European Union system of fundamental rights

Part I:
General orientation
European Union system of fundamental
Two sources of fundamental rights
There are two main su rces of fundamental r ights in EU law: (i) the (unwritte n)
general princ iples of law; and (ii) the Charter.
Both the general p rinciples and the
Charter provision s constitute EU primar y law, and they overlap. Both app ly only
within the scope of EU law a nd thus have the same f‌ield of applicatio n.
EU fundamenta l rights can also be fo und in treaty provisions
and EU secondar y
This handbook fo cuses only on fund amental right s as general prin ciples of
EU law and under the Ch arter.
2 European Comm unities (2012), Consoli dated version of the Treaty on Eu ropean Union (TEU),
OJC326, 26Octo ber2012, Art.6.
3 The expla nations to Art.51(1) of the Cha rter (‘Field of appli cation’) clarif y that this provision is
a codif‌ication o f the CJEU case law concern ing the scope of applic ation of general prin ciples.
Currently, the CJE U uses Art.51(1) of the Char ter by analogy for gener al principles of law.
See, for exam ple, CJEU, C-406/15, Petya Milkova v. Izpalni telen direktor na Agent siata za
privatizatsia i sledprivatizatsi onen control, 9March2017, paras.50 and 54 .
4 See, for example, Euro pean Communities (20 12), Consolidated versio n of the Treaty on the
Function ing of the European Unio n (TFEU), OJC326, 26Octo ber2012, Art.157.
5 See, for examp le, Council Directive 20 00/78/EC of 27November2000 esta blishing a general
framework for eq ual treatment in employm ent and occupation, OJL303 , 2 December2000,

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