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Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship

Making fundamental rights a reality for citizens

Lisbon Treaty

The European Commission has released its second annual report on the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. The publication shows that fundamental rights concerns are increasingly embedded in EU policy-making, as Viviane Reding, Vice-President in charge of Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, says that she has "made the Charter the compass of all policies decided at EU level".

The Charter sets out fundamental rights – such as freedom of expression and the protection of personal data – that reflect Europe’s common values and its constitutional heritage. It has now been in force and legally binding for over two years. Today's report is part of the Commission's efforts to raise people's awareness of the Charter, when it applies, and the role of EU institutions in fundamental rights.

The primary role of the Charter is to guarantee that the EU institutions respect fundamental rights in preparing new European laws. The EU Court of Justice increasingly refers to the Charter, notably in landmark decisions on sex discrimination and internet privacy. Key policy areas, including the use of security scanners at airports, the independence of Hungary's data protection authority, and the right of asylum seekers to protection from inhuman or degrading treatment, have all been guided or shaped by the charter.

While citizens are more aware of the charter than in 2007 (64% compared to 48%, according to a Flash Eurobarometer), 65% of Europeans say they would like to learn more about where to turn if their Charter rights are violated.

Today's report also identifies the crucial link between gender equality and economic growth. EU countries need to get more women into the labour market in order to meet the EU's overall objective of 75% employment rate for all adults by 2020.