EU values are common to EU countries and ensure a society in which pluralism, tolerance, justice, solidarity, non-discrimination and equality prevail. They are enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty of European Union. The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union sets out all the personal, civic, political, economic and social rights enjoyed by people in the European Union.
The Charter complements national systems but does not replace them. If individuals’ fundamental rights are not respected, national courts must decide on the issue. Individuals may also apply to the European Court of Human Rights which rules on violations of civil and political rights set out in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. In specific cases, when a Member State does not comply with EU law and breaches someone’s rights, the European Commission may also bring a Member State to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights is the EU’s specialised independent body in this area, with a mandate that covers the full scope of rights laid out in the Charter.
European Values: Challenges and Opportunities for EU
The EU values are common to the EU countries in a society in which inclusion, tolerance, justice, solidarity and non-discrimination prevail. These values are an integral part of our European way of life:
Human dignity Human dignity is inviolable. It must be respected, protected and constitutes the real basis of fundamental rights.
Freedom Freedom of movement gives citizens the right to move and reside freely within the Union. Individual freedoms such as respect for private life, freedom of thought, religion, assembly, expression and information are protected by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Democracy The functioning of the EU is founded on representative democracy. Being a European citizen also means enjoying political rights. Every adult EU citizen has the right to stand as a candidate and to vote in elections to the European Parliament. EU citizens have the right to stand as candidate and to vote in their country of residence, or in their country of origin.
Equality Equality is about equal rights for all citizens before the law. The principle of equality between women and men underpins all European policies and is the basis for European integration. It applies in all areas. The principle of equal pay for equal work became part of the Treaty of Rome in 1957. Although inequalities still exist, the EU has made significant progress.
Rule of law The EU is based on the rule of law. Everything the EU does is founded on treaties, voluntarily and democratically agreed by its EU countries. Law and justice are upheld by an independent judiciary. The EU countries gave final jurisdiction to the European Court of Justice which judgements have to be respected by all.
Human rights Human rights are protected by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. These cover the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, the right to the protection of your personal data, and the right to get access to justice.
The European Parliament is fully committed to the respect for fundamental rights throughout the Union. Following up on the work of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, MEPs discuss and adopt resolutions in the European Parliament’s plenary sessions on the situation of fundamental rights in the EU. Also on specific issues concerning the protection of these rights in the Member States.
Together with the Council of the EU, the European Parliament adopts legislation to better protect fundamental rights. One good example of this legislation is the body of laws that the European Parliament has adopted to prohibit discrimination. Also ensures that people are treated equally at work.
Another important achievement has been protecting privacy . In addition it makes sure that the processing of personal data is carried out in full respect of the Union legislation adopted to protect this fundamental right. Member States have to apply these laws at national level.
In the recent years European Parliament is also engaging more in matters concerning the rule of law and democracy. In 2016 European Parliament adopted a resolution advocating for an EU mechanism on the situation of democracy. Also the rule of law and fundamental rights in the Member States and EU institutions.