Criminal Justice Co-operation in the EU: Lisbon, Stockholm and Ireland
The past two months have seen the coming into force of the Lisbon Treaty and agreement on the Stockholm Programme which sets out (amongst other matters) the EU’s priorities in the area of criminal justice co-operation for the coming years. The Programme is the latest in the area of freedom, security and justice and succeeds the Tampere Programme and the Hague Programme. It claims its focus is ‘on the interests and needs of citizens. The challenge will be to ensure respect for fundamental freedoms and integrity while guaranteeing security in Europe’ (p3 Stockholm Programme ‘SP’). The Stockholm Programme will be pursued on the basis of the new constitutional arrangements brought into place by the Lisbon Treaty. In particular, the Programme will benefit from the effective merging of the first and third pillars and the shift towards the ordinary legislative procedure in relation to most areas of Justice and Home Affairs. As such, EU law in this area will be adopted based on co-decision between the Parliament and the Council with the latter operating through qualified majority voting. These new developments are likely to lead to an increase in legislation in these areas as the Council and Commission vigorously pursue the Programme.
Given previous commentary on this blog here and by guest contributor Roderic O’Gorman here on the impact of the Lisbon Treaty on Irish law, the ISEL 7th Annual Brian Walsh Memorial Lecture may be of interest to readers.
ISEL 7thAnnual Brian Walsh Memorial Lecture
In conjunction with the Bar Council CPD Unit presents
“Constitutional Courts and the Lisbon Treaty”
Wednesday 25th November 2009 at 6.30pm
St.Michan’s Church Church Street, Dublin 7
Speaker: The Hon. Mrs. Justice Susan Denham, Supreme Court
Chair: The Hon. Mr. Justice Nial Fennelly, Supreme Court
The Hon. Mrs. Justice Susan Denham was educated at University of Dublin, Trinity College; King’s Inns and Columbia University, New York, U.S.A. She was called to the Bar in 1971 and became a Senior Counsel in 1987. Appointed a Judge of the High Court in 1991, and in December 1992 the first woman appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court. Judge Denham is a Bencher of the Honorable Society of King’s Inns, and an Honorary Bencher of the Middle Temple in London. Since 1995 she has been Pro-Chancellor of the University of Dublin.
The Hon. Mr. Justice Nial Fennelly practised at the Bar from 1964 to 1995. He was Chairman of the Bar Council of Ireland for the period 1990 to 1991. He was appointed Advocate General at the Court of Justice in 1995, where he served until 2000, when he was appointed to the Supreme Court. He is President of the Irish Society for European Law and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Academy of European Law at Trier.
The lecture will be followed by the launch of the new ISEL website (www.isel.ie) and a wine reception. There will also be a speakers’ dinner after the lecture, to which members of the ISEL are invited. To register for the dinner, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
This Public Lecture is open to all and is free of charge
Our colleagues William Schabas (ICHR) and Laurent Pech (NUI Galway) today post on human rights and the Lisbon Treaty on Schabas’ excellent PhD Studies in Human Rights Blog. There follows a taste from this tight and forcefully argued post, but it is well worth reading in full:
All Bills of Rights use broad language, and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights is no exception. It is in their nature. This is a valuable feature, because it enables them to be interpreted in an increasingly expansive manner over time, as attitudes and values evolve. Strangely, the broad language has been used by critics of the Lisbon treaty to concoct scenarios and interpretations that have more to do with fantasy than reality.
The Lisbon Treaty makes clear that the provisions of the Charter shall not extend in any way the powers of the EU as defined in the relevant treaties. The fact that certain Charter rights concern areas in which the EU has little or no competence (for example, the death penalty or the right to strike) to act is no contradiction. Although the powers of the EU are limited, it must avoid even indirect interference with all fundamental rights.
Fundamental rights guaranteed by national constitutions are merely complemented, not superseded by the Charter. The Charter will certainly apply to EU institutions. But it only applies to the Member States when they implement EU law. This is not reflective of some sinister centralist agenda but rather a salutary commitment from Brussels to respect fundamental rights in all aspects of its activities. How can this possibly be harmful? It strengthens our protections and fundamental guarantees.
We are very pleased to welcome this guest post from Roderic O’Gorman (left) on the implication of the Lisbon Treaty for workers’ rights. For information on Roderic, see his profile on the ‘Guest Contributors’ page. Although-as some readers may know-Roderic is an active member of the Green Party, this post is submitted strictly from a personal and academic perspective.
The protection of workers’ rights in the EU and the implications that the Lisbon Treaty will have for this is an issue that has received considerable attention over the course of the referendum campaign. Particular concern has been expressed around a number of judgments given by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over the past two years dealing with workers rights. Three of these cases – Laval, Ruffert and Commission v. Luxembourg concern the Posting of Workers Directive (PW Directive). This directive sets out the rules and conditions whereby a company in Member State A can send some of its employees to work in Member State B.
Nothing warms the cockles of my soft, liberal, anything-goes heart quite like watching US Republicans make buffoons of themselves in the eyes of the world by labelling any progress towards public options or universality in healthcare provisions as Stalinism by the back door. Their not-entirely-unsuccessful efforts to debase and distort all arguments about state regulation or welfare provisions with cries of “socialism” (perish the thought) or “communism” are a sure sign that the moral and philosophical arguments have been lost and all that is left is name-calling and ill-considered sobriquets. However, those of us who watch the US healthcare debate with both mirth and concern don’t need to look very far to see an Irish equivalent. The Irish Times unthinkingly repeats MEP Marian Harkin’s (left) assertion that the anti-Lisbon leaflets the UK Independence Party intends to send to all Irish homes attacking the Lisbon Treaty is “racist”.
Fine Gael’s Enterprise, Trade & Employment spokesman Leo Varadkar this morning has stated it will introduce legislation which recognises the rights of workers to engage in collective bargaining if elected to government. Every time Mr Varadkar speaks, I feel an unmistakable whiff of sulphur, but his argument takes the battle to the likes of Cóir who have been scare-mongering on the issue of the minimum wage which the Lisbon Treaty has no relation to. As he put it, “The Charter on Fundamental Rights enshrines in European law a number of protections for workers. These include the right to information and consultation, maternity leave and limits on working hours. All of these rights already apply in Ireland; only the right to collective bargaining does not. Fine Gael believes that this government and any future Fine Gael Government is honour bound to respect the Charter by enacting collective bargaining legislation.’
In a recent opinion piece in The Irish Times,Tony Kinsella remonstrated with the Anti-Lisbon campaigners regarding their stance on neutrality. While I would agree with his general premise that neutrality is not always the honorable option his argument is surely as flawed as those he seeks to condemn. In conflating the EU, World War II and neutrality Mr. Kinsella is ensuring that in the minds of the Irish populace, Ireland is or ever was legally a neutral country and that the EU threatens this stance.
In today’s Irish Times, the Tánaiste [Irish deputy prime minister] and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mary Coughlan (left) writes about the implications for workers rights of the Lisbon Treaty. As might be expected, the Tánaiste denies suggestions that a yes vote for Lisbon in next month’s constitutional referendum would do damage of any kind to workers’ rights. Indeed, she stresses that our membership of the European Union has in fact been a significant factor in driving minimum standards for workers upwards.