FRA speaks on the use of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in EU Member States

Netherlands EU Presidency logo
Netherlands EU Presidency logo
On 19 February, FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty took part in an expert seminar on the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU at national level, organised by the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Speaking after Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova emphasised the importance of screening draft national legislation for compatibility with the Charter, the Director underlined the particular significance of the Charter in the current fundamental rights climate:

“The number and scale of fundamental rights challenges facing the EU at present can hardly be exaggerated,” he said. “The predicament of refugees risking their lives to reach the EU has worsened, and at the same time security fears have increased. This makes the Charter and an understanding of the values it enshrines ever more important. Because the Charter is more than a legal document, far more. It is an ethical compass that can help guide our increasingly diverse societies as they face up to the innumerable human rights challenges that have permeated almost every aspect of our societies.”

The Director went on to discuss FRA’s analysis of the use of the Charter at national level, noting that while it continues to be used in national courtrooms, few national-level policies have been developed that proactively promote the rights set out in the Charter, although this is a legal obligation. There are also a number of gaps in the communication and implementation of the Charter, he said.

He closed by reminding participants that “implementing the Charter isn’t about ticking boxes on a piece of paper, but about human lives.”

Today also saw the launch of a new version of the FRA’s Charter app, which provides easy access to information in mobile-friendly format about the EU’s fundamental rights framework, including the full text and legal explanations of the Charter articles, related EU and national case law, and related FRA publications. The updated Charter app can be downloaded for both iOS (Apple) and Android mobile devices from the respective app stores.