Charter of Fundamental Rights of EU
[Adopted by EU Parliament, november 2000, the 14th]
*Please read article 3 (and 13)*
The peoples of Europe, in creating an ever closer union among them, are
resolved to share a peaceful future based on common values. Conscious of its
spiritual and moral heritage, the Union is founded on the indivisible,
universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity; it is
based on the principles of democracy and the rule of law. It places the
individual at the heart of its activities, by establishing the citizenship
of the Union and by creating an area of freedom, security and justice.
The Union contributes to the preservation and to the development of these
common values while respecting the diversity of the cultures and traditions
of the peoples of Europe as well as the national identities of the Member
States and the organisation of their public authorities at national,
regional and local levels; it seeks to promote balanced and sustainable
development and ensures free movement of persons, goods, services and
capital, and the freedom of establishment. To this end, it is necessary to
strengthen the protection of fundamental rights in the light of changes in
society, social progress and scientific and technological developments by
making those rights more visible in a Charter.
This Charter reaffirms, with due regard for the powers and tasks of the
Community and the Union and the principle of subsidiarity, the rights as
they result, in particular, from the constitutional traditions and
international obligations common to the Member States, the Treaty on
European Union, the Community Treaties, the European Convention for the
Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Social Charters
adopted by the Community and by the Council of Europe and the case law of
the Court of Justice of the European Communities and of the European Court
of Human Rights.
Enjoyment of these rights entails responsibilities and duties with regard to
other persons, to the human community and to future generations.
The Union therefore recognises the rights, freedoms and principles set out
Human dignity is inviolable. It must be respected and protected.
Right to life
1. Everyone has the right to life.
2. No one shall be condemned to the death penalty, or executed.
Right to the integrity of the person
1. Everyone has the right to respect for his or her physical and mental
2. In the fields of medicine and biology, the following must be respected
- the free and informed consent of the person concerned, according to the
procedures laid down by law,
- the prohibition of eugenic practices, in particular those aiming at the
selection of persons,
- the prohibition on making the human body and its parts as such a source
of financial gain,
- the prohibition of the reproductive cloning of human beings.
Prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or
Prohibition of slavery and forced labour
1. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.
2. No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.
3. Trafficking in human beings is prohibited.
Right to liberty and security
Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person.
Respect for private and family life
Everyone has the right to respect for his or her private and family life,
home and communications.
Protection of personal data
1. Everyone has the right to the protection of personal data concerning him
2. Such data must be processed fairly for specified purposes and on the
basis of the consent of the person concerned or some other legitimate basis
laid down by law. Everyone has the right of access to data which has been co
llected concerning him or her, and the right to have it rectified.
3. Compliance with these rules shall be subject to control by an
Right to marry and right to found a family
The right to marry and the right to found a family shall be guaranteed in
accordance with the national laws governing the exercise of these rights.
Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
This right includes freedom to change religion or belief and freedom, either
alone or in community with others and in public or in private, to manifest
religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
2. The right to conscientious objection is recognised, in accordance with
the national laws governing the exercise of this right.
Freedom of expression and information
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall
include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and
ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.
2. The freedom and pluralism of the media shall be respected.
Freedom of assembly and of association
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of
association at all levels, in particular in political, trade union and civic
matters, which implies the right of everyone to form and to join trade
unions for the protection of his or her interests.
2. Political parties at Union level contribute to expressing the political
will of the citizens of the Union.
Freedom of the arts and sciences
The arts and scientific research shall be free of constraint. Academic
freedom shall be respected.
Right to education
1. Everyone has the right to education and to have access to vocational and
2. This right includes the possibility to receive free compulsory
3. The freedom to found educational establishments with due respect for
democratic principles and the right of parents to ensure the education and
teaching of their children in conformity with their religious, philosophical
and pedagogical convictions shall be respected, in accordance with the
national laws governing the exercise of such freedom and right.
Freedom to choose an occupation and right to engage in work
1. Everyone has the right to engage in work and to pursue a freely chosen
or accepted occupation.
2. Every citizen of the Union has the freedom to seek employment, to work,
to exercise the right of establishment and to provide services in any Member
3. Nationals of third countries who are authorised to work in the
territories of the Member States are entitled to working conditions
equivalent to those of citizens of the Union.
Freedom to conduct a business
The freedom to conduct a business in accordance with Community law and
national laws and practices is recognised.
Right to property
1. Everyone has the right to own, use, dispose of and bequeath his or her
lawfully acquired possessions. No one may be deprived of his or her
possessions, except in the public interest and in the cases and under the
conditions provided for by law, subject to fair compensation being paid in
good time for their loss. The use of property may be regulated by law
insofar as is necessary for the general interest.
2. Intellectual property shall be protected.
Right to asylum
The right to asylum shall be guaranteed with due respect for the rules of
the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 and the Protocol of 31 January 1967
relating to the status of refugees and in accordance with the Treaty
establishing the European Community.
Protection in the event of removal, expulsion or extradition
1. Collective expulsions are prohibited.
2. No one may be removed, expelled or extradited to a State where there is
a serious risk that he or she would be subjected to the death penalty,
torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Equality before the law
Everyone is equal before the law.
1. Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic
or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political
or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth,
disability, age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited.
2. Within the scope of application of the Treaty establishing the European
Community and of the Treaty on European Union, and without prejudice to the
special provisions of those Treaties, any discrimination on grounds of
nationality shall be prohibited.
Cultural, religious and linguistic diversity
The Union shall respect cultural, religious and linguistic diversity.
Equality between men and women
Equality between men and women must be ensured in all areas, including
employment, work and pay.
The principle of equality shall not prevent the maintenance or adoption of
measures providing for specific advantages in favour of the
The rights of the child
1. Children shall have the right to such protection and care as is
necessary for their well-being. They may express their views freely. Such
views shall be taken into consideration on matters which concern them in
accordance with their age and maturity.
2. In all actions relating to children, whether taken by public authorities
or private institutions, the child's best interests must be a primary
3. Every child shall have the right to maintain on a regular basis a
personal relationship and direct contact with both his or her parents,
unless that is contrary to his or her interests.
The rights of the elderly
The Union recognises and respects the rights of the elderly to lead a life
of dignity and independence and to participate in social and cultural life.
Integration of persons with disabilities
The Union recognises and respects the right of persons with disabilities to
benefit from measures designed to ensure their independence, social and
occupational integration and participation in the life of the community.
Workers' right to information and consultation within the undertaking
Workers or their representatives must, at the appropriate levels, be
guaranteed information and consultation in good time in the cases and under
the conditions provided for by Community law and national laws and
Right of collective bargaining and action
Workers and employers, or their respective organisations, have, in
accordance with Community law and national laws and practices, the right to
negotiate and conclude collective agreements at the appropriate levels and,
in cases of conflicts of interest, to take collective action to defend their
interests, including strike action.
Right of access to placement services
Everyone has the right of access to a free placement service.
Protection in the event of unjustified dismissal
Every worker has the right to protection against unjustified dismissal, in
accordance with Community law and national laws and practices.
Fair and just working conditions
1. Every worker has the right to working conditions which respect his or
her health, safety and dignity.
2. Every worker has the right to limitation of maximum working hours, to
daily and weekly rest periods and to an annual period of paid leave.
Prohibition of child labour and protection of young people at work
The employment of children is prohibited. The minimum age of admission to
employment may not be lower than the minimum school-leaving age, without
prejudice to such rules as may be more favourable to young people and except
for limited derogations.
Young people admitted to work must have working conditions appropriate to
their age and be protected against economic exploitation and any work likely
to harm their safety, health or physical, mental, moral or social
development or to interfere with their education.
Family and professional life
1. The family shall enjoy legal, economic and social protection.
2. To reconcile family and professional life, everyone shall have the right
to protection from dismissal for a reason connected with maternity and the
right to paid maternity leave and to parental leave following the birth or
adoption of a child.
Social security and social assistance
1. The Union recognises and respects the entitlement to social security
benefits and social services providing protection in cases such as
maternity, illness, industrial accidents, dependency or old age, and in the
case of loss of employment, in accordance with the procedures laid down by
Community law and national laws and practices.
2. Everyone residing and moving legally within the European Union is
entitled to social security benefits and social advantages in accordance
with Community law and national laws and practices.
3. In order to combat social exclusion and poverty, the Union recognises
and respects the right to social and housing assistance so as to ensure a
decent existence for all those who lack sufficient resources, in accordance
with the procedures laid down by Community law and national laws and
Everyone has the right of access to preventive health care and the right to
benefit from medical treatment under the conditions established by national
laws and practices. A high level of human health protection shall be ensured
in the definition and implementation of all Union policies and activities.
Access to services of general economic interest
The Union recognises and respects access to services of general economic
interest as provided for in national laws and practices, in accordance with
the Treaty establishing the European Community, in order to promote the
social and territorial cohesion of the Union.
A high level of environmental protection and the improvement of the quality
of the environment must be integrated into the polices of the Union and
ensured in accordance with the principle of sustainable development.
Union policies shall ensure a high level of consumer protection.
Right to vote and to stand as a candidate at elections to the European
1. Every citizen of the Union has the right to vote and to stand as a
candidate at elections to the European Parliament in the Member State in
which he or she resides, under the same conditions as nationals of that
2. Members of the European Parliament shall be elected by direct universal
suffrage in a free and secret ballot.
Right to vote and to stand as a candidate at municipal elections
Every citizen of the Union has the right to vote and to stand as a candidate
at municipal elections in the Member State in which he or she resides under
the same conditions as nationals of that State.
Right to good administration
1. Every person has the right to have his or her affairs handled
impartially, fairly and within a reasonable time by the institutions and
bodies of the Union.
2. This right includes:
- the right of every person to be heard, before any individual measure
which would affect him or her adversely is taken;
- the right of every person to have access to his or her file, while
respecting the legitimate interests of confidentiality and of professional
and business secrecy;
- the obligation of the administration to give reasons for its decisions.
3. Every person has the right to have the Community make good any damage
caused by its institutions or by its servants in the performance of their
duties, in accordance with the general principles common to the laws of the
4. Every person may write to the institutions of the Union in one of the
languages of the Treaties and must have an answer in the same language.
Right of access to documents
Any citizen of the Union, and any natural or legal person residing or having
its registered office in a Member State, has a right of access to European
Parliament, Council and Commission documents.
Any citizen of the Union and any natural or legal person residing or having
its registered office in a Member State has the right to refer to the
Ombudsman of the Union cases of maladministration in the activities of the
Community institutions or bodies, with the exception of the Court of Justice
and the Court of First Instance acting in their judicial role.
Right to petition
Any citizen of the Union and any natural or legal person residing or having
its registered office in a Member State has the right to petition the
Freedom of movement and of residence
1. Every citizen of the Union has the right to move and reside freely
within the territory of the Member States.
2. Freedom of movement and residence may be granted, in accordance with the
Treaty establishing the European Community, to nationals of third countries
legally resident in the territory of a Member State.
Diplomatic and consular protection
Every citizen of the Union shall, in the territory of a third country in
which the Member State of which he or she is a national is not represented,
be entitled to protection by the diplomatic or consular authorities of any
Member State, on the same conditions as the nationals of that Member State.
Right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial
Everyone whose rights and freedoms guaranteed by the law of the Union are
violated has the right to an effective remedy before a tribunal in
compliance with the conditions laid down in this Article.
Everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time
by an independent and impartial tribunal previously established by law.
Everyone shall have the possibility of being advised, defended and
Legal aid shall be made available to those who lack sufficient resources
insofar as such aid is necessary to ensure effective access to justice.
Presumption of innocence and right of defence
1. Everyone who has been charged shall be presumed innocent until proved
guilty according to law.
2. Respect for the rights of the defence of anyone who has been charged
shall be guaranteed.
Principles of legality and proportionality of criminal offences and
1. No one shall be held guilty of any criminal offence on account of any
act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence under national
law or international law at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a
heavier penalty be imposed than that which was applicable at the time the
criminal offence was committed. If, subsequent to the commission of a
criminal offence, the law provides for a lighter penalty, that penalty shall
2. This Article shall not prejudice the trial and punishment of any person
for any act or omission which, at the time when it was committed, was
criminal according to the general principles recognised by the community of
3. The severity of penalties must not be disproportionate to the criminal
Right not to be tried or punished twice in criminal proceedings for the same
No one shall be liable to be tried or punished again in criminal proceedings
for an offence for which he or she has already been finally acquitted or
convicted within the Union in accordance with the law.
1. The provisions of this Charter are addressed to the institutions and
bodies of the Union with due regard for the principle of subsidiarity and to
the Member States only when they are implementing Union law. They shall
therefore respect the rights, observe the principles and promote the
application thereof in accordance with their respective powers.
2. This Charter does not establish any new power or task for the Community
or the Union, or modify powers and tasks defined by the Treaties.
Scope of guaranteed rights
1. Any limitation on the exercise of the rights and freedoms recognised by
this Charter must be provided for by law and respect the essence of those
rights and freedoms. Subject to the principle of proportionality,
limitations may be made only if they are necessary and genuinely meet
objectives of general interest recognized by the Union or the need to
protect the rights and freedoms of others.
2. Rights recognised by this Charter which are based on the Community
Treaties or the Treaty on European Union shall be exercised under the
conditions and within the limits defined by those Treaties.
3. Insofar as this Charter contains rights which correspond to rights
guaranteed by the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms, the meaning and scope of those rights shall be the
same as those laid down by the said Convention. This provision shall not
prevent Union law providing more extensive protection.
Level of protection
Nothing in this Charter shall be interpreted as restricting or adversely
affecting human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognised, in their
respective fields of application, by Union law and international law and by
international agreements to which the Union, the Community or all the Member
States are party, including the European Convention for the Protection of
Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and by the Member States'
Prohibition of abuse of rights
Nothing in this Charter shall be interpreted as implying any right to engage
in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the
rights and freedoms recognised in this Charter or at their limitation to a
greater extent than is provided for herein.
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