Focus - Mainstreaming fundamental rights: turning words into action

To strengthen the European Union’s evidence base on fundamental rights helps to identify how these rights are respected and promoted, not only ‘on paper’ but ‘on the ground’. Fundamental rights are part of the founding values of the European Union (EU) that are minimum standards to which the EU’s institutions and Member States are held accountable and which they should respect and promote. Mainstreaming fundamental rights can help turning words into action, especially if linked to relevant indicators.

FRA has therefore developed rights-based indicator frameworks in areas of its competence, such as for the rights of the child, Roma and persons with disabilities. This allows to assess the status and outcomes of efforts to implement policy goals and policy cycles such as the European Semester. Using these rights-based indicators to assess whether specific actions or measures have reached their targets could facilitate a better understanding of drivers and barriers in policy implementation. From a fundamental rights perspective, this will allow for better law making and render policymaking more transparent while also holding policymakers accountable for their actions. In the long run, this will strengthen democratic legitimacy and entrench a fundamental rights culture in whatever the EU does.

FRA conclusions

Strengthening the EU’s evidence base with a clear focus on fundamental rights would help identify how rights are respected and promoted, not only ‘on paper’ but ‘on the ground’, through concrete measures and reforms.
  • The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU puts flesh on the bones of all the values that are listed in Article 2 of the Treaty of the EU and shared between the EU and its Member States. Further operationalising the commitment to the Charter could contribute to resolving the ‘Copenhagen dilemma’: bridging the artificial separation between the EU’s value commitment vis-à-vis third and enlargement countries on the one hand and its Member States on the other.
  • Fundamental rights indicators can help to further entrench a fundamental rights culture in whatever the EU does so that it can lead by example.

Back to top