Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union

From Academic Kids

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union is a document containing human rights provisions, 'solemnly proclaimed' by the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, and the European Commission in December 2000.

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minibook published by the European Union containing the text of the Charter


After the European Court of Justice decided (Opinion 2/94 (!celexplus!prod!CELEXnumdoc&numdoc=61994V0002&lg=EN) "Accession by the Community to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms" of 28 March 1996) that, in essence, the treaties establishing the European Community do not empower it to accede to the European Convention on Human Rights (this despite all member states being signatories), the aforementioned three institutions of the European Union decided that this is the appropriate format (for the moment) of presenting the fundamental principles of human rights for the Union.


As it stands, the Charter is not a treaty, constitutional, or legal document, and has the ambiguous value of a 'solemn proclamation' by three of the Union's most important institutions. Its text is mainly in harmony with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights, and therefore can be taken as a confirmation of the pre-existing rights contained therein by the institutions, while adding widely-accepted principles such as the 'right' to good administration, workers' social rights, and bioethics. The origin of the Charter's 'power' is unlikely to be beyond that the proclaiming institutions (and other related institutions such as the European Court of Justice) are going to contradict the Charter and that common law, Community law, and case law are generally in harmony with it. It does not have the status of Community law; therefore, cases cannot be brought solely on the ground of a contradiction against the Charter.


The proposed Treaty establishing a constitution for Europe signed in October 2004 contains a version of the Charter as Part II. In addition, if and when the treaty comes into effect, it would instruct the European Union to accede to the European Convention on Human Rights. The European Court of Justice is likely to be able to rule on the basis of this Charter.

Notable provisions

The Charter is organized into 6 titles: dignity, freedoms, equality, solidarity, citizens' rights, and justice. The second, third, and fourth rubrics reflect the three generations of human rights after Karel Vasak.

  • (Article 3) Prohibition of reproductive cloning of human beings
  • (Article 53) 'Nothing in this Charter shall be interpreted as restricting or adversely affecting human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognised, in their respective fields of application, by Union law and international law and by international agreements to which the Union, the Community or all the Member States are party, including the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and by the Member States' constitutions.'

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