National Policy application of the EU Charter of fundamental rights

National Policy application of the EU Charter of fundamental rights


This seminar was organised by the Netherlands Presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU) in Amsterdam on 19 February 2016 and supported by the European Commission. It explored the opportunities and challenges of applying the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU (Charter) when developing national policy legislation.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union sets out the most important rights of citizens and is legally binding on EU institutions and bodies. The Charter also applies to the actions of member states when they are implementing Union law.

Since the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights became legally binding, a great deal of attention has been paid to the application of the rights it contains in court judgments. The number of cases in which the Court of Justice of the European Union has referred to the Charter has gradually increased from 47 in 2011 to 210 in 2014. So its legal importance is steadily growing. However, it is also important that policymaking and legislative processes in the member states have regard for the rights in the Charter, some of which – such as the right to asylum – are not set out in the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Some of the rights in the Charter are specifically related to the EU, including the right to vote in local elections in the member state of residence.

The Charter sets out a series of individual rights and freedoms. It entrenches all the rights found in the case law of the Court of Justice of the EU, the rights and freedoms enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights and other rights and principles resulting from the common constitutional traditions of EU countries and other international instruments. The Charter is a very modern codification and includes ‘third generation’ fundamental rights, such as data protection, guarantees on bioethics and transparent administration.

The Netherlands Presidency attaches importance to  the correct application of the Charter. The seminar offered a platform for the member states to exchange information and views on the challenges they have faced in applying the Charter and the instruments they have used. Different experiences were presented during the seminar with the aim of identifying whether or not certain practices are successful, and why.

In this report you will read about the ideas that were exchanged on Charter application in chapter two. The third chapter gives a retrospective sketch of the whole day. The fourth chapter reports on the meetings of the four working groups. This report also includes furthermore the programme of the day (p. 15), the schematic overview of article 51 EU Charter situations (abstract conference paper), the Netherlands manual on national application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and a list of the participants of the seminar.

The outcomes of the seminar will be followed up at the meeting of the Council Working Group on Fundamental Rights in Brussels to, be included in the annual conclusions of the Justice and Home Affairs Council on the application of the Charter.

This reports aims to highlight the primary points from the seminar. It  focuses on challenges and opportunities for Charter application at the legislative processes of member states.



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