Select Committee on European Communities Third Report

APPENDIX 2 (Continued)


Human Rights and Citizenship

...Article 230 of the European Community Treaty already requires the Community to "establish all appropriate forms of co-operation with the Council of Europe", and this provision could usefully be expanded, for example to ensure that work under the Justice and Home Affairs pillar takes full account of what has or is being done within the framework of the Council of Europe.(284)

Another proposal which has been examined and discussed for many years is that the European Communities should accede to the European Convention on Human Rights. The Select Committee have carried out two enquiries into the suggestion, in 1980 and again in 1992.[14] ...It would not be appropriate at present to reconsider the views we expressed three years ago.(285)

...There should be a formal treaty commitment against racial discrimination which should form the legal base for binding Council legislation on racism...(286)

...Third country nationals who had resided lawfully within the European Community for a period of ten years should be granted the rights of free movement and access to employment as are now given by the Treaties and by Community legislation to nationals of the Member States.[15](287)

We would not favour even limited harmonisation of the nationality laws of Member States...(288)


Human Rights and Citizenship

Article 8 of the TEU is amended to make it clear that citizenship of the Union shall complement and not replace national citizenship.

The Treaty strengthens the Union's commitment to fundamental human rights. The amended Article F states that "the Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law..."

The Treaty includes a new Article Fa which introduces a procedure for determining instances of a serious and persistent breach of the fundamental principles referred to in Article F, and allows for a partial suspension of the rights of a Member State found to be in breach of these principles. The assent of the European Parliament will be required.

The Union is committed to respecting the European Convention on Human Rights, by Article F(2) of the Treaty, which remains unchanged from the Maastricht Treaty and states "the Union shall respect fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms signed in Rome of 4 November 1950 and as they result from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, as general principles of Community law." By Article L of the Treaty of Amsterdam the Court of Justice is given jurisdiction over Article F(2) "with regard to action of the institutions."

New Article 6a inserted by the Amsterdam Treaty allows the Council, acting unanimously on a proposal from the Commission and after consulting the European Parliament, to take "appropriate action to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation."

No proposal along these lines is made in the Amsterdam Treaty, although the Council, under the terms of Article C, must adopt, within a period of five years after the entry into force of the Treaty, "measures defining the rights and conditions under which nationals of third countries who are legally resident in a Member State may reside in other states".

No proposal is made for harmonisation of the nationality laws of the Member States.

14   Human Rights, 71st Report, 1979-80, HL 362; and Human Rights Re-examined, 3rd Report, 1992-93, HL Paper 10. In the later Report, the Committee concluded that although some of the legal difficulties had diminished, in view of the limited benefits to the individual and the institutional difficulties, they did not favour Community accession to the Convention. Back

15   Paragraphs 74 and 86. Back

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Prepared 24 July 1997