Field of application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union

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Publication Date March 2021
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The scope of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (the “Charter”) is defined in Article 51 thereof, pursuant to which:

  1. The provisions of [the] Charter are addressed to the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union with due regard for the principle of subsidiarity and to the Member States only when they are implementing EU law. They shall therefore respect the rights, observe the principles and promote the application thereof in accordance with their respective powers and respecting the limits of the powers of the Union as conferred on it in the Treaties.
  2. The Charter does not extend the field of application of EU law beyond the powers of the Union or establish any new power or task for the Union, or modify powers and tasks as defined in the Treaties.

With regard to European Union legal acts, the Court has carried out a review in the light of the fundamental rights in its case-law relating to the validity of certain acts of secondary legislation and it has stated that some acts, such as European EU law regulations and directives, must of necessity be interpreted in the light of the fundamental rights. In addition, the Union cannot conclude an international agreement that is incompatible with such rights.

As regards the Member States, the Court has ruled, in the context of a number of requests for a preliminary ruling, on the notion of the ‘implementation of European EU law’, providing, in particular, a list of factors which may be taken into consideration to determine whether a national rule is covered by that notion.

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