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Human rights

The term ‘fundamental rights’ is used in a constitutional context in the European Union to express the concept of ‘human rights’ which is the term used in international law.

Respect for human rights and dignity is one of the EU's core values. Together with the principles of freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law, it guides EU action both within and beyond its borders.

Action in this field mainly focuses on:

  • fighting discrimination, racism and xenophobia;
  • protecting vulnerable groups, such as children, women and minorities.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights brings together in a single document the fundamental rights protected in the EU. It applies to the EU institutions, subject to the principle of subsidiarity, and cannot extend the powers and tasks conferred upon them by the treaties. It also applies to EU countries when they implement EU law.

Based on the Council of Europe Convention on Human Rights, and originally proclaimed in 2000, the Charter became legally binding on the EU with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, in December 2009.