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Minister of Justice Häkkänen: EU should accede to the European Convention on Human Rights

Ministry of Justice
Publication date 31.10.2017 9.21 | Published in English on 31.10.2017 at 11.59
Press release

“The future of Europe will be shaped by our ability to protect and develop democracy, the rule of law and human rights,” said Minister of Justice Antti Häkkänen in his opening speech at ‘Finland 100 Years and the Rule of Law’ seminar at Finlandia Hall today. The seminar, organised by the Ministry of Justice, focused on the role of a good legal system for economic growth and the realisation of human rights in Europe and Finland.

In his speech the minister urged the European Union to accede to the European Human Rights Convention.

“For almost ten years now the EU has had the obligation to accede to the European Human Rights Convention. In Europe, and globally, there are movements that challenge the fundamental values. At the moment Europe is still the dominant player in value-based leadership and in promoting the western fundamental and human rights. However, within Europe there are now alarming developments where these values are questioned, which is why our shared value base needs to be further strengthened. The EU should show its commitment to honouring the human rights by acceding to the Human Rights Convention”, Häkkänen said.

Efficient and reliable legal system needed to achieve economic growth

Minister Häkkänen also talked about studies that show a direct link between the efficiency of the legal system and economic growth. He suggested that a greater weight should be given to the functioning of the legal systems when considering new strategies for economic growth in the EU and Finland.

“Both the scientific literature and studies by the OECD, World Bank and IMF show without doubt that the legal environment is directly linked to economic growth. A good legal environment and realisation of the citizens’ rights promote investments, employment and innovation.” 

“As an example, labour market reforms can be beneficial if effective legal mechanisms for the resolution of disputes have also been constructed. We can attract more foreign investments if the legal practice and official proceedings are predictable. Inputs in innovation can be supported by strengthening the means for the protection of property rights. The functioning of the single market is based on common rules and compliance with these, determined by court decisions if necessary. Compromising the independence of courts may cause significant damage to the economic environment as well”, Häkkänen said.

Security Union counterbalanced by a stronger Union based on the rule of law

Minister Häkkänen stressed that strengthening the security of Europe is a key priority for the EU.

“The measures already launched for better cooperation among the security authorities are important and they must be continued. When strengthening security we must bear in mind that these efforts need to be counterbalanced by a strong European Union based on the rule of law. This requires building an even stronger position for the fundamental and human rights, free civil society and free media within Europe. A strong Union based on the rule of law is a guarantee for an open society and liberal democracy”, Häkkänen said.

“European identity is founded on shared values. The European Union is also an area of Freedom, Security and Justice, where cooperation is based on mutual recognition of the decisions made by courts and public authorities. This requires strong mutual trust between Member States. At worst, violations of the rule of law in some EU countries may prevent the achievement of our common objectives.”

“An efficient and reliable legal system promotes the fundamental rights and economic growth. When it comes to the rule of law, there are no compromises”, Minister Häkkänen concluded.

Inquiries: Lauri Koskentausta, Special Adviser, tel. +358 295 50131

Minister Häkkänen’s speech  

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