Now that the EU Constitution has been adopted, one might be inclined to think that the debate on the position of human rights in the legal order of the European Union has come to an end. For more than 25 years academics and politicians have discussed the desirability of EC/EU accession to the European Convention of Human Rights and have argued for or against a separate bill of fundamental rights. That is all over now: Article I-7 of the Constitution provides for Union accession to the European Convention, whereas part II incorporates the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
It would seem, therefore, that a solid framework for the protection of human rights in the EU legal order has been put in place. The rest will be a matter of implementation: taking fundamental rights into account when drafting and executing European legislation; invoking these rights before the Court of Justice; lodging complaints with the European Court of Human Rights when the EU institutions, despite everything, failed to secure these rights. All very important, albeit that some may find the daily application of human rights not as sexy as the large constitutional questions of the past.
So is this the ‘end of history’ for human rights? Quite the opposite. The best is yet to come!