European Commission publishes Annual Report on the application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights

From national implementation in EU Member States to the Charter’s legislative use in policymaking and in the courts, the European Commission’s Annual Report, accompanying Staff Working Document and Annual Colloquium give overviews of all actions taken by the EU during 2015 that relate to the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

In the Annual Report, the EU highlights their obligation to mainstream fundamental rights in all actions, policies and legislation. Importantly, their commitment to accede to the Council of Europe’s European Convention on Human Rights to “strengthen fundamental values, improve the effectiveness of EU law and extend the consistency of fundamental rights protection in Europe” is also reiterated, demonstrating the importance of this partnership.

Because of their obligation to mainstream fundamental rights, EU legislation in which the Charter has been taken into account is plentiful. It includes such acts as the Victims’ Rights Directive and the Directive on Terrorism, as well as international agreements, such as the EU-US Data Protection ‘Umbrella Agreement’. All of these actions are subject to scrutiny by the Court of Justice of the EU, which in 2015 declared the invalidity of one piece of legislation on the basis of the Charter. Member States also have their compliance monitored by the Court and the European Commission. These processes together ensure that the Charter is used appropriately at EU and national levels.

The Staff Working Document includes references to provisions of the Charter that are relevant to the protection and promotion of older persons’ rights, but lacks a comprehensive and in-depth reflection of EU action in this area. Under article 21 (non-discrimination) the report cites the proposed Horizontal Anti-Discrimination Directive as being a priority for President Juncker, and praises the 2015 Eurobarometer on Discrimination in the EU as being an integral part of developing more and better-targeted equality policies. Under article 25 (rights of the elderly) the EU observes the importance of taking a human rights-based approach when addressing the situation of older persons, with particular regard paid to the high potential for multiple discriminations. Unlike with other grounds, however, it does not list related EU action in this area, despite noting that discrimination on the grounds of age is the most widespread form of inequality in the labour market. The document also focuses on the achievements of the EU’s implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, theEuropean Accessibility Act and the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020.

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