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.

  • The situation in some Member States has led us to create a strategy for defending the Rule of Law, human rights and the concept of liberal democracy, said José Antonio Moreno Díaz, president of a new group on fundamental rights and the Rule of Law. Fact-finding missions to Poland, Hungary or Romania will be a starting point for the group, established by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) earlier this year and which held its first meeting on 11 June in Brussels.

  • The conference is open to the public. It will be in hybrid form. In order to take part either in person or remotely, please register here until 21 March 2024, 12.00 CET.

  • Corruption public procurement

    The purpose of the hearing was to contribute to the EESC own-initiative opinion with a deeper analysis of the issue of corruption in public procurement and its impacts, bringing attention to how challenges to the rule of law affect the internal market.

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    Conference of the Workers' Group

    The Workers' Group is organising a conference in Stockholm on 11/12 May, on the occasion of the Council of the European Union Swedish Presidency.

  • Extraordinary meeting of the Civil Society Organisations' Group

    Registrations for the conference are now closed. We invite you to follow the event via live stream at: https://europa.eu/!bKTWBr

  • Civil Society Organisations active on fundamental rights, the rule of law, and democracy are confronted with increasing difficulties, from regulatory challenges to financial constraints and concerted attacks on their work and credibility. At the hearing, the EESC intends to engage with CSOs and other relevant stakeholders to identify the main issues they face and propose ways of improving support. The hearing will feed into the opinion, which will have a particular focus on EU funding.

  • Hearing of the Fundamental Rights and Rule of Law Group

    Recent developments in the US and some European countries have shown that rights acquired by women are not irreversible. This particularly applies to sexual and reproductive health and rights. These questions are a matter of individual rights but also of public health, as sexual and reproductive health services are an essential part of comprehensive healthcare provision. Societal debates on the questions tend more and more towards polarisation, at the expense of women who can become deprived of their free and informed choice. The hearing will gather the view of civil society on these developments.

  • The EESC FRRL Group's annual conference will provide a platform for debate of the European Commission's third Report on the Rule of Law (July 2022), which for the first time entails country specific recommendations.

    It will gather EESC Members, civil society representatives (including social partners), EU institutions and other stakeholders to discuss the main developments in the EU in the area of fundamental rights and the rule of law over the past year.

    On the occasion of the conference, the FRRL Group will issue its second synthesis report covering the visits carried out in 2020-2021.

  • Over the last years, the EU founding values have been increasingly challenged, making the consensus on which they are based seem more fragile than ever. While the EU has addressed these threats by becoming more active in defence of democracy, fundamental rights, the rule of law, discourses have also risen portraying such action as political battles based on unclear or relative criteria.

    Participants in the hearing will discuss how to address this phenomenon, and more generally how to better communicate fundamental rights and the rule of law to the whole population.

  • The EU has adopted legislation covering various grounds of discrimination in a variety of policy areas, in particular employment, to meet its aim of combating all forms of discrimination. However, gaps still exist as Member States have not yet agreed on a horizontal Directive on non-discrimination outside of the labour market proposed in 2008.

    This hearing with the participation of EU institutions and civil society organisations in the framework of the preparation of an EESC own-initiative aims at closing the gaps and identifying ways to improve equality in Europe, including with an Equal Treatment Directive.