It is now against the European Law to criticise the EU-FROM 2000

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Offline the leveller

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 All those practising Common Law who believe that, if we remain in the European Union, English Law will not be usurped by Corpus Juris, the inquisitional law of Napoleon, as is clearly stated in the Lisbon Treaty, might like to read this forerunner of how the EU sees matters.  B&A

It is now against the European Law to criticise the EU


The Euro Probe

 (At first glance this item might appear self-contradictory. In fact the court, whilst rejecting the specific terms of the Colomer submission, found that as a general principle political speech critical of the EU may be suppressed - Ed)

 THE European Court of Justice ruled yesterday that the European Union can lawfully suppress political criticism of its institutions and of leading figures, sweeping aside English Common Law and 50 years of European precedents on civil liberties. The EU’s top court found that the European Commission was entitled to sack Bernard Connolly, a British economist dismissed in 1995 for writing a critique of European monetary integration entitled The Rotten Heart of Europe.

 The ruling stated that the commission could restrict dissent in order to “protect the rights of others” and punish individuals who “damaged the institution’s image and reputation”. The case has wider implications for free speech that could extend to EU citizens who do not work for the Brussels bureaucracy.

 The court called the Connolly book “aggressive, derogatory and insulting”, taking particular umbrage at the author’s suggestion that Economic and Monetary Union was a threat to democracy, freedom and “ultimately peace”.

However, it dropped an argument put forward three months ago by the advocate-general, Damaso Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer, which implied that Mr Connolly’s criticism of the EU was akin to extreme blasphemy, and therefore not protected speech.

 Mr Connolly, who has been told to pay the European Commission’s legal costs, said the proceedings did not amount to a fair hearing. He said: “We’re back to the Star Chamber and Acts of Attainder: the rights of defendants are not respected or guaranteed in any way; the offence of seditious libel has been resurrected.”

Mr Colomer wrote in his opinion last November that a landmark British case on free speech had “no foundation or relevance” in European law, suggesting that the European Court was unwilling to give much consideration to British legal tradition.

 Mr Connolly now intends to take his case to Europe’s other court, the non-EU European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Case 274/99 of the European Court of Justice

 RUIZ-JARABO COLOMER the Advocate-General of the European Court of Justice gave a legal opinion (in case C-274/99) in 19 October 2000 that criticism of the EU, its institutions or its leading figures was akin to blasphemy. Further, that, because laws against blasphemy were acceptable both under the common law of England and the existing European Human Rights Convention, it then followed that punishing someone for allegedly criticizing the EU was not an infringement of free speech. This opinion was given as a result of a case against a British European Commission official Bernard Connolly, who had written ‘The Rotten Heart Of Europe’, a book critical of the EU.

 The European Court of First Instance found against him, ruling that the EU may restrict political speech to protect its interests.

 Initially Mr. Connolly had argued that a landmark British case, Wingrove VS. United Kingdom, had established that political speech could not be limited except in extreme circumstances of blasphemy. The Wingrove case concerned a pornographic video showing St. Teresa of Avila engaged in various sexual acts.

 The advocate general turned that argument upside down and argued that the blasphemy ruling implied a broader protection for the ‘rights of others’. It was the cornerstone of his argument that the EU can legitimately punish dissent.

 The meat of the issue is in sections 15 to 20 where the advocate general referes to the Wingrove case in the UK

 Section 15 gives some of the Wingrove case background basically saying that “It appears from the judgment that English law defined the offence of blasphemy in the following terms: ‘Every publication is said to be blasphemous which contains any contemptuous, reviling, scurrilous or ludicrous matter relating to God, Jesus Christ or the Bible, or the formularies of the Church of England as by law established. … the Court of Human Rights …. acknowledged that the national authorities needed sufficient flexibility to enable them to assess whether certain facts fell within the definition of the offence.”

Section 17 states affirms that censorship is fine in the case of ‘the protection of the reputation or the rights of others, which, without any doubt, encompasses a Community institution’s rights in relation to the reputation of its members’

20 concludes “To put it in positive terms, the decision dismissing Mr Connolly for having contravened that provision satisfies the requirement of proportionality in that it finds that the work which was published caused serious prejudice to the Communities’ interests”

The full text can be obtained from the Court of Justice of the European Communities website ( ng=en&Submit=Submit&docrequire=alldocs&numaff=C-274%2F99&datefs=&datefe=&nomusuel=&domaine=&mots=&resmax=100 )– incidentally it is very hard to find using the site search engine – perhaps they are not proud of this one?!


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