On 6 October 2002, Mr Robert Spano, President of the European Court of Human Rights gave a speech, at the invitation of the EFTA Court, at the European Convention Center in Luxembourg, in the presence of an audience of over 100 people, including the President of the EFTA Court, Mr Páll Hreinsson, Judge Bernd Hammermann, Judge Ola Mestad, President of the Court of Justice of the EU, Mr Koen Lenaerts, the President of the General Court of EU, Mr Marc Van der Woude, judges from both the Court of Justice of the EU and the General Court, and advocate-generals of the CJEU, His Excellency Thomas Barrett, US Ambassador, His Excellency Markus Börlin, Swiss Ambassdor, ESA College Member, Mr Árni Páll Árnason, and the President of the Administrative Court of Luxembourg, Mr Francis Delaporte. The speech was entitled The EEA Agreement, the ECHR and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights – A Multifaceted Relationship?
President Hreinsson welcomed the distinguished audience at the talk, and introduced President Spano and his remarkable work throughout the years. He mentioned, in particular, Spano´s great work in the international field as a Judge and the President of the European Court of Human Rights during the turbulent times of late, through his dedication to the protection of human rights and the rule of law in Europe.
In his talk, President Spano described the intricate relationship between the EEA Agreement and the ECtHR and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. He gave an historical overview of different phases of the evolution of the European Court of Human Rights and the Convention of Human Rights, and how historical development underlined the synergy between the ECtHR, CJEU and the EFTA-pillar of the EEA Agreement. In his view, this synergy between the systems needs to be safeguarded at all times. He also underlined the importance of human rights and international rule based order in these turbulent times.
He analysed the considerations underpinning the Bosphorus-doctrine, which provides that when EU Member States are implementing obligations under EU law in which they have no discretion, they are presumed to act in compliance with the Convention unless manifest deficiencies are present. President Spano discussed the recent Holship judgment of the ECtHR, which presupposes that this doctrine is not applicable in the EFTA pillar as, direct effect and supremacy, important buildings blocks of the presumption are not part of the EEA Agreement.
President Spano´s insight into the development of fundamental rights and his emphasis on the vital collaboration between the European courts inspired the audience to engage in an animated discussion at the end of his talk.