“The Charter is a reflection of our common values and constitutional heritage,” said Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. “The Charter must be the compass for all EU policies. The European Commission, and notably its Justice Department, will be very vigilant in ensuring that the Charter is upheld in all proposals for EU legislation, in all amendments introduced by the Council and by the European Parliament, as well as by Member States when they implement EU laws. The strategy adopted by the Commission today is an important step in creating a European fundamental rights culture.”
Under the strategy, the Commission explains the steps it can take to ensure
that the EU has an exemplary fundamental rights record and to improve
the public’s understanding of fundamental rights protection in Europe by:
1. Guaranteeing that the EU is beyond reproach in upholding fundamental rights
proposals for EU legislation must respect the Charter. The Commission
will therefore reinforce its assessment of the impact of new legislative
proposals on fundamental rights. On the basis of a fundamental rights
“check list,” the Commission services will identify which fundamental
rights could be affected by a proposal and assess systematically the
impact on these rights of each envisaged policy option.
the legislative process, including final compromises in the European
Parliament and the Council, the Commission will work with the
co-legislators to ensure that EU law is in line with the Charter. The
Commission will launch an inter-institutional dialogue to determine
methods for dealing with amendments that raise questions of
compatibility with fundamental rights.
Member States 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 will use all
tools available, including infringement proceedings when necessary, to
ensure compliance with the Charter in the implementation of EU law.
2. Improving information for citizens
should know where they can turn for assistance in cases of violations
of fundamental rights. They will have access to information about legal
remedies in all Member States through the Commission’s new e-Justice portal in 2011.
Commission will explain when it can and cannot intervene on 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). Member States have their own systems
for protecting fundamental rights through national constitutions and
courts; the Charter is not a replacement for them. It is therefore in
the first place up to national courts to ensure respect for fundamental
3. Monitoring progress
Commission will publish an Annual Report on the application of the
Charter. The report will monitor progress in the areas where the EU has
powers to act: showing how the Charter has been taken into account in
concrete cases (such as when new legislation is proposed). It will
provide an opportunity for an annual exchange of views with the European
Parliament and the Council and act as a vehicle for improving the
information for the public.
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