Fundamental rights as shared values of the European Union and as solemn declarations are all very well, but how about their practical effects?
There is, clearly, rising awareness within the EU institutions of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
The Commission of the European Communities monitors compliance of its legislative proposals with fundamental rights according to the principles the Commission adopted in its 27 April 2005 Communication: Compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights in Commission legislative proposals – Methodology for systematic and rigorous monitoring, COM(2005) 172 final.
The Commission has integrated fundamental rights scrutiny into the pre-existing instrument of impact assessment, which looks at economic, social and environmental impacts of proposals.
Proposals with a special link with fundamental rights have a special recital, which formally state that they respect fundamental rights.
Further reasons may be given in an explanatory memorandum which accompanies the proposal.
Generally, the Commission guidelines have been welcomed, but many human rights activists have pointed out that fundamental rights ought to be made a fourth category (heading) in impact assessments, since economic, social or environmental aspects do not necessarily catch these aspects.
The interested reader can find an intelligent discussion in the House of Lords European Union Committee’s report: Human Rights Proofing EU Legislation (16th Report of Session 2005-06).