European Commission reports on state of fundamental rights in EU
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    European Commission reports on state of fundamental rights in EU

    The annual report on the application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in 2015 was published today (19 May). The report gives an overview of how fundamental rights have been applied across a range of EU policies and in Member States.

    This is the sixth annual report since the Lisbon Treaty entered into force in 2009 and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union became legally binding.

    “Fundamental rights are the foundation of our European Union and our communities,” said Frans Timmermans, first Vice-President of the European Commission. “In recent times, they have come under pressure because of a rise of intolerance, xenophobia and hate speech.”

    “In light of these challenges, it is vital that we uphold democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law. The rights enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights play a pivotal role in this respect.  We must continue to work to make sure that they are a reality for everyone across Europe.”

    The report notes that in 2015 a number of legislative projects that promote fundamental rights have been brought forward, including amongst others the Data Protection reform package, the Directive on special safeguards for children in criminal proceedings or the Victims’ Rights Directive.

    It explains how the European Commission has taken into account the Charter in its legislative and policy work in 2015, such as the measures put forward to better manage migration at EU level (European Agenda on Migration) or to reinforce security (European Agenda on Security). 

    Finally, it provides examples of how the Charter was applied by the European Court of Justice and presents the main developments of the case law.

    Anyone who had hoped to reading more about the state of fundamental rights in individual EU member states will be disappointed.

    The 13 pages long report mentions briefly that the European Commission between September and December 2015 adopted 49 infringement decisions against Member States for inadequate implementation of legislation making up the Common European Asylum System.

    Among others an infringement case was launched against Hungary following changes in its asylum legislation.

    The Commission issued also a complementary letter of formal notice to Greece on reception capacities for applicants for international protection and failure to put in place arrangements to guarantee acceptable living conditions and treatment of unaccompanied children.

    A further case was launched against an unknown Member State for discrimination of Roma children in education.

    This year’s report also includes a special focus on the first Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights which took place in October 2015 onTolerance and respect: preventing and combating Antisemitic and anti-Muslim hatred in Europe”, and takes stock of the key actions that the Commission has put into place.

    A second Annual Colloquium on “Media Pluralism and Democracy” will be held in Brussels on 17 and 18 November 2016. The Commission published today a public consultation that will feed into discussions of the Colloquium.

    The Commission writes at the end of the report that it is committed to a high level of protection of fundamental rights in the EU. “It seeks to ensure that all legislative proposals and actions are fully compatible with the Charter.”

    The Commission also promises to improve cooperation with other EU institutions and agencies, notably the Fundamental Rights Agency, and with the Council of Europe to ensure that fundamental rights are given priority.

    The Brussels Times (Source: The European Commission)