In Order To Form A More Perfect Union… would that it were for the U.S., but Europe is the example:
In December 2009, with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights was given binding legal effect equal to the Treaties, themselves. To this end, the Charter was amended and proclaimed December 2007.
This Charter is the end-result of a special procedure without precedent in the history of the European Union and enshrines the highest ideals of Citizens’ Rights so as to obtain the highest Quality of Life for All.
The European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights sets out in a single text, for the first time in the European Union’s history, the whole range of civil, political, economic and social rights of European citizens and all persons resident in the EU.
Enforcement of these rights is, first line, through the national courts of european member states and ultimately, if unresolved, at the EU levels of the European Court of Justice or the European Court of Human Rights.
While not written with the elegant prose nor hand scribed on the beautiful handmade parchment of the United States Constitution, the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights codifies european citizens’ Rights, Dignities and Quality Of Life uncontemplated, unaddressed, and often utterly rejected by the United States’ inferior and flawed document.
So, first, let’s just look at a summary of what the Charter covers. Then, we’ll look at the actual Charter and make some comparisons to the U.S. Constitution so as to establish a baseline for some of our document’s deficiencies.
Check it out!
The Charter of Fundamental Rights contains a preamble and 54 Articles, grouped in seven chapters:
- chapter I: dignity (human dignity, the right to life, the right to the integrity of the person, prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, prohibition of slavery and forced labour);
- chapter II: freedoms (the right to liberty and security, respect for private and family life, protection of personal data, the right to marry and found a family, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of expression and information, freedom of assembly and association, freedom of the arts and sciences, the right to education, freedom to choose an occupation and the right to engage in work, freedom to conduct a business, the right to property, the right to asylum, protection in the event of removal, expulsion or extradition);
- chapter III: equality (equality before the law, non-discrimination, cultural, religious and linguistic diversity, equality between men and women, the rights of the child, the rights of the elderly, integration of persons with disabilities);
- chapter IV: solidarity (workers’ right to information and consultation within the undertaking, the right of collective bargaining and action, the right of access to placement services, protection in the event of unjustified dismissal, fair and just working conditions, prohibition of child labour and protection of young people at work, family and professional life, social security and social assistance, health care, access to services of general economic interest, environmental protection, consumer protection);
- chapter V: citizens’ rights (the right to vote and stand as a candidate at elections to the European Parliament and at municipal elections, the right to good administration, the right of access to documents, European Ombudsman, the right to petition, freedom of movement and residence, diplomatic and consular protection);
- chapter VI: justice (the right to an effective remedy and a fair trial, presumption of innocence and the right of defence, principles of legality and proportionality of criminal offences and penalties, the right not to be tried or punished twice in criminal proceedings for the same criminal offence);
- chapter VII: general provisions.
These documented and guaranteed rights are based, in particular, on the fundamental rights and freedoms recognized by the European Convention on Human Rights, the constitutional traditions of the EU Member States, the Council of Europe’s Social Charter, the Community Charter of Fundamental Social Rights of Workers and other international conventions to which the European Union or its Member States are parties.
In comparison, the Constitution of the United States is a deeply flawed document that allows rights to come and go based upon lack of specificity and fluctuating general interpretation of vague statements of rights.
Perhaps someday, the United States will address our Constitution’s oversights… But then we must worry about our conservatives, republicans, tea partiers, and libertarians taking away the few rights we still do maintain… UGH!