The negotiations on the EU’s accession to the ECHR have resumed

From 29 September to 1 October 2020 the so-called 47+1 Group, which consists of representatives of all Council of Europe Member States and the European Union, held their first formal negotiation meeting on the EU’s accession to the ECHR since the 2013 Draft Accession Agreement (DAA) was rejected by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Opinion 2/13. When it was handed down back in December 2014, I characterized Opinion 2/13 as a “direct and unequivocal attack on the accession agreement” by the CJEU. In the same post, I also predicted that it would be “very difficult to satisfy the CJEU’s objections by way of amending the accession [instruments]”.

The fact that it has taken almost six years for the negotiations to properly restart is a testament to these difficulties. At the same time, the resumption of the accession negotiations signals that the parties indeed believe that it is possible to satisfy or circumvent the CJEU’s objections in Opinion 2/13 – or, perhaps, that some of the objections no longer hold water.

The meeting report from the first renegotiation meeting – or the sixth negotiating meeting in CoE parlance, continuing the numbering from the previous round – has just been made available on the CoE website for the accession negotiations. Another key document is the “Paper by the Chair to steer the discussion at the 6th meeting of the CDDH ad hoc group (47+1)“, which was drafted to structure the negotiations. Finally, the EU Commission’s negotiating mandate – a heavily guarded document in the first round of negotiations – was leaked almost simultaneously with its approval in October 2019.

In this blog post, I analyze the meeting report, in light of the Chair’s paper, and take stock of the progress made so far.

A glimpse of the 6th 47+1 negotiation meeting
(Photo credit: Council of Europe)
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