6 June 2019

European Commission publishes report on EU Charter of Fundamental Rights implementation

EFC/DAFNE involved in working on more guidance

On 5th June 2019, the EC has published its report on the implementation of the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights by the EU institutions and the Member States, taking the opportunity of the Charter’s 10th anniversary. The report shows that EU policy-makers are aware of its importance, and references to the EU Charter by the ECJ have increased notably in the past years. Nevertheless, the awareness remains still not strong enough also at the national level, so Vice-President Timmermans and Commissioner Jourová stress the importance of everyone including civil society to be spreading the word about the Charter, as it is the key instrument to make our rights, freedoms and values, a reality in our lives. Initiatives to promote and use the charter are highlighted in the report.

The report supports our Philanthropy efforts for a better recognition and enablement of Philanthropy since it clearly states that there can be no effective fundamental rights protection without vibrant civil society organisations and rights defenders. In 2018, the Commission took legal action to ensure that civil society organisations can work safely and independently. The situation of civil society organisations was at the heart of the Commission’s 2018 Colloquium on fundamental rights at which DAFNE/EFC were present. In May 2018, the Commission put forward a proposal for a Justice, Rights and Values Fund providing further support for civil society organisations active in the protection and promotion of Charter rights, which is something DAFNE/EFC have been calling for.

The report clarifies that the Charter is addressed to Member States only when they are implementing EU law, as set out in its Article 51. Infringement procedures based on the Charter can therefore only be triggered when a sufficient link to EU law is established. This sometimes turns out to be challenging and EFC/DAFNE are involved in working with ECNL and others on some guidance for the sector on this. In 2018, the Commission took action with regard to the following countries relating to the Charter: Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria. Even when acting outside the framework of EU law, Member States must respect the values on which the EU is founded. In particular, respect for the rule of law is a precondition for the protection of fundamental rights. In 2018, the Council held three hearings in relation to the situation of the rule of law in Poland and the European Parliament decided to initiate an Article 7(1) procedure against Hungary.

For further information, you can read the report here. On the same day, the Commission also released a Eurobarometer survey on citizens’ awareness of the Charter, which we encourage anyone to fill in.