Strategy to ensure the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights – encapsulating civic, personal, economic, and social rights – is adhered to across the bloc.
The Charter is based on the universal rights captured in the constitutional and legal traditions of member countries, case-law of the European Court of Justice, the European Convention on Human Rights and other international human rights agreements.
It covers themes that concern us all: dignity, justice, freedom and equality. As well as traditional rights – like equality between men and women and child protection – it also includes modern ideals such as data protection and bioethics and transparent public administration.
The commission's strategy aims to ensure the bloc’s members follow the Charter when applying EU law. If a country does not comply, the commission could take legal action.
EU policy-makers will now have a standard checklist to assess how proposed legislation could impact the fundamental rights of citizens.
Annual reports will take stock of the strategy’s progress and monitor how countries are respecting the Charter. The reports will be based on information provided by NGOs, rights agencies, EU institutions, courts and national authorities. The first report is due in spring 2011.
Another key part of the strategy is to help ordinary people better understand their rights, including where they can turn for help. A new internet site – the ‘e-Justice portal’ – will be a first port of call for citizens with complaints related to their rights under EU law.
The over-arching aim of the strategy is to ensure EU law crafts a culture of common fundamental rights that is shared across the bloc.
The origins of the Charter date back to 2000, but its contents only became legally binding in December 2009, when the Lisbon Treaty came into force.