Cross-party MEPs urge David Davis to keep Charter of Fundamental Rights

By agency reporter
January 17, 2018

Thirty cross-party Members of the European Parliament have signed an open letter to David Davis, warning that scrapping the Charter of Fundamental Rights could endanger the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

The letter stresses that MEPs will be closely involved in discussions over the future relationship between the UK and the EU, and that they will push to ensure that any future agreement protects human rights as set out in the Charter. This will also be taken into consideration when MEPs come to vote on the final withdrawal agreement.

The letter builds on campaigns by organisations such as Liberty and Amnesty International, who have expressed concerns about the Government’s decision not to retain the Charter in UK law. It also follows an open letter, signed by more than 20 organisations and human rights legal experts, urging the Government to ensure that the Charter’s protections are retained after Brexit.

MPs returned to the House of Commons on 16 January 2016to debate the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill to debate a number of amendments relating to dropping the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London, said, “Regardless of how people voted in the EU referendum, nobody wanted to have their rights and freedoms reduced. Yet, that is very likely to happen if the UK Government chooses to scrap the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

“This week, the Government has a chance to prove that it’s serious about safeguarding our rights, and that it will not allow them to be tossed aside in the race to secure a trade deal. This letter makes it clear that MEPs will not accept any moves to diminish these hard-won protections.”

Seb Dance, Labour MEP for London, said, "Brexit must not be used as a smokescreen for undermining human rights. The Charter of Fundamental Rights covers protections for workers, consumers and the LGBT community amongst many others. It is deeply worrying that the UK Government is seeking to abandon it as we withdraw from the EU. I urge the Government to do the right thing, and think again."

Full text of the letter:

"Rt Hon David Davis MP,

"The UK has a rich history of promoting and protecting human rights and worked closely with other Member States when the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union was drafted. So we are deeply concerned by the UK Government’s plans to use the EU (Withdrawal) Bill to abandon it.

"Making the Charter the only EU law that will not be copied into UK law will remove rights protections for everyone in the UK. The Charter contains important rights that do not have domestic equivalents under UK law, including protections for workers, consumers, people with disabilities, LGBT people and elderly people.

"In light of the European Council’s decision on 15 December 2017 to move on to the next stage of withdrawal negotiations, the European Parliament will now consider the EU’s future relationship with the UK and a potential transitionary period.

"Members of the European Parliament will be closely involved in discussions on these issues and will have a final vote on the UK’s withdrawal agreement. The European Parliament will soon issue a resolution on the second phase of negotiations, and we will push for it to make the protection of human rights a condition of any transitionary period or agreement on the EU’s future relationship with the UK.

"The UK Government’s approach to the Charter is an important litmus test of its post-Brexit commitment to human rights. The European Council has decided that existing EU laws and regulations must continue to apply to the UK during any transitionary period. The Charter is a crucial part of this; upholding fundamental human rights across the EU and underpinning the Union’s legal system and commitment to the rule of law.

"All agreements on the future relationship must ensure the UK maintains equivalent levels of human rights protection with the EU – which includes keeping the Charter rights.

"We will oppose any agreement that removes rights protections for UK citizens and EU nationals.

!We urge you, ahead of Report stage of the Repeal Bill, to reassess your approach towards the Charter of Fundamental Rights to avoid endangering the new relationship you wish to develop with the EU. Our common commitment to human rights and the rule of law has long bound us together. It should continue to do so in the future."

Yours sincerely,

Jean Lambert (Green Party, UK / Greens/EFA)

Alex Mayer (Labour, UK / S&D)

Alyn Smith (SNP, UK / Greens/EFA)

Barbara Lochbihler (Bundnis 90 / Die Grunen, Germany / Greens/EFA)

Bart Staes (Groen, Belgium / Greens/EFA)

Bas Eickhout (GroenLinks, Netherlands / Greens/EFA)

Catherine Bearder (Liberal Democrat, UK)

Clare Moody (Labour, UK / S&D)

Claude Moraes (Labour, UK / S&D)

Derek Vaughan (Labour, UK / S&D)

Eva Joly (Europe Ecologie, France / Greens/EFA)

Heidi Hautala (Vihrea Iiitto, Finland / Greens/EFA)

Jill Evans (Plaid Cymru, UK / Greens/EFA)

John Howarth (Labour, UK / S&D)

Julie Girling (Conservative, UK / ECR)

Jude Kirton-Darling (Labour, UK / S&D)

Karima Delli (Europe Ecologie, France / Greens/EFA)

Keith Taylor (Green Party, UK / Greens/EFA)

Lucy Anderson (Labour, UK / S&D)

Margrete Auken (Socialistisk Folkeparti, Denmark / Greens/EFA)

Mary Honeyball (Labour, UK / S&D)

Michel Reimon (Die Grunen - Die Grune Alternative, Austria / Greens/EFA)

Michele Rivasi (Europe Ecologie, France / Greens/EFA)

Molly Scott Cato (Green Party, UK / Greens/EFA)

Monika Vana (Die Grunen - Die Grune Alternative, Austria / Greens/EFA)

Neena Gill (Labour, UK / S&D)

Pascal Durand (Europe Ecologie, France / Greens/EFA)

Philippe Lamberts (Ecologistes Confédérés pour l'Organisation de Luttes Originales, Belgium / Greens/EFA)

Seb Dance (Labour, UK / S&D)

Terry Reintke (Bundnis 90 / Die Grunen, Germany / Greens/EFA)

* Liberty https://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/

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