A joint informal body of MEPs and Council of Europe (CoE) parliamentarians met in Paris, June 19, to discuss the CoE Committee of Ministers' decision last week to resume talks on EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). UKIP MEP Stuart Agnew attended the meeting.
• Long before the UK was a member of the EU, it was a member of the Council of Europe (COE) which now has 47 participating countries. No country can join the EU without first being a member of the COE. This is the institution that oversees the administration of The European Court of Human Rights and no country is allowed to be a member of the COE without first being signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights.
Following the Lisbon Treaty, the EU regards itself as a single country, as far as its relationship with many international institutions is concerned. It insists that the 27 countries that are now part of the EU surrender their own individual membership of the COE, in favour of the EU being a member on their behalf.
I am obviously very unhappy with this idea, as the UK will not have a voice of its own. I made this very clear at the meeting.
The meeting also discussed the appointment of Judges to the European Court of Human Rights. These are the judges who can overturn judgements made in the UK and have done so on several occasions making our own justice system look irrelevant and frequently creating a situation where obvious wrong doing goes unpunished and individuals who should be deported from this country are allowed to remain, often on benefits.
The calibre of these foreign judges is not what we should always expect and there is the risk of individuals being given these prestigious jobs as political rewards. The EU wants its own Parliament to be involved in electing a proportion of these judges. The European Parliament itself does not truly represent its member states. For example the East of England returns 7 MEPs to represent 5 million people whilst Cyprus sends 6 MEPs to represent just 1 million.
I repeated this at the meeting. Progress on all this will be slow and the British Government does not like it but, as per usual, it is signed up to the principle.