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  • Dr Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos

Strasbourg court brings about change, but countries decide pace

In a blog for Fair Trials, Britain in Europe's Dr Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos (with Dutch academic, Kelly Pitcher) explains how the case law of the European Court of Human Rights can instil significant change within national jurisdictions, but it is the courts within these jurisdictions that really determine the pace - and extent - of such change.

In their blog Giannoulopoulos and Pitcher took the illustration of Dutch Supreme Court restraint in applying the ECHR on matters of legal assistance at the police station. They contrasted this with the more internationalist approach that the UK and French supreme courts have exhibited on this matter. They also shed light on the increasing influence of European Union law in criminal defence matters. The blog post follows up on research by Dr Giannoulopoulos recently published in the Human Rights Law Review.

'Comparative research in this area has interesting ramifications for the debate on a UK Bill of Rights, and the EU referendum itself', commented Dr Giannoulopoulos. 'The conventional and simplistic view, generated by the tabloid media, is that Strasbourg imposes its will on national jurisdictions.

'The truth is much more complicated and involves different countries reacting in different ways to European human rights jurisprudence. Some quickly accept it, some react to it. In some cases, there is constructive dialogue. In some, there is resistance. In practice, countries still maintain a lot of control over the pace in which they incorporate ECHR jurisprudence.'

'There is less leeway when it comes to EU legislation that incorporates ECHR standards, but we should not lose sight of the fact that there is a long negotiating process among EU member states and EU institutions before these are enacted into EU law.'

'In brief, the member state remains important, despite what some of the tabloid media (and many in the Brexit camp) would have you believe'.

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