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On 6 October 2021, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) responded to the European Parliament’s (EP) request for an Opinion (Opinion 1/19), submitted in July 2019. The request concerns the EU’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention, a treaty which opens the path for creating a legal framework at pan-European level to protect women against all forms of violence, and prevent, prosecute and eliminate violence against women and domestic violence. 

The Convention was signed by the EU in 2017, however, it has yet to be ratified as there is a lack of consensus among Member States. In its request for an Opinion, the EP sought to understand whether the Treaties allow or require the Council of the European Union (Council) to wait for the mutual agreement, or ‘common accord,’ of the EU27 to be bound by the Convention before going further. [Para. 229].

The CJEU replied that such a practice would result in an addition to the conclusion  procedure laid down in Article 218(2), (6) and (8) TFEU of a step which is not provided for in the Treaties [para. 245]. Such a practice would in fact generate a ‘hybrid decision-making process’, one that is incompatible with the TFEU, which conceives, on the contrary, the conclusion of an international agreement as an act adopted by qualified majority by the Council and that is contrary to the case-law resulting from the judgment of 28 April 2015, Commission v Council (C‑28/12, EU:C:2015:282). [Para. 246].

The CJEU concludes by clarifying that the above does not preclude the Council from waiting for the ‘common accord’ of the Member States as long as the adoption of the decision is not contingent on the prior establishment of such a ‘common accord’. [Para. 388].

Please find the CJEU’s judgement here.

The ETUC called on the EU to ratify the Istanbul Convention in its Resolution on the 60th Anniversary of the Council of Europe European Social Charter and the 25th Anniversary of the Revised European Social Charter which can be found here.

The ETUC’s statement on Turkey’s withdrawal from the Convention can be found here