31 Dec 2020

Late in the afternoon of 24 December 2020, the UK government and the EU Commission announced that the UK and EU had agreed the terms of a post-Brexit Free Trade Deal. The text of the Agreement was published later the same day. The media (and social media in particular) are already myth-ridden. Here, we consider and bust another one.

Myth: The Agreement means the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) no longer applies in or to the UK

Myth Buster

The ECHR is only mentioned three times in the Agreement.

In particular, it provides that:

(1) The cooperation provided for in [Part 3 of this Agreement, which governs Law Enforcement and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters] is based on the Parties’ and Member States’ longstanding respect for democracy, the rule of law and the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals, including as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the European Convention on Human Rights, and on the importance of giving effect to the rights and freedoms in that Convention domestically.

(2) Nothing in this Part modifies the obligation to respect fundamental rights and legal principles as reflected, in particular, in the European Convention on Human Rights …

It also provides that:

…if [Part 3 of this Agreement] is terminated on account of the United Kingdom or a Member State having denounced the European Convention on Human Rights … this Part [3] shall cease to be in force …”

The Agreement does not therefore stop the ECHR applying in or to the UK. It emphasises how important the ECHR is to each of the UK, the EU and the EU’s Member States, before creating a significant disincentive to UK ECHR denunciation: if the UK denounces the ECHR, it automatically loses the benefit of EU law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters – a significant loss in the UK’s fight against crime.

Click here to read more myth busters relating to the EU / UK trade agreement.


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