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An Olive Branch from Strasbourg? Interpreting the European Court of Human Rights’ Resurrection of Bosphorus and Reaction to Opinion 2/13 in the Avotiņš Case: ECtHR 23 May 2016, Case No. 17502/07, Avotiņš v Latvia

  • Paul Gragl
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Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor at Queen Mary, University of London.

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1 For a comprehensive and most recent analysis of this relationship and the planned accession of the EU to the Convention see e.g., F. Korenica, The EU Accession to the ECHR (Springer 2015).

2 ECtHR 23 May 2016 [GC], Case No. 17502/07, Avotiņš v Latvia.

3 ECJ 14 December 2014, Opinion 2/13, ECHR Accession II.

4 See e.g., Mole, N., ‘Can Bosphorus Be Maintained?’, 16 ERA Forum (2015) p. 467-480 ; Björgvinsson, D.T., ‘The Role of the European Court of Human Rights in the Changing European Human Rights Architecture’, in O.M. Arnardóttir and A. Buyse (eds.), Shifting Centres of Gravity in Human Rights Protection (Routledge 2016) p. 37 .

5 Under the crucial caveat that this presumption can of course be rebutted; see ECtHR 30 June 2005, Case No. 45036/98, Bosphorus v Ireland, paras. 150-156.

6 Council Regulation No. 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters [2001] OJ L 12/1.

7 See Glas, L.R. and Krommendijk, J., ‘From Opinion 2/13 to Avotiņš: Recent Developments in the Relationship between the Luxembourg and Strasbourg Court’, 17 Human Rights Law Review (2017) p. 1 .

8 ECHR Accession II, supra n. 3, paras. 191-194.

9 Avotiņš v Latvia, supra n. 2, paras. 14-20.

10 See Art. 34(2) of the Brussels I Regulation as well as s. 637(2), third sub-paragraph of the Latvian Civil Procedure Law.

11 See Arts. 38(1) and 55(1) as well as Annex V of the Brussels I Regulation, and s. 637(2), second sub-paragraph of the Latvian Civil Procedure Law.

12 Avotiņš v Latvia, supra n. 2, paras. 21-35.

13 ECtHR 25 February 2014, Case No. 17502/07, Avotiņš v Latvia.

14 Avotiņš v Latvia, supra n. 2, paras. 4 and 70-72.

15 See e.g., the seminal case in ECtHR 21 January 2011, Case No. 30696/09, M.S.S. v Belgium and Greece, and Gragl, P., ‘The Shortcomings of Dublin II: Strasbourg’s M.S.S. Judgment and Its Implications for the European Union’s Legal Order’, in W. Benedek et al. (eds.), European Yearbook of Human Rights 2012 (NWV 2012) p. 123-139 .

16 Avotiņš v Latvia, supra n. 2, paras. 70-79.

17 This argument implicitly refers to ECJ 6 October 1982, Case C-283/81, CILFIT.

18 Avotiņš v Latvia, supra n. 2, paras. 80-85.

19 See also Mole, supra n. 4, p. 476.

20 Avotiņš v Latvia, supra n. 2, para. 96. See ECtHR 29 April 2008, Case No. 18648/04, McDonald v France; ECtHR 18 December 2008, Case No. 69917/01, Saccoccia v Austria; ECtHR 31 July 2012, Case No. 40358/05, Sholokhov v Armenia and Moldova.

21 See ECtHR 26 June 1992, Case No. 12747/87, Drozd and Janousek v France; ECtHR 20 July 2001, Case No. 30882/96, Pellegrini v Italy.

22 Avotiņš v Latvia, supra n. 2, paras. 96-100.

23 ECtHR 6 December 2012, Case No. 12323/11, Michaud v France, paras. 102-104. See also Indlekofer, M. and Engel, D., ‘Solange II Revisited: Die “Michaud”-Entscheidung des EGMR und der Beitritt der EU zur EMRK’, 18 Zeitschrift für Europarechtliche Studien (2015) p. 75-93 .

24 Avotiņš v Latvia, supra n. 2, paras. 101-104.

25 See in particular ECJ 16 June 1981, Case C-166/80, Klomps v Michel; ECJ 10 October 1996, Case C-78/95, Hendrikman and Feyen v Magenta Druck & Verlag GmbH; ECJ 14 December 2006, Case C-283/05, ASML Netherlands BV v SEMIS; ECJ 6 September 2012, Case C-619/10, Trade Agency Ltd v Seramico Investments Ltd.

26 M.S.S. v Belgium and Greece, supra n. 15.

27 Avotiņš v Latvia, supra n. 2, paras. 105-108.

28 See ECtHR 20 September 2011, Case Nos. 3989/07 and 38353/07, Ilens de Schooten and Rezabek v Belgium, para. 62; ECtHR 8 April 2014, Case No. 17120/09, Dhahbi v Italy, paras. 31-34. See also Settem, O.J., Applications of the ‘Fair Hearing’ Norm in ECHR Article 6(1) to Civil Proceedings (Springer 2016) p. 382-384 .

29 Avotiņš v Latvia, supra n. 2, paras. 109-111.

30 See also Mitsilegas, V., ‘Mutual Recognition, Mutual Trust, and Fundamental Rights after Lisbon’, in V. Mitsilegas et al. (eds.), Research Handbook on EU Criminal Law (Edward Elgar 2016) p. 148-167 .

31 Avotiņš v Latvia, supra n. 2, paras. 112-114.

32 ECHR Accession II, supra n. 3, para. 192.

33 Avotiņš v Latvia, supra n. 2, para. 114.

34 Ibid., paras. 114-115. Apparently, this is not the only paradox in the context of the principle of mutual trust; see e.g., Swoboda, S., ‘The Self-Perception of the European Court of Justice and Its Neglect of the Defence Perspective in Its Preliminary Rulings on Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters’, 7 Zeitschrift für Internationale Strafrechtsdogmatik (2015) p. 361 at p. 317, drawing attention to ECJ 27 May 2014, Case C-129/14 PPU Spašić, where – despite the call upon Member States to trust each other – the individual has to suffer restrictions of fundamental rights, because the ECJ deems it more appropriate to allow Member States to distrust each other and to doubt each other’s willingness to enforce charges and sentences for a crime.

35 Bosphorus, supra n. 5, para. 156.

36 Avotiņš v Latvia, supra n. 2, para. 116.

37 Ibid., para. 121.

38 Ibid., paras. 117-127.

39 European Court of Human Rights, 2014 Annual Report, Foreword by President Spielmann, p. 6.

40 Groussot, X. et al., ‘The Paradox of Human Rights Protection in Europe: Two Courts, One Goal?’, in O.M. Arnardóttir and A. Buyse (eds.), Shifting Centres of Gravity in Human Rights Protection (Routledge 2016) p. 24 .

41 Lock, T., The European Court of Justice and International Courts (Oxford University Press 2015) p. 214-215 . See also in general Lock, T., ‘The Influence of EU Law on Strasbourg Doctrines’, 41 European Law Review (2016) p. 804-825 .

42 Glas and Krommendijk, supra n. 7, p. 11.

43 See Butler, G., ‘A Political Decision Disguised as Legal Argument? Opinion 2/13 and European Union Accession to the European Convention on Human Rights’, 31 Utrecht Journal of International and European Law (2015) p. 104 at p. 108.

44 S. Øby Johansen, ‘EU Law and the ECHR: The Bosphorus Presumption is Still Alive and Kicking – The Case of Avotiņš v. Latvia’, EU Law Analysis, 24 May 2016, available at <eulawanalysis.blogspot.co.at/2016/05/eu-law-and-echr-bosphorus-presumption.html>, visited 1 April 2017.

45 It is evident that the Bosphorus doctrine also plays a role in cases not related to EU law (see e.g., in relation to the law of the United Nations ECtHR 7 July 2011, Case No. 27021/08, Al-Jedda v United Kingdom and ECtHR 2 May 2007, Case Nos 71412/01 and 78166/01, Behrami and Behrami v France and Saramati v France, Germany, and Norway), but these cases will be disregarded here.

46 Such as ECtHR 10 October 2006, Case No. 16931/04, Coopérative des agriculteurs de Mayenne v France; ECtHR 9 December 2008, Case No. 13762/04, Biret v 15 States; ECtHR 20 January 2009, Case No. 13645/05, Kokkelvisserij v Netherlands; ECtHR 18 June 2013, Case No. 3890/11, Povse v Austria; M.S.S. v Belgium and Greece, supra n. 15.

47 See in general Glas and Krommendijk, supra n. 7, p. 16-17.

48 Avotiņš v Latvia, supra n. 2, para. 109.

49 Glas and Krommendijk, supra n. 7, p. 16.

50 CILFIT, supra n. 17.

51 See also ECtHR 8 April 2014, Case No. 17120/09, Dhahbi v Italy, and ECtHR 21 July 2015, Case No. 38369/09, Schipani v Italy.

52 CILFIT, supra n. 17, para. 9.

53 Glas and Krommendijk, supra n. 7, p. 17.

54 Avotiņš v Latvia, supra n. 2, para. 106.

55 Düsterhaus, D., ‘Judicial Coherence in the Area of Freedom, Security, and Justice – Squaring Mutual Trust with Effective Judicial Protection’, 8 Review of European Administrative Law (2015) p. 151 at p. 169.

56 Avotiņš v Latvia, supra n. 13, Joint Dissenting Opinion of Judges Ziemele, Bianku, and de Gaetano, para. 4.

57 Regulation (EU) No. 604/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an application for international protection lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national or a stateless person (recast), OJ L 180/31, 29 June 2013. See also M.S.S. v Belgium and Greece, supra n. 15.

58 Glas and Krommendijk, supra n. 7, p. 15.

59 See e.g., Hazelhorst, M., Free Movement of Civil Judgments in the European Union and the Right to a Fair Trial (Springer 2017) p. 213-215 ; Beaumont, P. and Walker, L., ‘Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Civil and Commercial Matters in the Brussels I Recast and Some Lessons from It and the Recent Hague Conventions for the Hague Judgments Project’, 11 Journal of Private International Law (2015) p. 31 at p. 36.

60 Avotiņš v Latvia, supra n. 2, paras. 120-121.

61 Øby Johansen, supra n. 44; Glas and Krommendijk, supra n. 7, p. 19.

62 Avotiņš v Latvia, supra n. 2, para. 121.

63 Øby Johansen, supra n. 44. See also ECHR Accession II, supra n. 3, paras. 191-195.

64 Avotiņš v Latvia, supra n. 2, paras. 46-48.

65 Ibid., para. 109.

66 Ibid., para. 118.

67 Biagioni, G., ‘ Avotiņš v Latvia: The Uneasy Balance between Mutual Recognition of Judgments and Protection of Fundamental Rights’, 1 European Papers (2016) p. 579 at p. 589.

68 Avotiņš v Latvia, supra n. 2, para. 114.

69 Ibid., para. 116.

70 See Opinion 2/13, ECHR Accession II, supra n. 3, para. 191; ECJ 21 December 2011, Joined Cases C-411/10 and C-493/10, N.S. and M.E, paras. 78-80; ECJ 26 February 2013, Case C-399/11, Melloni, paras. 37 and 63.

71 Avotiņš v Latvia, supra n. 2, para. 121.

72 Biagioni, supra n. 67, p. 590. Concerning the question of a minimal standard of control of Art. 6(1) ECHR, see also Kiestra, L.R., The Impact of the European Convention on Human Rights on Private International Law (TMC Asser 2014) p. 254 ff.

73 Biagioni, supra n. 67, p. 590.

74 For this metaphor, see also Spielmann, D., ‘Human Rights Case Law in the Strasbourg and Luxembourg Courts: Conflicts, Inconsistencies, and Complementarities’, in P. Alston et al. (eds), The EU and Human Rights (Oxford University Press 1999) p. 773 .

75 Glas and Krommendijk, supra n. 7, p. 20.

76 ECJ 5 April 2016, Joined Cases C-404/15 and C-659/15 PPU, Aranyosi and Căldăraru.

77 ECJ 30 June 2016, Case C-243/15, Lesoochranárske zoskupenie VLK, Opinion of Advocate General Kokott, para. 113; ECJ 8 September 2016, Case C-354/15, Andrew Marcus Henderson, Opinion of Advocate General Bobek, para. 36.

78 Council of the European Union, Doc. 7551/16, 11 April 2016, 1.

79 Biagioni, supra n. 67, p. 595-596.

80 Glas and Krommendijk, supra n. 7, p. 20.

* Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor at Queen Mary, University of London.

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