Respect for human rights and dignity is one of the core values of the European Union (EU) enshrined in the Treaties. Together with the principles of freedom, democracy, equality and rule of law, it guides EU action inside as well as outside the EU’s borders. In particular, action in this field focuses on combating discrimination, racism and xenophobia, as well as on protecting vulnerable groups, such as children, women and minorities.
Respect for human rights was confirmed by Member States in the preamble to the 1986 Single Act. It was later incorporated into Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union, which is based on the Council of Europe Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the shared constitutional traditions of Member States. Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union asserts respect for human rights within the EU’s external actions.
The Charter of Fundamental Rights further defines the rights applicable at the EU level, in particular relating to dignity, freedom, equality, citizens’ rights and justice. It was proclaimed at the Nice European Council in December 2000 and has today the same legally binding values as the Treaties.
The European Fundamental Rights Agency monitors respect for the core values of the EU and assists in implementing EU law on fundamental rights.