Sunday, 3 May 2009

Monitoring the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights

The first Convention prepared the Charter of Fungamental Rights of the European Union, and it was solemnly adopted as politically binding at the European Council in Nice, in December 2000.

Later it was incorporated into the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, as Part II, and published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) 16.12.2004 C 310.

When the ratification processes of the Constitutional Treaty had petered out, the Treaty of Lisbon proposed to make the Charter legally binding, but the text was published separately, OJEU 14.12.2007 C 303/1.

Cf. Article 6 of the amended Treaty on European Union, OJEU 9.5.2008 C 115/19.

In other words, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights enters into force if the Lisbon Treaty does, but one should bear in mind that the United Kingdom and Poland opted out of the Charter. (The UK has embarked upon a disconnected exercise to craft a national Bill of Rights.)

The differences between the versions are small, so if you have no need for a certain version, it is convenient to use the latest one.



The Commission, which drafts legislative proposals, systematically check them against fundamental rights.

The Commission has now published an appraisal of its monitoring activities: The Report on the practical operation of the methodology for a systematic and rigorous monitoring of compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights (Brussels, 29.4.2009 COM(2009) 205 final).

The Commission stresses the growing importance of fundamental rights issues in the area of justice, freedom and security (page 3), and it names the so called asylum package as a case in point. The obligations are not only procedural, but substantive as well.

The Commission then goes on to discuss improvements to the monitoring process.

The Commission concludes by underlining the need to foster a fundamental rights culture and that the respect for fundamental rights must be a common goal of all the institutions involved in the legislative process.

Ralf Grahn