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What is the EU doing to implement the Charter?

In 2010, the Commission adopted a Strategy to monitor and ensure the effective implementation of the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Charter.

How are fundamental rights enshrined in the Charter implemented?

The strategy for the effective implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights by the European Unionpdf [63 KB] aims to:

  • guarantee that at every step - from the EU legislative process to the application of EU law at the national level - the rights and principles of the Charter are taken into account ;
  • improve EU citizens' understanding of fundamental rights protection within the EU, providing them with concrete information on possible remedies and the role of the Commission in this field;
  • monitor - through presenting Annual Reports - the progress achieved regarding the Charter's application.

Guaranteeing that the EU is beyond reproach in upholding fundamental rights

All proposals for EU legislation must respect the Charter. The Commission therefore reinforced its assessment of the impact of new legislative proposals on fundamental rights. In particular, the Commission adopted its Operational Guidance on taking account of fundamental rights in Commission Impact Assessmentspdf(144 kB) Choose translations of the previous link .

On the basis of a "fundamental rights check list", the Commission's services identify which fundamental rights could be affected by a proposal and assess systematically the impact on these rights of each envisaged policy option.

During the legislative process, including final compromises in the European Parliament and the Council of the EU, the Commission works with co-legislators to ensure that EU law is in line with the Charter. The Commission launches an inter-institutional dialogue to determine methods for dealing with amendments that raise questions of compatibility with fundamental rights.

EU countries are already bound by the fundamental rights guaranteed under their national constitutions. However, when they implement EU law, they must also respect fundamental rights.

The Commission uses all tools available, including infringement proceedings when necessary, to ensure compliance with the Charter in the implementation of EU law.

Improving information for citizens

Citizens should know where they can turn for assistance in cases of violations of fundamental rights. Since 2011, they have access to information about legal remedies in all EU countries through the Commission's new e-Justice portal.

Moreover, the Commission explains when it can and cannot intervene in fundamental rights complaints where these are outside the scope of EU competence.

The Charter does not establish a general power for the Commission to intervene in the area of fundamental rights. It can intervene only when EU law comes into play (for example, when EU legislation is adopted or when a national measure applies an EU law in a manner incompatible with the Charter).

EU countries have their own systems for protecting fundamental rights through national constitutions and courts; the Charter is not a replacement for them. Therefore, in the first place it is up to the national courts to ensure respect for fundamental rights.

Monitoring progress

The Commission publishes an Annual Report pdf(5 MB) Choose translations of the previous link on the Application of the Charter.

The Annual Report monitors progress in the areas where the EU has powers to act, showing how the Charter has been taken into account in actual cases (such as when new legislation is proposed).

It provides an opportunity for an annual exchange of views with the European Parliament and the Council of the EU. It also acts as a vehicle for improving information for the public.

Viviane Reding , former Vice-President of the European Commission and EU Justice Commissioner: "The binding EU Charter of Fundamental Rights: Key trends two years later" (2012) pdf(45 kB) Choose translations of the previous link