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The protection of fundamental rights in the EU

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Back in December 2000, the Nice European Council adopted the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which was initiated largely on Germany’s initiative. The Charter made the significance and scope of EU fundamental rights more visible and comprehensible to EU citizens.

European Charter of Fundamental Rights
European Charter of Fundamental Rights© Council of the EU

The Charter became legally binding when the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force. Organs and other EU agencies, as well as the member states, are now bound by the Charter when implementing EU law.

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights began operations in 2007. The Agency’s task is to support the relevant organs, institutions, offices and agencies of the EU and its member states in implementing EU law in relation to fundamental rights.

Furthermore, the EU took up a German proposal and launched a process in the Council that makes it easier to verify compliance with rule of law standards in the member states.

Article 6 of the Treaty of Lisbon sets forth the Union’s obligation to accede to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). On accession, the Convention will become legally binding for the EU’s organs, institutions and other agencies in the exercise of their competences. For the first time, it will be possible for citizens to lodge complaints against the EU with the European Court of Human Rights. Germany supports the EU’s earliest possible accession to the Convention and is calling for a constructive dialogue with all the relevant players.

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