Fundamental Rights in the EU
The gradual abolition of the European Union's internal borders goes hand in hand with the need to create a genuine European area of Freedom, Security and Justice. This includes projects such as the establishment of a common immigration and asylum policy and bolstering police and judicial cooperation. This process has in turn highlighted the need to better protect and respect the fundamental human rights of EU citizens and of people living in the European Union. The European project is firmly based on the rule of law and on the respect of fundamental rights.
The Charter of Fundamental Rights and the Agency for Fundamental Rights
The EU has set for itself the goal of promoting human rights within the Union and around the world. The rights of every individual in the EU are listed in several documents, such as the founding Treaties of the European Union, national constitutions or constitutional traditions, the case law of the European Court of Justice and of the European Court of Human Rights.
As these rights were established at different times, in different ways and in different forms, the EU decided to clarify things and to include them all in a single document – the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
The rights covered in the Charter include human dignity, freedom of expression, right to privacy, right to property, freedom to conduct a business, non-discrimination, access to justice and fairness in judicial proceedings.
Since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon on 1 December 2009, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights has become legally binding on the Union. The provisions of this Charter are addressed to the institutions and bodies of the EU, and to the Member States, when implementing Union law.
European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is fundamental document that has been signed and ratified by all members of the Council of Europe. One of the objectives of the Commission is to seek the European Union's accession to the Convention in its own right.
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) provides EU institutions implementing European Union law with expertise on fundamental rights.
The European Commission has identified children's rights as one of its main priorities. The EU has made significant progress in this area in recent years and has developed various concrete policies, both internally and externally, together with programmes on children’s rights under different existing legal bases. These span such policies as child trafficking and prostitution, violence against children, discrimination, child poverty, social exclusion, child labour, health and education or child safety in the online world.
Gender Equality and Non-Discrimination
Non-discrimination is a fundamental right. Ensuring equal opportunities for all is also vital for the European Union's economic development.
Over the last 50 years, the European Union has built up a robust legal framework to ensure equal treatment between women and men covering a wide range of areas: employment and training; social security and pensions; access to goods and services; maternity leave and parental leave. The European Institute for Gender Equality has been set up to support the EU's efforts to promote gender equality.
The EU has adopted legislation protecting people against discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age and sexual orientation. It takes action to make sure that people with disabilities are able to play a full and active role in society.