Press release

European Parliament approves the Charter of Fundamental Rights and urges UK and Poland to apply it

Fundamental rights - 29-11-2007 - 12:27
Plenary sessions
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The European Court of Justice hear a case. ©BELGA/AFP/Jean-Christophe Verhaegen

The charter will permit citizens to bring cases to the European Court of Justice

The European Parliament gave its assent to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union with 534 votes in favour 85 against and 21 abstentions. MEPs also adopted an amendment with 477 votes in favour, 106 against and 35 abstentions urging Poland and the United Kingdom to make every effort to arrive, after all, at a consensus on the unrestricted applicability of the Charter.

The UK has a special protocol on its application which makes clear that the Charter will not extend the powers of any court –UK or European – to strike down UK legislation. On Wednesday 12 December in Strasbourg, the European Parliament will hold a ceremony on the proclamation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
The Charter sets out in one place the rights which citizens across the EU already have, for example through the European Convention on Human Rights, or through existing EU law. Its aim is to ensure that EU institutions respect those fundamental rights. The Charter reaffirms existing rights and will apply to all Member States when they implement Union law.
UK and Poland position
There is a UK-specific protocol (see link below) which makes clear that the Charter will:
Not extend the powers of any court –UK or European – to strike down UK legislation; and
Not create any new justifiable rights in the UK. For example, it will not create any greater social or economic rights than are already provided in UK law. (The same applies to Poland)
REF.: 20071128IPR14000