As a citizen of our country, we know our rights and freedoms, but as a citizen of the EU are we aware of our rights?
Europa United contributor, Divine Gonsalves, introduces you to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which is a single document containing all the rights and freedoms of a citizen protected by the EU and it is legally binding. It contains six headings, but just an early warning, it is elaborate. This is part two of a three part series that will run consecutively over the next few days.
ARTICLE 20- EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW
This goes without saying, everyone is equal before the law regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or anything.
ARTICLE 21- NON-DISCRIMINATION
Discrimination is not tolerated in the EU. Everyone must be treated fairly regardless of gender, colour, race, ethnicity, language, religion/belief, political or other opinions, sexual orientation, age, disability, genetic features, birth, property, or national minority.
ARTICLE 22- CULTURAL, RELIGIOUS AND LINGUISTIC DIVERSITY
We all love receiving respect and hence we have to give respect too. We must respect cultural, religious, and linguistic diversity.
ARTICLE 23- EQUALITY BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN
Equality is a crucial element in life. In the modern world, we all are aiming to ensure equality, not only between races, classes of society and so on but between men and women too. This includes in employment and payment.
ARTICLE 24- THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
Children too have rights, unfortunately, many are not aware of the rights they possess and this is the reason many children are victimised.
They have the right to protection and care, anything in favour of their well-being. They have the freedom to express their views but this is subject to their age and maturity.
The child’s best interests are a primary concern in any decision making.
The child has the right to maintain a relationship with the parents unless it is not in their best interest.
ARTICLE 25- THE RIGHTS OF THE ELDERLY
The elderly, like children, are vulnerable too. They have the right to be independent and even participate in social and cultural life.
ARTICLE 26- INTEGRATION OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITY
The disabled too have similar rights as the elderly and are ensured they are accepted into the community.
Your rights, your Europe
ARTICLE 27- WORKERS’ RIGHT TO INFORMATION AND CONSULTATION WITHIN THE UNDERTAKING
Workers must be informed and allowed consultation in their cases and based on the conditions provided for by the EU law and national law.
ARTICLE 28- RIGHT OF COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AND ACTION
This reserves the right to negotiate and taking measures to defend their interests.
ARTICLE 29- RIGHT OF ACCESS TO PLACEMENT SERVICES
This right allows everyone to access free placement services.
ARTICLE 30- PROTECTION IN THE EVENT OF UNJUSTIFIED DISMISSAL
Within national and EU laws, every person has the right to protection against unjustified dismissal.
ARTICLE 31- FAIR AND JUST WORKING CONDITIONS
Every person has the right to work in conditions which are safe and dignified. They also have the right to limitation of maximum working hours and are assured paid leave.
ARTICLE 32- PROHIBITION OF CHILD LABOUR AND PROTECTION OF YOUNG PEOPLE AT WORK
As the Article states, children are prohibited from working. The minimum age to be employed is not lower than the school-leaving age which is only allowed under certain conditions. If they are allowed to work, they have to protected against exploitation, anything health hazardous, and as such.
ARTICLE 33- FAMILY AND PROFESSIONAL LIFE
People have a right to their personal life, we are free to enjoy this, as well as have economic and social protection. People also have to right to be protected from dismissal due to maternity, they also have the right to paid maternity leave, and to parental leave regardless of birth or adoption.
ARTICLE 34- SOCIAL SECURITY AND SOCIAL ASSISTANCE
We are allowed the entitlement to social security benefits and social services providing protection for maternity, illness, industrial accidents, dependency or old age, and in the case of loss of employment, in accordance with the rules laid down by the EU and national laws. The freedom of movement comes in here as well, everyone residing and moving legally within the EU is entitled to social security benefits and social advantages in accordance with Union law and national laws and practices. The EU recognises and respects the right to social and housing assistance to ensure a decent existence for all those who lack sufficient resources, this is as well in accordance with the rules laid down by Union law and national laws and practices.
Freedom of movement
ARTICLE 35- HEALTH CARE
Everyone has the right to preventive health care and benefit from the treatments under the conditions established by national laws.
ARTICLE 36- ACCESS TO SERVICES OF GENERAL ECONOMIC INTEREST
Here, the Article mentions we all have access to services of general economic interest but in accordance with the Treaties as this is to promote the social and territorial cohesion of the Union.
ARTICLE 37- ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
Our environment is all we have for our survival so we have to protect and conserve it. We must also try our best to contribute towards its improvement.
ARTICLE 38- CONSUMER PROTECTION
As customers, we tend to fall prey to scams and what not, so the Union guarantees protection against these.
ARTICLE 39- RIGHT TO VOTE AND TO STAND AS A CANDIDATE AT ELECTIONS TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
If it is one thing that the EU is, it is that we are a democratic Union, we all have the right to vote and participate in the election, that is, being a candidate ourselves, to the European Parliament in the Member State we reside in, regardless of your nationality. (Freedom of movement perks!). Also, members of the European Parliament are elected by direct universal suffrage in a free and secret ballot. (Our privacy matters to the EU!)
ARTICLE 40- RIGHT TO VOTE AND TO STAND AS A CANDIDATE IN MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS
Again, the title says it all. Democracy for the way! And again, this is regardless of your nationality, that is, if you are an EU national.
ARTICLE 41- RIGHT TO GOOD ADMINISTRATION
Everyone is allowed the right to handle their matters fairly and with ample time given by the institutions, agencies, etc. of the Union.
This right includes also includes, every individual’s right to be heard before an action is taken against them which could affect them; the right to access their own files but with respect to confidentiality and of the professional/ business’ confidentiality too; and finally, the obligation of the administration to give reasons for their decisions.
We also have the right to have the Union repair any damage caused by its institutions or by its servants in the performance of their duties, in accordance with the general principles common to the laws of the Member States.
And, we have the right to write to the institutions of the Union in one of the languages of the Treaties and receive an answer in the same language.
ARTICLE 42-RIGHT OF ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS
We as citizens and anyone residing legally or have their registered offices in a Member State have the right to access documents of institutions, offices, etc. of the union.
ARTICLE 43- EUROPEAN OMBUDSMAN
Again, as citizens and anyone residing legally or have their registered offices in the Member State has the right to refer to the European Ombudsman cases of maladministration in the activities of the institutions, bodies, offices or agencies of the Union, with the exception of the Court of Justice of the European Union acting in its judicial role.
ARTICLE 44- RIGHT TO PETITION
Citizens and legal residents or having their registered office in a Member State have the right to petition the European Parliament.
ARTICLE 45- FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT AND RESIDENCE
This freedom is widely known by every citizen, and so, as citizens, we have every right to move and reside within the Member States we wish.
ARTICLE 46- DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR PROTECTION
Some countries do not have an embassy or consulate of a country and this might be problematic when an issue arises, but fortunately for us EU citizens, we are entitled to diplomatic and consular protection by any Member State, on the same conditions as the nationals of that Member State.
Part three will focus on Justice.