First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “This year we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights. This is a good opportunity to recall that fundamental rights, democracy and the rule of law are the three pillars that are the bedrock of the European Union. Our Charter of fundamental rights is not optional. The EU institutions are bound by it and so are the Member States when implementing EU law. The Court of Justice of the EU and the national courts play an important role to uphold fundamental rights and the rule of law across the Union.”
Věra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality added: “We saw some encouraging developments in 2017, for instance when it comes to tackling racism and other illegal hate speech online through our code of conduct with social media platforms. Also the European Pillar of Social Rights was an important step towards more equality, showing that Europe is much more than a market. It is a Union of values that protects. But we have faced also important challenges in 2017, with the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and the work of civil society organisations under threat in parts of our Union. We will continue to work relentlessly to uphold fundamental rights, the rule of law and our democratic values in our Union.”
Some of the key initiatives promoting fundamental rights in 2017 include:
The report focuses on the 2017 Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights, which was devoted to “women’s rights under attack“. The Commission committed to a number of actions ranging from putting women’s rights and gender equality on the agenda at the highest political level to funding grassroots projects.
The 2018 Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights will be devoted to “Democracy in the EU” and will take place on 26-27 November. Participants will work together to identify ways to foster free and open democratic participation in an era of growing low turnout in elections, populism, digitalisation and threats to civil society. It will be an opportunity to reaffirm one of the EU’s key values in the run-up to the European elections.
On 16-17 June 2015, Equinet hosted the conference ’Charting the Charter: Equality bodies and fundamental rights in the EU’ to facilitate exchange between equality bodies and national and European stakeholders on the role and importance of the Charter in safeguarding fundamental rights, ensuring equality and combating discrimination and it will have a particular focus on the practical use and benefits of the Charter for equality bodies.
This seminar was designed to enable equality bodies’ staff to: