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Did you know that 2013 is the European Year of Citizens? Read more ...

 
Fundamental rights for all

At the heart of the European legal system lies a set of basic freedoms and standards which are non-negotiable.

Fundamental rights are based on common values and respect for diversity; they affirm the dignity and worth of all individuals. They stem from the principle of equality – regardless of any traits that may set us apart, we are all entitled to the same fundamental rights.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights

The rights of each and every individual in the EU are listed in important documents such as the founding treaties of the European Union, national constitutions or constitutional traditions.

Because 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 one single document – The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The EU institutions and Member States must respect the rights included in the Charter. This means, for example, that you have the right to move to another EU country and to live free from discrimination.

Article 21(1) of the Charter
“Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited.”

Think before sharing!

Data protection is now a fundamental right under EU law. But if you decide to make your personal information public – for example on social networking sites – it might be seen by your school or future employer. So, how much information is too much?

The internet has opened new frontiers, but we are still learning where the boundaries lie between our public and private lives. As a general rule, no one should access or use your personal information without your permission. Likewise, you should check if it is okay with your friends before you share their personal details.

Most social networks offer privacy controls, which you should learn to use. It might require a little digging to find all the different settings, but you should be able to control who can see which parts of your profile and whether your name appears in search results. These privacy controls are often found to be insufficient so ultimately what information you share is your responsibility.

EU citizenship
“If you are a citizen of an EU country, then you’re automatically a European citizen as well. This confers additional rights and responsibilities.
  • You have the right to travel, live, work and study in any other EU Member State.
  • When residing in an EU country other than your own, you have the right to vote in local and European elections.
  • And if you are visiting someplace outside of the EU, where your own country does not have an embassy, you’re entitled to help from the embassies of other EU countries.

The rights of young people

Young people have the same fundamental rights as adults, but they also benefit from additional protection. In legal documents, such as the Charter of Fundamental Rights, these are referred to as the rights of the child. A child is defined as every person under the age of 18. In this area, the Charter is based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

All EU countries have agreed to ensure the protection of children’s rights. However the reality of everyday life at home, at school or in the street does not always take account of the rights mentioned in official documents. These rights are sometimes not understood, applied or even known, leaving young people vulnerable.

Whenever adults make decisions for children, the best interests of the child must be considered at all times. This can only be achieved by creating opportunities for young people to express their views and to be heard. The right to be heard means that you have a say on decisions that affect you. With this right comes responsibility, so that on the one hand you’re allowed to express yourself freely, but on the other, you must also respect the rights of others.

To learn more about your rights as a young person, visit ec.europa.eu/0-18/.