The 2014 report on the application of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights was published today by the European Commission.
First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: "The Charter of fundamental rights lies at the heart of our Union and the Commission is committed to ensuring its full and effective application. Fundamental rights embody the values of a free, open and inclusive society, and we all share a responsibility to safeguard and promote them in all we do, every day. Our first Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights in October will raise awareness with a particular focus on encouraging tolerance and respect."
Věra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender equality, said:" It is our duty to make sure that the fundamental values enshrined in the treaties and the European Charter of fundamental rights are more than just words. We will work together with the Member States to strengthen political engagement for the promotion and protection of fundamental rights and to raise people's awareness and knowledge of their Charter rights."
The new Commission is committed to ensuring an efficient protection and promotion of fundamental rights in the EU. Moreover, the Commission will organise every year a Colloquium on Fundamental Rights to raise awareness and foster a wider debate. The first Colloquium will take place on 1-2 October 2015 and will focus on promoting tolerance and respect, with particular attention on preventing and combating anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim hatred.
For the first time, the 2014 report includes a section on the important emerging issue of fundamental rights in the digital sphere. The digital revolution has created opportunities for all: businesses, citizens, and society as a whole. But it has also raised concerns over the effective protection of fundamental rights within this environment.Everyone has the right to protection of their fundamental rights online as well as offline. In particular, this includes the protection of personal data, as guaranteed by Article 8 of the Charter.
The European Union Courts have increasingly referred to the Charter in their decisions during the course of 2014. In 2014, 210 decisions in EU Courts referenced the Charter, compared with 114 in 2013, 97 in 2012, and 43 in 2011. This is an important step forward to build a more coherent system for the protection of fundamental rights, which guarantees equal levels of protection in all Member States, whenever EU law is being implemented.
National judges also play a key role in upholding fundamental rights and the rule of law. In 2014, Member State national courts referred to the Charter for guidance and inspiration in an increasing number of cases.
With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union became legally binding. The Charter sets out fundamental rights – such as freedom of expression and the protection of personal data – that reflect Europe’s common values and its constitutional heritage.
In October 2010, the Commission adopted a strategy to ensure that the Charter is effectively implemented. Among other measures to ensure the correct application of the Charter, the Commission committed to publishing an Annual Report on the Charter’s application to monitor the progress achieved.
A Eurobarometer published today shows that, while there is a general awareness of the Charter (65% of respondents have heard of it), few citizens feel they know what it is (14%). 64% of respondents would like to have more information about the Charter.
The Commission is working with the relevant authorities at national, regional and local, as well as at EU level to better inform people about their fundamental rights and where to go for help if they feel their rights have been infringed. The Commission now provides practical information on enforcing one's rights via the European e-Justice portal and has set up a dialogue on handling fundamental rights complaints with ombudsmen, equality bodies and human rights institutions.
For more information:
Eurobarometer on the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights