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 EESC welcomes the Commission's proposal to amend the Anti-Trafficking Directive, as it agrees with the need for further progress and improvement in the fight against trafficking in human beings and the protection of victims. The gender dimension in the content and implementation of the directive should be strengthened, given that the vast majority of victims are women and girls. The EESC believes that the directive should pay greater attention to victims of trafficking, and wishes to highlight the Member States' obligation to care for and protect victims and ensure their social inclusion as far as possible.
Corruption and the lack of rule of law undermine the mutual trust that is underpinning the internal market. This opinion should contribute to bringing attention to how challenges to the rule of law affect the internal market and in particular public procurement.
This Opinion welcomes the European Media Freedom Act and all the related EU initiatives aiming to address the worrying developments in the area of media freedom over the last years. The Opinion entails a number of recommendations concerning editorial and journalists' independence; the need for financial resources to ensure independence of public media; transparency in the allocation of State advertising; transparency of media ownership. The Opinion also calls for measures to ensure the independence of national regulatory bodies, especially in the context of the future European board for media services. It also considers that EU anti-concentration law should be used where national regulators fail to address media market concentration.