Reform Treaty involves no extension of EU law in relation to fundamental
Speaking to the Irish Society for European Law this evening (4 March), Minister for European Affairs Dick Roche, TD, said the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which will be given legal force by the Lisbon Reform Treaty, “does not extend the field of application of Union law or establish any new power or task for the Union”.
The Minister noted that the recognition of the Charter was
nevertheless “a significant development for the Union, as it sets
out, in a consolidated form, those rights that citizens already
- the EU Treaties and related case law;
- the European Convention on Human Rights;
- the Social Charters of the Union and the Council of Europe; and
- the constitutional traditions and international obligations common to the Member States.”
Minister Roche added that the Charter “makes clear that its provisions ‘are addressed to the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union, with due regard for the principle of subsidiarity, and to the Member States only when they are implementing Union law’. Accordingly, existing [European] Court of Justice jurisprudence, whereby the Court refuses to look at matters falling within the exclusive competence of the Member States, will be retained. This means that, where purely domestic legal matters are concerned, the Court of Justice may not deal with fundamental rights issues that may arise.”
On the right to life of the unborn, the Minister stated that “the Treaty carries forward unchanged (save for minor technical amendments) the terms of the Protocol on Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution originally adopted with the Maastricht Treaty. The Protocol confirms that nothing in the Treaties shall affect the application in Ireland of Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution of Ireland.”
Minister Roche also addressed changes in the Justice and Home Affairs area, observing that “the Union’s competence in the area of freedom, security and justice is shared with the Member States. The different legal systems and traditions of the Member States are respected. The responsibilities of the Member States for the maintenance of law and order and internal security are of course unaffected by the Reform Treaty.”
Minister Roche concluded that “Ireland’s experience of EU membership has been wholly positive. It is certainly not time for Ireland to show any hesitancy in our commitment to the Union. To do so would send damaging signals to our neighbours and partners. We should continue to engage in Europe, to shape the policies of Union in the interests of ourselves and the wider world. To do so we need to ratify the Reform Treaty. Failure to ratify is likely to be damaging – to Europe and to Ireland.”
Background note for editors
The Irish Society for European Law was established in 1973 as an association of practising and academic lawyers with the object of promoting the study and practice of European Law in Ireland. It pursues this objective through
- the organisation of public lectures and workshops on topics of current interest relating to the law of the European Union and European Human Rights law;
- the publication of the Irish Journal of European Law;
- the preparation and dissemination of papers for the Federation Internationale de Droit Europeen (FIDE), of which the Society is the Irish affiliated member.
Membership is open to individual lawyers of all nationalities and indeed to anyone interested in European Law.
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