Citizen Rights - A State of Democracy: Towards Citizen Rights Protection in the EU

TitleCitizen Rights - A State of Democracy: Towards Citizen Rights Protection in the EU
Publication TypeRiport / Report
Év / Year2016
AuthorsDupouey, Valentin, Najmowicz Alexandrina, and Jackson OLDFIELD
Kulcsszavak / KeywordsCitizen Rights

The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.

Article 2, Treaty on European Union (TEU)

Article 2 has a prominent place in the EU treaties, yet a vast gap exists between the rights guaranteed by the EU and the exercise of these rights. Unclear laws, disempowerment or fear of reprisal can prevent people from knowing and enjoying their rights.

The EU’s main response to ensure that these values are upheld are through Article 11 TEU and its mechanisms to encourage citizen participation in its policy development processes, and Article 7 TEU, allowing the Union to react to systematic threats to fundamental values by Member States.

It is clear however that these processes are not enough. Participation tools are often weak or non-existent, denying citizens of the EU the opportunity to engage in the EU’s work, while Article 7 and its pre-processes are unlikely to be used. Proposals to close this gap and build EU oversight of Member States that violate fundamental rights and values also heavily lean towards technocratic or political decisions rather than citizen participation.

Concluding this report, we assess active citizenship and propose a radical overhaul of the way European institutions include citizens in EU level decision making and protection of human rights. This includes:

  • Putting citizens’ rights and the common good at the centre of European policies
  • European institutions, and particularly the Commission, as guardian of the treaties, becoming a driving force in creating a more enabling environment for participation
  • Building a clear and structured framework for regular dialogue with civil society
  • Putting the respect and the promotion of the fundamental values of the Union and the core European requirements of democracy and the rule of law at the forefront of the Institution’s actions
  • Establishing participatory mechanisms and tools to secure rights protection throughout Member States
  • Protecting the rights – including the right to participation – of third country nationals