The Sting is Always in the Tail. The Personal Scope of Application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights

AuthorDeirdre Curtin,Ronald van Ooik
Published date01 March 2001
Date01 March 2001
Subject MatterArticle
Deirdre Curtin
Ronald van Ooik
102 8 MJ 1 (2001)
The Sting is Always in the Tail. The Personal Scope of
Application of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights
§ 1. Introduction
The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’)1 is an
impressive document. It lists numerous fundamental rights and freedoms in a clear and
‘robust’ way. It brings together for the first time, in a single document, classical human
rights, social and economic rights, as well as rights and freedoms already known from
the EC/EU Treaties (free movement, non-discrimination, EU citizenship rights, etc.).
These rights are, moreover, classified and organized in a new and quite original fashion
– six Chapters, dealing with Dignity, Freedoms, Equality, Solidarity, Citizens’ Rights,
Justice. Limitations and exceptions to the rights and freedoms set out in these first six
parts of the Charter are almost non-existent. The claim that the Charter indeed makes
fundamental rights more ‘visible’ to the citizens of the Union (after enlargement to the
East some 480 million people) is thus not without foundation.
This is however only part of the story as the main problems regarding the EU Charter
are to be found right at the tail-end of the document, that is, in Chapter VII, ‘General
Provisions’. One thorny issue relates to the limitations on the exercise of the rights and
freedoms recognized by the Charter. How must the general statements on these
limitations, in Article 52, be linked to the various substantive rights and freedoms of the
Charter? In particular, the statement that Charter rights, which correspond to rights
guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), have the same
‘meaning and scope’ is difficult to understand. One has to read the drafters’ official
commentary on the Charter – the Explanatory Note of ‘the Convention’ – to learn that it
was their intention to incorporate all exceptions and limitations mentioned in the
* Europa Institute, Utrecht University.
1. [2000] O.J. C364/1.

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