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Austria court rules laws not comforming with EU rights charter are unconstitutional

The Austrian Constitutional Court [official website, in German] ruled [judgment, PDF, in German; press release, PDF, in German] Friday that the country's laws must not only conform to its own constitution but also to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights [text] in order to be upheld as constitutional. The only areas where legislation will not be held to the charter's standards are ones in which the EU does not legislate, such as the country's election laws. The court also said the EU charter will be used in deciding disputes between private individuals, even if they involve only Austrian citizens. The court also requires that laws conform with the EU Human Rights Convention to be constitutional.

Austria has been a leader in pushing for fundamental rights and accepting international standards. In August an Austrian court rejected a request [JURIST report] to send a suspected Serbian war criminal back to Serbia for fear that he would not receive a fair trial under the country's evidentiary laws. In 2010 Austria allowed the UN to establish an anti-corruption agency [JURIST report] in the country to help enforce the UN Convention against Corruption [text, PDF]. Despite these recent actions toward accepting international standards, however, Austria was among those least satisfied [JURIST report] with its EU membership as recently as 2008.

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About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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