Research Handbooks in European Law series
Edited by Adam Lazowski and Steven Blockmans
Chapter 8: Fundamental rights protection in the legal order of the European Union
This chapter examines the protection of fundamental rights within the legal order of the European Union. It will therefore not focus on the role of human rights in the external relationship of the European Union with third countries, including EU candidate (or potential candidate) countries. The chapter will look at the EU’s gradual progression towards a legal obligation to observe human rights in its legal order, leading up to the adoption of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Equally, the development of additional internal mechanisms to safeguard human rights standards in the EU’s legal order will be discussed, such as the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. Finally, the need for external scrutiny will be examined and the ongoing negotiations concerning the future accession of the EU to the European Convention on Human Rights, taking into account Opinion 2/13 of the Court of Justice, will be covered. The debate about the desirability of the European Union (or its precursors) being legally bound to respect human rights has been ongoing for decades. It is unsurprising that in 1957, when the European Economic Community was founded, human rights were not at the forefront of the concerns of the founding fathers of the Communities. Previous initiatives to establish a more general European Political Community had died a quiet death in 1954, when France’s National Assembly decided not to pursue this avenue.
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