Fundamental Rights and the Rule of Law

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The EU is not only a common market; it is a union of common values that shape the European identity. These values are set out in the Treaty on the European Union and also include the rights, freedoms and principles laid out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights: the "indivisible, universal values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity; [the Union] 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 Charter brings together into a single text all the personal, civic, political, economic and social rights enjoyed by people within the EU and apply to the EU institutions and Member States when they implement EU law.

The EESC is very active in the promotion of fundamental rights, the rule of law and democracy, and especially in the fight against discrimination based on race, ethnic origin, disability or gender. In 2018, it established the Group on Fundamental Rights and the Rule of Law to further expand analysis of the situation across Europe and promote a constructive dialogue amongst all stakeholders.

  • Lifelong learning will ensure jobs and decent living standards. However, in the absence of a standardised system across the EU, not all workers have opportunities to reskill and upskill during their careers, an EESC study finds

  • Statement to mark European Diversity Month by Séamus Boland, President of the Civil Society Organisations' Group of the EESC

  • EESC plenary debate with Věra Jourová, European Commission Vice-President for Values and Transparency, linked to the opinion SOC/691

  • Connecting EU seminar 2021 on 'What kind of Europe do you dream of?', panel on 'European democracy: how can we buttress press freedom in Europe against looming multiple threats?' - Lisbon, 19 November 2021

  • At a conference, organised by the Diversity Europe Group of the EESC in partnership with Civil Society Europe and with the support of the EESC's Liaison Group and Associational Life Category, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and their umbrella organisations reiterated their call for an EU Civil Society Strategy and a European Statute for Associations. Appropriate follow-up to the Conference on the Future of Europe and a regular and structured dialogue with CSOs were considered key aspects to rebuilding citizens' trust in politics and strengthening European democracy.

  • Conference on 'Civil society organisations: Key actors for the future of Europe', organised by the Diversity Europe Group in partnership with Civil Society Europe and with the support of the EESC's Liaison Group and Associational Life Category

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    The conference on Fundamental Rights and Rule of Law held by the European Economic and Social Committee brought into light serious violations and negative trends in the four areas covered by the European Rule of Law Mechanism (justice, corruption, media, checks and balances). The EESC stressed that civil society is a dynamic actor in defending this fundamental principle of the EU.

  • Conference on "Civil society perspectives on the European Rule of Law Mechanism" organised by the EESC's Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship (SOC), Brussels, 4 November 2021

  • Disregard for social and economic rights, restrictions placed on fundamental rights with no end date, broad emergency measures adopted in haste and allowing little scrutiny by parliaments, the judiciary, and civil society - all these contribute to the erosion of public trust in public policies, which can have serious repercussions not only for people's health but also for the health of our democracies, an EESC hearing warned

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    In a plenary debate with Reporters without Borders and the European Federation of Journalists, the EESC reaffirmed its commitment to supporting the pluralism and freedom of the media and guaranteeing absolute safety for journalists, amid alarming developments across the EU which have in the past few years claimed several reporters' lives.