At 23:00 GMT on 31 January 2020, the UK departed from the European Union. Following that departure, there was a transition period which ended at 23:00 GM on 31 December 2020. Nevertheless, there are still people (mostly, dare one say it, politicians who really should know better) who manage to confuse our membership of the Council of Europe (“CoE”) with our (non)-membership of the European Union (“EU”) and, in particular, the European Court of Human Rights with the Court of Justice of the European Union. What follows is an attempt to dispel at least some of that confusion.
The EU and the CoE both have ministerial councils, permanent secretariats of officials, courts to determine disputes and assemblies of parliamentarians – but their functions, organisations and legal foundations are very different and you must not confuse the two. (There also are other less well-known Europe-wide political institutions, such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, but they are much less important terms of domestic law.)
The Council of Europe
The Council of Europe, based in Strasbourg, was established on 5 May 1949 by ten countries, one of which was the United Kingdom, under the Treaty of London, which was ratified and entered into force on 3 September 1953. Continue reading