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20 / 03 / 2008 - Lisbon and the rights of unborn
Lisbon and the rights of unborn
Europe Minister Dick Roche gives does not give the full picture when he writes (Letters, March 14) that Ireland's Maastricht Protocol on the right to life of the unborn would continue to be protected under the Lisbon Treaty.
He fails to allude to the fact that Lisbon would, for the first time, give the EU Court of Justice the power to define the right to life, as well as many other human and civil rights, for all EU citizens if it should come into force.
The Lisbon Treaty would do this by making the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights legally binding in all areas of EU law, including member states when implementing EU law, and the EU now makes some two-thirds of all our laws each year.
Lisbon provides that the charter would "have the same legal value as the treaties" (Art.6.1) and as such, the rights set out in it would be superior to the Irish law and constitution in any case of conflict between the two.
Lisbon would make us all into real EU citizens for the first time, instead of our being merely notional or honorary EU "citizens" at present.
The charter sets out the rights of EU citizens. Lisbon would thus empower the Court of Justice to decide on what the right to life of EU citizens means in EU law. It is possible to imagine a situation where a conflict of rights could occur between the provision of Ireland's Abortion Protocol and the right to life of EU citizens in general as that might be interpreted by the Court Justice.
In such a case, it is the Court of Justice that would decide which right should prevail. Would it decide that the rights of EU citizens living in Ireland must be different from those of EU citizens domiciled in Britain, France or Sweden? No one knows.
Ireland's "right to life" protocol does not cover euthanasia of course, which is legal in some EU countries and which is also likely to be claimed to be a general EU citizens' right that the Court of Justice will be asked to decide on in future cases as it interprets the meaning of the right to life and seeks to lay down a cross-EU standard.
There are many other rights in sensitive areas where there are significant national differences between EU member states.
What Lisbon does is to take away the final power to decide these highly sensitive matters from the Irish Supreme Court and the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and hand it over to the EU Court in Luxembourg. Truly this is more about power than rights.
Anthony Couglan, The National Platform
Source : Irish Independent