19th June 2012: This week it is 'the Committees' at the European Parliament in Brussels and yesterday afternoon Andrew Brons made the following contribution to a debate in the Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) on The European Union becoming a signatory to the Council of Europe's European Convention of Human Rights*
"A question that people from all political positions ask (this is not confined to critics of the EU) is:
"What difference will the EU's accession to the Convention make, in view of the fact that all members of the EU are also members of the Council of Europe and therefore signatories, as individual states, to the Convention on Human Rights.
"One difference would appear to be that the Council of Europe's Convention on Human Rights will also become European Union law.
"This is not necessary because from 1950 until 2000 (when the Human Rights Act came into operation), the United Kingdom was a signatory to the Convention without it being United Kingdom law. However, I have been told that it WILL become EU law.
"This means that the Convention will be enforceable in member state courts when EU law is being considered and in the European Court of Justice.
"However, it will presumably be enforceable in the European Court of Human Rights in any case in which the validity of EU law or the rulings of the ECJ are called into question for being at variance with the Convention."
* The Council of Europe is a body that is quite distinct from the European Union and predates it by eight years. The Lisbon Treaty, implemented in 2009, provided that the European Union must become a member of the Council of Europe and become a signatory to its Convention on Human Rights. I have asked on several occasions what the effect of this will be but I have never received a clear and satisfactory answer.