exclusion of third-country nationals or stateless persons from the resettlement scheme, including those who have irregularly stayed, irregularly entered or attempted to irregularly enter the territory of the Member States during the five years prior to resettlement.

The proposal falls under the ordinary legislative procedure. In the European Parliament, it was assigned to the LIBE Committee under the rapporteurship of Malin Björk (GUE/NGL – Sweden). The draft report was presented before the LIBE Committee on 12 April 2017.

According to the draft report, resettlement should be recognised as complementary to other legal and safe routes to international protection, such as humanitarian visas, extended family reunification and humanitarian admission programmes. The EU resettlement framework should also complement other international structures for resettlement and build upon the work of the UNHCR, as well as support Member States’ national resettlement programmes. The draft report also provides that the EU resettlement framework should not depend on third countries’ cooperation on migration but should instead be based on humanitarian needs, contribute to global resettlement needs and serve as a protection tool.

As regards concrete numbers, the EU Member States host 8 % of the world’s refugees, which, according to the rapporteur, is few compared to other developed countries and not enough to reduce the burden on developing countries. The rapporteur therefore suggests that the EU framework should target the resettling of at least 25 % of the annual projected global resettlement needs as defined by the UNHCR. With regard to resettlement as a durable solution, the draft report suggests Member States should provide resettled persons with residence permits of permanent or unlimited validity, on terms that are more favourable than provided for in the current legislation.

After the presentation of the draft report, the shadow rapporteurs expressed the position of their political parties as well.

According to Agustín Díaz de Mera García Consuegra (shadow rapporteur for the EPP – Spain), a clear distinction between relocation and resettlement should be included in the report to prevent from confusion and overlapping definitions. In his opinion, it is very important that the EU commitment is fully supported by the civil society and the private sector and Member States should be encouraged to implement their resettlement programs through a number of incentives.

Birgit Sippel (S&D – Germany) talked on behalf of Katy Piri (shadow rapporteur for the S&D – the Netherlands). According to her, resettlement is the only way possible to help people in need and prevent them from entering through illegal channels or smuggling networks. This fully reflects the EU humanitarian approach, which is intended to grant protection to people fleeing war and persecution through legal and safe pathways.

Helga Stevens (shadow rapporteur for the ECR – Belgium) said that the ECR group was going to present a huge number of amendments. She believes, however, that constructive consultations are possible and that the shadow meetings should focus on existing resources in order to think about a resettlement framework in a more practical way.

Cecilia Wikström (ALDE – Sweden) talked on behalf of Louis Michel (shadow rapporteur for the ALDE, Belgium). According to her, the European Parliament should work in a constructive way to create a mechanism based on equal sharing of responsibilities between Member States, with the aim of increasing the number of legal entry avenues for people in need of international protection.

According to Ignazio Corrao (shadow rapporteur for the EFDD – Italy), resettlement is a fundamental humanitarian tool to manage migration flows and the EU should reinforce its cooperation with third countries and work on practical numbers to understand the real proportion of this challenge. In his opinion, resettlement can be used to promote family reunification, but only as an element of last resort when family reunification channels cannot be applied.

The proposal on the EU resettlement framework was presented by the Commission at the meeting of the Asylum Working Party of the Council on 29 September 2016. On that occasion, a first exchange of views took place and serious concerns were raised on certain issues such as the mandatory character of resettlement schemes, the legal basis of the proposed act and the inclusion of internally displaced people (IDPs) among the categories that could benefit from resettlement. The Asylum Working Party finalised a first detailed article-by-article examination of the proposal on 17 January 2017. A second round of examination took place on 2 March 2017 and additional concerns were expressed with respect to the definition of resettlement and the possibility to include other forms of humanitarian admission, the admissibility criteria as well as the procedure that will be used for resettlement. Some delegations also voiced concerns regarding the Commission’s right to adopt delegated acts to complement some elements of the procedure.

Civil society organisations and international actors have expressed their support to the establishment of a framework for a structured and coordinated approach to resettlement within the EU, since they believe that such a framework can ensure greater participation and commitment towards resettlement from Member States and allow the EU to contribute more meaningfully towards global resettlement. However, they have raised serious concerns with respect to key aspects of the proposal. These concerns relate primarily to the way resettlement may be instrumentalised to encourage countries to cooperate on migration control and deterrence of irregular arrivals, but also to eligibility and exclusion criteria which potentially exclude many categories of refugees in need of resettlement, including vulnerable cases and those with no other solution in sight.

According to the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), the fact that the proposal makes clear reference to the Partnership Framework risks making resettlement “a partnership activity” instead of a humanitarian programme that provides durable solutions for the most vulnerable. Inspired by the EU-Turkey deal that offers resettlement as a quid pro quo, the resettlement framework risks instrumentalising resettlement to exert leverage on partner countries. Amnesty International has strongly objected to resettlement becoming instrumental to the objective of migration deterrence and returns as well. The NGO is also concerned that the proposal would entrench EU-wide ineligibility criteria which aim to discourage irregular movement to and within the EU, since it is based on definitions and unfair grounds for exclusion

The Visegrad Four countries – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – have made no secret that they are trying to oppose the new relocation and resettlement schemes and put forward by the European Commission. Although the Visegrad countries have different position on the refugee crisis and there is political position among them, with Poland and Hungary being more resistant and the Czech Republic and Slovakia more open to the Commission proposal, all four countries argue that asylum seekers are not interested in long-term stays in Central or Eastern Europe and would seek to move to wealthier EU Member States. They challenge the new asylum policy and in particular the replacement of the defunct Dublin system and the quota system on migrant resettlement and relocation, claiming that the such reforms violate their national sovereignty.

With the need to reinstate a genuine mutual trust among Member States as a precondition for finding a shared solutions to the relocation impasse and to the migration challenge, an intra EU convergence on relocation and resettlement is crucial. Faced with the Visegrad countries’ resistance to relocation and resettlement schemes, the European Commission should definitely   decide to proceed with the adoption of a clearer “carrot and stick” approach: if Member States want to enjoy the benefits of the Schengen system, they also need to accept the responsibilities of formulating a common migration and asylum policy.