Did you know that as an EU citizen your fundamental rights are not only guaranteed through your national constitution or laws but also by the EU?
Your fundamental rights are set out in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which was first declared in 2000 and entered into force in December 2009 with the Lisbon Treaty. The Charter is the EU’s bill of human rights and it brings together the most important personal freedoms and rights enjoyed by citizens of the EU into one legally binding document. It contains 50 articles with substantive rights and principles, followed by four articles with general provisions, which have to be respected and promoted by EU institutions and Member States whenever they act within EU law.
To raise awareness about the importance of the Charter of Fundamental Rights for citizens Debating Europe teamed up with the municipalities of Genoa (Italy), Gijon (Spain), Nürnberg (Germany), Alba Iulia (Romania) and “1 Decembrie 1918” University, Alba Iulia and our sister think tank Friends of Europe (Brussels) for the EURIGHT project. The EURIGHT project aims to inform citizens about their rights under the Charter of Fundamental Rights and promote debate among citizens, with politicians, stakeholders and the European institutions about the position of the Charter in the global framework of the European Project.
Learn more about the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights on our EURIGHT website and test your knowledge on the Charter in our free online course!
What do our readers think?
You sent us YOUR questions and comments on the Charter of Fundamental Rights and we forwarded them to a human rights lawyer and a politician. You can find their answers in the video above!
- Maite Pagazaurtundúa is a Spanish politician and human rights activist. She is a member of the European Parliament (Renew Europe) and serves as Vice-Chair of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.
- Gabriel Toggenburg is a human rights lawyer and coordinates the activities related to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union Agency For Fundamental Rights, which assists the relevant institutions, offices and agencies of the EU and its Member States in the implementation of EU law relating to fundamental rights.
Our reader João thinks that “Dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights” are the most important values of the EU and he links them to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. He asks:
What exactly is the Charter of Fundamental rights of the EU? What are its core content and principles?
You can watch MEP Maite Pagazaurtundúa and Fundamental Rights Agency expert Gabriel Toggenburg‘s answers in the video at the top of the page!
In a comment sent in by our user Peter, he expresses his confusion about the existing laws and instruments of the EU. He asks:
How does the “Charter of Fundamental rights of the EU” differ from national constitutions and other Human Rights conventions?
How would Maite Pagazaurtundúa, Vice-Chair of the LIBE-committee, and human rights lawyer Gabriel Toggenburg answer Peter? You can watch their reaction in the video at the top of the page!
Our user Proinsias sent us this comment:
The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union is perhaps imperfect, but it provides the citizen, when engaged in litigation with the State, with an important safeguard.
How can the Charter help citizens? And how can they apply it? You can watch MEP Maite Pagazaurtundúa and Fundamental Rights Agency expert Gabriel Toggenburg‘s response to Proinsias’ comment in the video at the top of the page!
Christina says that for her respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights as established by the Charter of Fundamental Rights are what should define the EU. But she points out that these principles are violated too often, for example by the Hungarian government.
What defines the EU? For me, it is upholding European values, respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights as laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights.The EU needs to do much more for the respect of fundamental rights and take action against member states that violate them.
Do Maite Pagazaurtundúa, Vice-Chair of the LIBE-committee, and human rights lawyer Gabriel Toggenburg agree with Christina? You can watch their reaction in the video at the top of the page!
How important is the Charter of Fundamental Rights for EU citizens?
What exactly is the Charter of Fundamental Rights? What differentiates it from other fundamental rights conventions? And how can the Charter help citizens? Let us know what YOU think and comment below!
The 2000 EU Charter of Fundamental Rights- as advertised- is not important to me- being 1st a National & 2nd an EU citizen! Why?
* Any supranational and political organisation like the EU is voluntary and based on conditionality.
* Its lifecycle could be finite, and it could dissolve and disappear with all its laws & regulations by consensus with the stroke of a pen by its 27 Members- unlike the UN 193 Members.
Further, I question its political agenda, the need and the desirability by any supranational organisation- apart from the UN- to augment, extend, supersede, or create (deliberate) confusion about the validity and sufficiency of the 30 original basic UDHR Articles as set out below:
“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 (General Assembly resolution 217 A) as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations.”
These 30 simple UN Articles can be found below:
Special mention- Article 19- freedom of opinion and expression.
“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
E.g.- Should my comments (past & present) be deemed undesired by the DE/EU- they will just breach Article 19 and not publish my opinion!
Nobody in the DE/EU will care or protect me- under UN Article 19- will they?
Quote- Article 30
“Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.”
We ALL inherited basic human guidelines- by way of the 10 ancient Commandments and the 30 UDHR Articles- what more is needed?
That’s enough for me!
Sounds good! I wish more use was made of it to prevent even more democratic sliding in the EU…
all this things doesnt matter when our politician dont follow!
This is probably the most important legal element that governs EU states! However, to be effective, it is of vital importance that communication is easily achieved in a forum like this one.