Monday, 31 October 2011
A tabloid-friendly guide to the EU and ECHR
While media watching, one thing you notice is a repeated confusion between the European Union (EU) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) (run by the Council of Europe, CoE).
This may be completely inadvertent, but the Sun, Daily Mail and Express do make this mistake on a regular basis, amongst other "errors".
I thought I would help them out.
Wikipedia has the following diagram showing how the jurisdiction of various European bodies overlaps*, as well as a few extra bits**:
As you can see there is a clear overlap between the EU and CoE/ECtHR - in fact to join the EU you must be a member of the CoE/ECtHR - but it is clear that there is a significant difference between the two, even when simply looking at the members of each.
The main difference is that one is more trade-related; one more co-operation related.
The EU was set up in 1958 by various western European countries, but not the UK (which created the European Free Trade Association in response), to help them trade with each other. In fact, the basic idea of the EU is to create an economic bloc between various countries via a single internal market.
The CoE was set up in 1949 - by the UK among others - is more of an inter-governmental co-operation organisation, kind of like a Europe-only UN, with a specific focus on civil rights by the European Convention on Human Rights, which the UK drafted, and a less obvious focus on pharmacology standards.
So while it can be seen that there are similarities between the two, there are obvious differences.
Hopefully, the tabloids will read this and take note, especially as the EU has already attempted to point this out, albeit without success.
* There are a few bodies which aren't shown on the diagram, including the Central European Free Trade Agreement (which will probably be swallowed up by the EU in the future given the EU's Candidates and Potential Candidates), and the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia which is rarely mentioned in the UK.
** The other items are the European Free Trade Association; the European Economic Area; the EU Customs Zone; and the Schengen Area; as well as showing non-EU countries countries which have agreements to mint €s, but not those which decided to use it, without reaching a formal agreement, due to historic reasons.