The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights on its 10th anniversary: views of civil society and national human rights institutions

The Charter is most effective, and has a real impact on people’s lives, when parliaments, governments and courts at local, regional and national levels all actively apply it. The national sphere is particularly relevant. A strong fundamental rights architecture and committed national governments and parliaments are key to letting the Charter unfold its potential at this level. Civil society organisations (CSOs) and national human rights institutions (NHRIs) are also crucial given their contributions to the protection and promotion of Charter rights.

But, 10 years after it became legally binding, the Charter’s potential is not being fully realised at national level, a new consultation by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) underscores. The consultation confirms FRA’s assessment in its Fundamental Rights Report 2019 that more needs to be done to promote the Charter’s use.

More specifically, the consultation – which reached out to CSOs that participate in the agency’s Fundamental Rights Platform and are active in the area of human rights – shows that CSOs themselves do not make sufficient use of the Charter. Moreover, few CSOs are aware of government policies promoting the Charter’s implementation. They see training as key to improving the situation – a view shared by EU-based NHRIs separately interviewed by FRA. Many civil society organisations also believe that implementation at national level could be strengthened through more funding, stricter monitoring and better outreach by the EU to national actors.