In the Treaty of Lisbon, the EU committed itself to sign up to the European Convention of Human Rights. The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has consistently ruled (see the judgment of 13 February 2003 on applications 41340/98, 41342/98, 41343/98 and 41344/98) that sharia law is not compatible with the fundamental principles of democracy in the ECHR (‘The Court concurs in the Chamber’s view that sharia is incompatible with the fundamental principles of democracy, as set forth in the Convention’).
Case law also exists in Germany that only permits sharia law to be applied provided this is compatible with ‘ordre public’, in other words the fundamental principles of the constitution. In some Member States, however, there have been some disturbing developments in recent years, for example in Belgium, the Netherlands and, in particular, the United Kingdom: thus, hundreds of Islamic courts already exist in the United Kingdom where disputes are arbitrated upon on the basis of the Koran. Tens of thousands of Britons have signed Internet petitions against the undermining of the state’s legal system by sharia courts.
1. What is the Commission’s position in relation to the application of sharia law in the Member States?
2. What is the Commission’s position in relation to the application of sharia law by national courts in the context of private international law? In the opinion of the Commission, does a limit exist in relation to ‘ordre public’?
3. What is the Commission’s position in relation to the aforementioned increasing number of sharia courts? Does this lead to a parallel jurisdiction that undermines the state’s legal system? How can state control be assured when the courts frequently operate on an underground basis, in mosques or private houses?
4. In view of the EU’s aforementioned accession to the ECHR, is it possible to justify allowing sharia law to be applied in the EU?
5. What measures is the Commission considering putting in place to prevent judicial administration that is incompatible with basic European values, in particular in relation to the equality of the sexes?