The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights lists the civil, political, social and economic rights which are recognised by the European Union (EU). These are listed under the headings of Dignity, Freedoms, Equality, Solidarity, Citizens’ Rights, and Justice and there are specific principles which apply to specific groups such as older people, children and people with disabilities. These rights are derived from a number of sources including existing EU law, the Social Charters of the EU and the Council of Europe, the European Convention on Human Rights and the constitutional traditions of the member states.
All the member states have ratified the European Convention on Human Rights. The Treaty of Lisbon allows for the EU itself to accede to that Convention.
The Treaty of Lisbon gives the Charter the same legal value as the main treaties. The Charter applies to the EU institutions and to the member states when they are implementing EU law. The Charter does not extend the application of EU law or give the EU any new area of competence.
The main rights set out in the Charter are as follows:
This heading covers human dignity, the right to life, the right to integrity of the person, the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the prohibition of slavery and forced labour.
This heading includes the right to liberty and security; respect for private and family life; the protection of personal data; the right to marry and have a family; freedom of thought, conscience and religion; freedom of expression and information; freedom of assembly and association; freedom of the arts and sciences; the right to education; the freedom to choose an occupation and the right to engage in work; the freedom to conduct a business; the right to property; the right to asylum; and protection in the event of removal, expulsion or extradition.
This heading covers equality before the law; non-discrimination; cultural, religious and linguistic diversity; equality between women and men; the rights of the child; the rights of older people; the integration of people with disabilities.
This heading covers workers’ right to information and consultation within the undertaking; the right of collective bargaining and action; the right of access to placement services; protection in the event of unjustified dismissal; fair and just working conditions; the prohibition of child labour and the protection of young people at work; family and professional life; social security and social assistance; health care; access to services of general economic interest; environmental protection; and consumer protection.
This heading covers the right to vote and to stand as a candidate at elections to the European Parliament; the right to vote and to stand as a candidate at local elections; the right to good administration; the right of access to documents; the European Ombudsman; the right to petition the European Parliament; freedom of movement and of residence; and diplomatic and consular protection.
This heading covers the right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial; the presumption of innocence and the right of defence; the principles of the legality and proportionality of criminal offences and penalties; and the right not to be tried or punished twice in criminal proceedings for the same criminal offence.
information on the Charter is available on the European Commission's
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.