The EU fundamental rights digest. Good news, but…

If you are interested in the EU and fundamental rights, I have good news for you.

The Research and Documentation service at the Court of Justice has just finished an amazing recollection and systemization of 60 years of case-law on fundamental rights. It is an incredible piece of work, extremely useful for all lawyers, be they practitioners, academics, judges, you name it.

You can have access from here.

It is obvious that the project has been carefully conceived and finely designed. The division of subjects is cleverly done, it guides the user directly to what he might be looking for: the right, the scope of application, the criteria of interpretation, limitations to that specific right, etc.

It is a terrific initiative and the Court and its staff at the Recherche et Doc should be proud of such an excellent work.

But of course, there is a drawback.

First, it is difficult to find. It is unbelievable that such an ambitious and practical project has not been announced in the Court’s web page. In contrast with the European Court of Human Rights, whose web page is a model of transparency and user-friendliness, the Court of Justice, despite having a budget considerably larger than Strasbourg’s, has traditionally displayed its public web page in very cryptic terms. If you want to access the project I am talking about, you must make a long trip. Go to the Court’s home page and click “case-law” on the left, then “Digest to the case-law”, then go to the temporal segment you are interested in, then go to “the legal order of the EU” and then, if you are lucky and ever make it here, click “droits fondamentaux”. Not very user friendly, huh?

Second, it is in French. With all my respects to the French language, which I am proud to say I admire and adore, it is not realistic in this day and age to provide a service to European lawyers exclusively in French. Unfortunately this amazing project will only be accessible for a tenth or maybe less of all European lawyers. French is not the lingua franca among us, everyone knows it, except for the Court (or so it seems).

The reason for this short-sightlessness is easy to explain: the result of this project is mainly addressed to the Court’s staff, which, as you know, works in French. But once the initiative has been launched in the Court’s public web page, is it that difficult to introduce an English version too? In fact, the translations of the extracts already exist in all the official languages, so… why not a Spanish version too, and a German one, and a Danish and a Swedish version, and so on? That would certainly be a precious gift for us lawyers and, above all, for the people, the right holders, who deserve a good and professional service from us.

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