Legal frameworks

A strong legal framework – at international, EU and national levels - is what distinguishes fundamental rights from other ethical and political considerations.

All levels and sectors of government are bound to comply with the fundamental rights provisions defined in national, EU and international law.

To ensure that fundamental rights activities are in line with the legal framework, the following steps are recommended: 

  1. Identify applicable fundamental rights-related provisions in national legislation.
  2. Screen related EU and international norms.
  3. Seek legal advice in order to validate the legal framework.

When putting forward a fundamental rights initiative (e.g. a project or policy proposal), make an explicit reference to this legal framework in the related justification. This should refer to all pieces of legislation that were identified.

The way in which fundamental rights are protected in national systems across the EU varies from Member State to Member State. Despite these differences, a strong common core of fundamental rights exists across the EU:

  • All EU Member States are parties to the European Convention on Human Rights, and other Council of Europe conventions.
  • EU Member States are also parties to a number of UN human rights treaties.
  • This consensus finds a strong expression in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which is binding for the EU and its Member States when implementing EU law.