European Parliamentarians welcomes the EU's accession to the ECHR
By Stian Oby Johansen, Research Assistant, MultiRights
As noted by Antoine Buyse over at the ECHR blog, the parliamentarians of Europe recently welcomed the decision by the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers1 to resume the negotiations on the European Union’s accession to the ECHR. The most interesting parts of the press release from the joint informal body2 of members of the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) reads as follows:3
“A joint informal body of members of the European Parliament and Council of Europe parliamentarians has welcomed the prospect of talks resuming on EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
The two co-chairs of the Joint Informal Body, Pietro Marcenaro and Carlo Casini, said it was “of the utmost importance” that these negotiations reach a speedy conclusion and that the momentum towards an agreement is not lost.
‘EU accession to the ECHR is crucial with a view to securing a common space for human rights protection across the European continent,’ they said. ‘It is thus essential that the modalities of such accession are completed at a political level as rapidly as possible, and that all outstanding questions are settled.’”
This statement from the two parliaments is important, in both a political and legal sense. The “consent” of the European Parliament is a necessary condition under EU law for the Union’s ratification of a final agreement on its accession to the ECHR.4
Moreover, a document annexed to the press release reveals that the two parliaments have come to an agreement on the participation of the European Parliament in PACE meetings when the latter “exercises its functions related to the election of judges to the European Court of Human Rights under Article 22 of the Convention”.5 The arrangements made in this regard must now be approved by the PACE and the European Parliament “in accordance with their respective procedures”.6 Those interested may find further details in the above-mentioned document.
 For a comment on the decision of the Committee of Ministers, see our previous blog post on the subject: Stian Øby Johansen, ‘Negotiations on the EU's Accession to the ECHR to be finalized "without delay"’ (MultiRights blog 15 June 2012) <http://jus.uio.no/pluricourts/english/blog/stian-oby-johansen/negotiations-on-the-eus-accession-to-the-echr-to-be-finalized-without-delay.html> accessed 21 June 2012.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and the European Parliament established this Joint Informal Body upon the initiative of the European Parliament “in order to coordinate information sharing”: see § 34 of EP Resolution of 19 May 2010 on the institutional aspects of the accession of the EU to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) (2009/2241 (INI)).
 The press release, titled ‘EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights: ‘the momentum must not be lost’ says joint parliamentary body’ and dated 19 June 2012 is available at <http://assembly.coe.int/ASP/NewsManager/EMB_NewsManagerView.asp?ID=7761&L=2> accessed 21 June 2012.
 See the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) article 218(6)(a)(ii).
 Joint informal body of the PACE and the European Parliament, ‘Synopsis of the meeting held in Paris on 15 June 2011’ <http://assembly.coe.int/committee/BUR/2011/BURJointInformalBodyE.pdf> accessed 21 June 2012.