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Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union

Published December 7, 2000

The European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights was "signed and proclaimed by the Presidents of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission at the European Council meeting in Nice on 7 December 2000.

This Charter is the end-result of a special procedure, which is without precedent in the history of the European Union and may be summarised as follows:

  • the Cologne European Council (3-4 June 1999) entrusted the task of drafting the Charter to a Convention,
  • the Convention held its constituent meeting in December 1999(see annex for its composition)and adopted the draft on 2 October 2000,
  • the Biarritz European Council (13-14 October 2000) unanimously approved the draft and forwarded it to the European Parliament and the Commission,
  • the European Parliament gave its agreement on 14 November 2000 and the Commission on 6 December 2000,
  • the Presidents of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission signed and proclaimed the Charter on behalf of their institutions on 7 December 2000 in Nice.

The European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights sets out in a single text, for the first time in the European Union's history, the whole range of civil, political, economic and social rights of European citizens and all persons resident in the EU.

These rights are divided into six sections:

  • Dignity
  • Freedoms
  • Equality
  • Solidarity
  • Citizens' rights
  • Justice

They are based, in particular, on the fundamental rights and freedoms recognised by the European Convention on Human Rights, the constitutional traditions of the EU Member States, the Council of Europe's Social Charter, the Community Charter of Fundamental Social Rights of Workers and other international conventions to which the European Union or its Member States are parties.

The issue of the Charter's legal status - i.e. whether to make it legally binding by incorporating it into the TEU - was raised by the Cologne European Council, which originally launched the Charter initiative. The Convention drew up the draft Charter with a view to its possible incorporation, and the European Parliament voted in favour of incorporation. The Nice European Council (see Annex I to the Presidency conclusions) decided to consider the question of the Charter's legal status during the general debate on the future of the European Union, which was initiated on 1 January 2001."