Today, The Herald published a very helpful letter by Ken Waddell, President of the Glasgow Bar Association, and others under the headline ‘Appeals to a supreme court are a constitutional right‘.
‘The Scotland Act’, Mr Waddell, points out, ‘limits the powers of Scottish ministers and indeed the Parliament in two important respects. They are not able to enact or pass legislation, which is contrary to the rights protected by the European Convention on Human Rights or European Community law‘.
Beneath his letter, is my own showing how Italian ministers and the Italian parliament enacted Art 26 of law 240/2010 and did just that. (http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/herald-letters/appeals-to-supreme-court-are-a-constitutional-right-1.1105870)
Italian parliamentarians debated law 240/2010, known as ‘the Gelmini reform’ in both chambers and they voted in favour of it, before the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano signed it into law (albeit only after adding a ‘critical note’).
It would be unthinkable for a government led by Angela Merkel or Nicolas Sarkozy or David Cameron or Alex Salmond to propose laws ‘extinguishing’ the legal rights of citizens, as this Italian law does, because parliaments in Germany, France and the UK are presumed not to legislate contrary the European Treaties.
On 8 April 2011, judge Silvana Cirvelleri, sitting in a Turin court, citied Art 26 of law 240/2010 – and declared the proceedings, in a foreign lecturer’s case, ‘extinguished’ (estinto) – a double whammy – flouting both the European Convention on Human Rights and The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
Italian parliamentarians debated this legislation in both chambers, and they voted in favour of it before the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano signed it into law (albeit only after adding a ‘critical note’).
Since this law specifically targets ‘lettori’ (people teaching in their mother tongue) it affects citizens from the UK, Spain, France, Germany and other EU countries.
Put plainly – this is one member state barring citizens from all other member states the right to have their legal claims adjudicated in a court of law.
This is not Europe. This fractures everything Europeans feel proud of. This is a serious challenge to democracy, the rule of law and the very survival of the entire European Project.
There should be a mighty row.