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EU Charter of Fundamental Rights

An instrument which enshrines certain political, social, and economic rights for European Union (EU) citizens and residents into EU law.


The EU Charter on Fundamental Rights was given legal effect by Article 6(1) of the Treaty of the European Union (the Lisbon Treaty).  It contains a range of rights, some of which are similar those in the European Convention on Human Rights, and others which go beyond the scope of the ECHR including the right to health care (Article 35), access to services (Article 36) and social security (Article 34).

According to the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice,  human rights aspect of EU law is only binding on EU member states when their actions engage EU law (Case 5/88 Wachauf and Case C-260/89 ERT ).

The UK has filed an “opt-out” protocol in respect of the Charter, Article 1 of which states that it “does not extend the ability of the Court of Justice of the European Union, or any court or tribunal…of the United Kingdom, to find that the laws, regulations or administrative provisions, practices or action of…the United Kingdom are inconsistent with the fundamental rights, freedoms and principles that it reaffirms.” (Protocol No30 of 2007)