Thursday, January 16, 2014

The ECHR is a pillar of European values. The UK will not withdraw from it

The European Union is a political partnership. It is of course an economic partnership as well, but above all the Union unites 28 nations who over history have often been at one another’s throats in various combinations! Never again. The unification of Europe after the horrors of the twentieth century is a major achievement. To live in peace with our neighbours is something that my parents and grandparents generations could not even dream of. But now it is a reality.

To live in harmony does not mean to agree with each other on everything or all the time – ask any family! But the substance of the European partnership is common interest and common values. That is why something like the “European Convention on Human Rights” (ECHR) is so important. Yes there is a surrender of national sovereignty in the ECHR – so there is in any treaty or alliance. The ECHR is something that goes well beyond the EU of course and is not owned by it. The European Council of 47 states owns the ECHR and runs its European Court of Human Rights. To oppose the ECHR as some British politicians are doing at the moment and even suggest withdrawal is nonsense. Are we really going to be the only European nation not party to the ECHR? Obviously not!

When you negotiate to find a common agreement with partners in the end you either bow to the majority (if you disagree) or you walk away. If 46 members of the European Council are happy with the ECHR and you are the only one less than content that suggests you might need to look to yourself doesn't it! Unless you think that Britain is uniquely wise. Which at the very least is a questionable proposition!


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