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What to do if your rights are violated

In the EU, your fundamental rights are doubly protected: by your country's constitutional systems and by the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights, EU legislation and the case law of the European Court of Justice.

What does the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights cover?

When does the Charter of Fundamental Rights apply?
Consult the chart for guidancepdf(297 kB) Choose translations of the previous link 

The Charter protects individuals and legal entities against actions by the EU institutions that infringe fundamental rights. If this happens, the European Court of Justice has the power to review the legality of the act.

If a national authority violates the Charter when implementing EU law, national judges (under the guidance of the European Court of Justice) have the power to ensure that the Charter is respected.

The European Commission, too, can take an EU country to court for violating fundamental rights when implementing EU law. But it cannot do so when only national law is concerned.

Independently of their obligations under EU law, all EU countries have also made commitments under the European Convention on Human Rightspdf. This means that you can - as a last resort, after exhausting all remedies available to you in your own country - bring an action before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg if an EU country has violated a fundamental right guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. To see whether or not your complaint is admissible, you can consult the admissibility checklist of The European Court of Human Rights.

The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights complements, but does not replace, national constitutional systems or the system of fundamental rights protection guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.

What to do if your case falls outside the scope of EU law

The public authorities (parliament, government and courts) of the EU countries are bound to comply with the Charter of Fundamental Rights only when implementing EU law (i.e. applying EU regulations or decisions or implementing EU directives). Outside the scope of EU law, your fundamental rights are protected by your country's constitution. If you feel that your rights have been violated in a context not covered by EU law, you will need to address your complaint to the relevant national authority, be it the government, the national courts or a specialised human rights body.

Find out more about protecting your fundamental rights at national level (European e-Justice Portal).