19th April 2012

Britain's Conservative MEPs have today taken a firm stance against EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights.

They voiced a series of key concerns over the accession proposal when the issue was debated today (Thursday) in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.


The MEPs urged the coalition Government in London to take the same position.


The EU is supposed to join the convention under the terms of the Lisbon Treaty, which was signed for the UK by Labour.


However Ashley Fox, Conservative spokesman on constitutional affairs in the Parliament, said: "Individual member states already reflect the content of the convention in their domestic law and are subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg - so it is hard to see how EU accession will bring any better protection of human rights.


"There are a number of problems with the specifics of the accession proposals - for example the EU will get the power to veto future reform of the Strasbourg court and the right to appoint judges.


"Britain has an excellent record on human rights - but these proposals do nothing for human rights and everything to further the EU's ambitions to strut on the world stage"


He told MEPs: "I am proud that the United Kingdom was one of the founding members of the convention. It has noble aims and my group supports them. But we do not support the conduct of the European Court of Human Rights.


"Far too often the Court departs from its role to uphold fundamental rights and interferes with how democratic countries govern themselves.


"The recent decision to prevent the UK deporting Abu Qatada is one example. The demand of the Court that prisoners are given the right to vote is another.


"Judicial activism like this brings the court into disrepute.


"It must be reformed, with more cases dealt with at a national level and national courts given a greater margin of appreciation for making decisions.


"I would urge colleagues here, and in Westminster, to think again before granting the EU more influence that we will live to regret."

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