Final meeting of the Negotiating Group on EU Accession

The CDDH ad hoc negotiation Group (“46+1”) on EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights held its 18th and final meeting in Strasbourg from 14 to 17 March 2023.

The meeting was mainly devoted to the discussion of issues relating to Article 7 of the Accession Agreement regarding voting in the Committee of Ministers on decisions concerning the implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights by the EU.

The Group furthermore discussed and agreed to make some changes to Article 3, paragraphs 5-8, and to the corresponding paragraphs of the explanatory report, concerning the triggering and termination of the co-respondent mechanism, the principle of joint responsibility, and the prior involvement procedure.

Thus, the only outstanding issue was that of the EU acts in the area of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (Basket 4). The problem here stems from paragraph 256 of Opinion 2/13 in which the CJEU stated that “jurisdiction to carry out a judicial review of acts, actions or omissions on the part of the EU, including in the light of fundamental rights, cannot be conferred exclusively on an international court which is outside the institutional and judicial framework of the EU”.

As regards the latter issue, the representative of the EU informed the Group of the EU’s intention to resolve it internally, and of its expectation that the Group would not be required to address this issue as part of its own work, but that resolution of this issue had not yet been achieved within the EU.

This being so, the Group concluded that it had resolved all of the issues that it was currently expected to address. It therefore provisionally agreed to adopt the resulting package of revised draft accession instruments, and adopted its report to the CDDH. The latter and the final meeting report are appended below.

An extraordinary meeting, at which the CDDH will adopt its report to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, will take place on 4 April 2023.

With all the issues raised by the CJEU in its Opinion 2/13 now having been addressed by the 46+1 Group, except that of Basket 4 which the EU undertook to address internally, the future of EU accession now lies entirely in the hands of the EU and its Member States. The progress of the procedure leading to the entry into force of that Agreement will therefore not least depend on how quick the EU will be in keeping-up the momentum for EU accession and offering a solution for Basket 4. In any event, the agreement amongst the “46 + 1” shows that all States involved remain committed to see EU accession become reality.