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The Charter of Fundamental Rights: Alive and kicking
Date 02/03/2011 15:06  Author webmaster  Hits 1024  Language Global

02 MAR 2011

Open Europe Blog

Today’s ECJ ruling on insurance premiums, which will mean insurers can no longer offer different products and prices to men and women based on their sex from December 2012 (since that constitutes discrimination in the ECJ's eyes), has thrown up an interesting discussion about the Lisbon’s Treaty Charter of Fundamental Rights. It has passed under the radar of the media, which understandably have focused on the consumer angle.

The discussion on the Charter could appear boring but it’s actually very important.

This is because the UK negotiated a protocol on the Charter when the Lisbon Treaty was agreed, amid concerns that the Charter would take on a life of its own and impact on British rights legislation in ways that were deemed disproportionate or detrimental, either directly or indirectly. In fact, the protocol was one of the reasons cited by the previous government in support of not giving people a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

The Protocol states that the Charter “does not extend” the ability of the ECJ to find that UK law is inconsistent with the rights and principles elucidated in the Charter. Originally, the UK Government claimed to have an ‘opt-out’ from the Charter, but this was never accurate. Indeed then Europe Minister Jim Murphy eventually admitted: “It is clear that the UK does not have an opt-out on the Charter of Fundamental Rights.”

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