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Putting the Charter of Fundamental Rights into practice

Putting the Charter of Fundamental Rights into practice


Commission communication (COM(2010) 573 final) – Strategy for the effective implementation of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights



  • It presents the European Commission’s strategy for effectively applying the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.
  • It reflects on the role of fundamental rights in the legislative process, including in the Commission’s methodology for preparing new legislation, and in the implementation of EU law.


With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009, the Charter of Fundamental Rights became legally binding. This new status of the charter served to strengthen the EU’s action on respect for fundamental rights.

Given that the aim of the Commission’s strategy is to ensure the effective application of the fundamental rights set out in the charter, the EU itself must be an example in order to:

  • enable people living in the EU to enjoy the rights enshrined in the charter;
  • build mutual trust between EU countries;
  • build public confidence in EU policies;
  • improve credibility of EU external action on human rights.

A fundamental rights culture in the Commission

The Commission makes regular checks to ensure that its legislative proposals and acts are compatible with the charter. Nevertheless, it must strengthen these checks within the departments drawing up the proposals and acts, introducing ‘a culture of fundamental rights’ into all stages of the procedure. This is especially important for evaluating the necessity for and proportionality of the proposals, in particular as some rights are absolute (e.g. human dignity, ban on torture, etc.), while some may, under certain circumstances, be subject to limitations.

The Commission has a methodology for ensuring that systematic and thorough checks are carried out regarding respect for fundamental rights in proposals during:

  • preparatory consultations;
  • impact assessments (in 2011, the Commission issued guidelines on taking fundamental rights into account in these assessments);
  • preparation of draft acts.

The Commission also carries out checks to ensure that the charter is reflected in ex post evaluations of EU instruments. It seeks to ensure that efforts are made to better apply the methodology in practice. It pays particular attention to proposals and acts which:

  • raise specific issues of compatibility with the charter, or
  • aim at promoting a specific fundamental right protected by the charter.

The charter and the legislative process

The Commission’s methodology only applies to the preparatory stage of the legislative process. Its proposals may be amended by the Council or the European Parliament without systematic checks being carried out on the amendments’ impact on and compatibility with fundamental rights. Consequently, the Commission is willing to assist the other institutions in reviewing their amendments against the charter. In cases where amendments to its proposal do not sufficiently guarantee respect for fundamental rights, the Commission can signal its opposition to the lowering of protection standards and take action, including, where applicable, withdraw its proposal. Any draft amendments that may be incompatible with the charter must be dealt with through discussions between the institutions.

The charter and EU countries

EU countries have an obligation to comply with the charter only when implementing EU law. The Commission seeks to take steps to enforce respect for fundamental rights in EU countries by:

  • reminding them of this obligation and assisting them in the correct implementation of EU law;
  • launching infringement procedures against an EU country in breach of this obligation.

Information to the public

The public need to be kept well informed of their rights as enshrined in the charter and of ways to enforce these rights if they are violated, in particular as regards defending the rights of the child. It is essential that the public are aware of the legal remedies available and that they have all the appropriate information they need to seek redress (e.g. compensation). Therefore, the Commission seeks to take targeted and tailored measures to tackle any difficulties relating to communication, such as:

  • further information activities on the EU’s role and powers in fundamental rights;
  • actions to ensure that practical information on existing legal remedies is available, in particular through the e-justice portal.

Annual reports on the application of the charter

To review progress in implementing the charter and to provide for regular exchanges of views with the European Parliament and the Council, the Commission draws up annual reports on the application of the charter. These are prepared in close collaboration with all institutions and relevant stakeholders.


More information is available on the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights website


Communication from the Commission: Strategy for the effective implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights by the European Union (COM(2010) 573 final of 19 October 2010)


Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union — Table of Contents (OJ C 326, 26.10.2012, p. 392)

Commission Staff Working Paper: Operational Guidance on taking account of Fundamental Rights in Commission Impact Assessments (SEC(2011) 567 final of 6.5.2011)

last update 28.06.2016