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Why do we need the Charter?

The Charter of Fundamental Rights, what it covers and how it relates to the European Convention on Human Rights.


The EU is built on fundamental rights, democracy and the rule of law. Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union provides that “The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail”.

These values are closely linked and guide the EU’s internal and external action.

EU action in this area is based on the EU Treaties and on the EU Charter of fundamental rights, which has the same value as the Treaties. The Charter enshrines the fundamental rights people enjoy in the EU. It is a modern and comprehensive instrument protecting and promoting people’s rights and freedoms in the light of changes in society, social progress and scientific and technological developments.

The Charter applies in conjunction with national and international fundamental rights protection systems, including the European Convention on Human Rights.

    What it covers

    The Charter contains rights and freedoms under six titles:

    • dignity
    • freedoms
    • equality
    • solidarity
    • citizens' rights
    • justice

    The Charter has become legally binding on the EU with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, in December 2009.

    To reflect modern society, the Charter includes 'third generation' fundamental rights, such as:

    • data protection
    • guarantees on bioethics
    • transparent administration

    Rights of the child

    The promotion and protection of the rights of the child are two key objectives of the EU on which the Treaty of Lisbon has put further emphasis.

    By enshrining the rights of the child, the Charter:

    • recognises that EU policies which directly or indirectly affect children must be designed, implemented and monitored taking into account the principle of the best interests of the child

    • guarantees the right to such protection and care as is necessary for the well-being of children

    • recognises the need to protect children from abuse, neglect and violations of their rights, and situations which endanger their well-being

    In line with the implementation of the Charter, the European Commission is promoting the fight against racism and xenophobia, homophobia and the protection of persons belonging to minorities.

    Convention on human rights

    The Charter is consistent with the European convention on human rights. When the Charter contains rights that stem from this convention, their meaning and scope are the same

    The Charter strengthens the protection of fundamental rights by making those rights more visible and more explicit for citizens.

    In 2010, the European Commission adopted a strategy to monitor and ensure the effective implementation of the rights and freedoms in the Charter.