Fundamental rights are protections or guarantees for individuals that are built into the EU’s legal system. They set out the freedoms and rights that anyone can expect under EU law, such as the right to freedom of expression and freedom to pursue a trade or profession.
The Balance of Competences Review was launched by the Foreign Secretary William Hague in July 2012, as part of the Coalition Government commitment to analyse and examine the UK’s relationship with the European Union
The Ministry of Justice is leading on this strand of the review, and is seeking evidence from lawyers, non-governmental organisations and the public, on the impact of this competence on their own area of expertise.
Justice Minister Lord McNally said:
The debate about European Union action on fundamental rights must be based on an objective and evidence-based analysis of the facts.
The call for evidence focuses on the EU’s framework of fundamental rights, and the work the EU does to support fundamental rights.
The Balance of Competence Review will allow us to gather what is needed to inform the debate. We are asking for information and views to develop a comprehensive and detailed analysis of EU action on fundamental rights, and an understanding of the nature of our EU membership.
Justice Minister Damian Green said:
This review is an important chance to make sure that evidence is gathered as part of what is the most extensive evidence based analysis of our relationship with the EU that has been undertaken.
The impact of EU fundamental rights on the UK is a central part of this endeavour and I hope those with an interest will be able to help with evidence.
The Call for Evidence will be structured around a series of questions including looking at the impact of the EU’s fundamental rights framework, its advantages and disadvantage for the UK and what future challenges and opportunities there are in respect of fundamental rights.
The public call for evidence will run for 12 weeks, anyone wishing to contribute is asked to send their views before 13 January 2014. Following the close of the Call for Evidence, a report on the Balance of Competences on Fundamental Rights and what this means for the national interest will be published in summer 2014.
The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the European Court of Human Rights are mechanisms of the Council of Europe, not the European Union. Evidence on the Council of Europe and the ECHR is only within the scope of the review as far as it demonstrates the effect on the UK of the EU’s competence in relation to fundamental rights.
The UK’s direct relationship with the Council of Europe and the ECHR is outside the scope of this review.
Our Balance of Competences Fundamental Rights Review contains further information on how to submit evidence.