First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: "Fundamental rights are the foundation of our European Union and our communities. In recent times, they have come under pressure because of a rise of intolerance, xenophobia and hate speech. In light of these challenges, it is vital that we uphold democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law. The rights enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights play a pivotal role in this respect. We must continue to work to make sure that they are a reality for everyone across Europe."
EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender equality, Věra Jourová underlines ". If we want to truly achieve an area of freedom, security and justice, we need to actively promote our fundamental rights and raise the level of actual protection throughout the EU. This year the EU has taken concrete steps to strengthen fundamental rights, for instance by finalising the data protection reform and new rules on safeguards for children in criminal proceedings and by stepping up the fight against incitement to hatred. Fundamental rights exist not only on paper but must be delivered in practice. Our citizens demand it."
The report notes that in 2015 a number of legislative projects that promote fundamental rights have been brought forward, including amongst others the Data Protection reform package, the Directive on special safeguards for children in criminal proceedings or the Victims' Rights Directive. It explains how the European Commission has taken into account the Charter in its legislative and policy work in 2015, such as the measures put forward to better manage migration at EU level (European Agenda on Migration) or to reinforce security (European Agenda on Security). Finally, it provides examples of how the Charter was applied by the European Court of Justice and presents the main developments of the case law.
This year's report also includes a special focus on the first Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights which took place in October 2015on ‘Tolerance and respect: preventing and combating Antisemitic and anti-Muslim hatred in Europe’, and takes stock of the key actions that the Commission has put into into place.
At the second Annual Colloquium on "Media Pluralism and Democracy", which will be held in Brussels on 17 and 18 November 2016, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, together with Commissioner Günther Oettinger and Commissioner Vera Jourová, will discuss the key role of a free and pluralist media, and in particular digital media in democratic societies. The Commission has today published a public consultation that will feed into discussions of the Colloquium.
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 provisions of the Charter are primarily addressed to the EU institutions and then to the national authorities only when they are implementing EU law.
The Commission is working with the relevant authorities at national, local and EU level to better inform people about their fundamental rights and where to find help if their rights have been infringed. The Commission provides practical information on these 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.
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Public Consultation to feed into 2016 Colloquium